inspiration2022/05/19

Jemima’s Kitchen Garden At The Grove: Inspired By Permaculture Allowing Nature To Thrive

by Wolf & Badger

The Grove is the ultimate five star retreat set in 300 acres of stunning Hertfordshire countryside. Home to Jemima’s Kitchen Garden, providing homegrown produce plus bee hives for honey on tap, we caught up with their Gardens Supervisor and designer of the garden Abby Evans, to hear more about it's permaculture ethos and the ways it protects wildlife. Read on to discover a Chelsea Flower Show inspired floral pavlova recipe, straight from The Grove's kitchen. 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what your day-to-day work entails?

I’ve always had a love for nature and being outdoors. I’ve been gardening for ten years, four of which I’ve been working at The Grove, where I started out as a gardener. I am now the Walled Garden Supervisor. Over the years I’ve undertaken numerous RHS qualifications and I am currently studying permaculture design.

In terms of what I get up to on a day-to-day basis it can vary depending on the season or weather. Back in the winter of 2019, I designed Jemima’s Kitchen Garden and Tash and I built and worked on the garden all through lockdown. Depending on the time of year I could be sowing seeds, harvesting, working on crop rotation plans and much more.

What is a permaculture ethos?

Jemima’s Kitchen Garden is inspired by permaculture, which is a whole philosophy within itself. Permaculture integrates land, natural resources and people through mutually beneficial systems and aims to have as little impact as possible, allowing nature to thrive and restoring the balance. We have used permaculture design for Jemima’s Kitchen Garden to promote a more sustainable and inclusive way of gardening, working and connecting with nature’s intimate cycles. People are integral to permaculture design, therefore, we have designed the garden with the guest journey in mind. I hope that the garden provides education, reflection and relaxation.

Why is attracting wildlife into natural spaces so important?

We must understand that we are all part of nature; there is no natural space without living beings. Jemima’s Kitchen Garden focuses on providing habitats for all sorts of wildlife to restore a healthy balance to the eco system. For example, we have a wildlife pond which attracts dragonflies, frogs and so on. These help with pest control to ensure that one species does not take hold. We never want to get rid of any ‘pest’ as this is a vital food source for the predators – we always keep this in mind and ensure to sow a surplus!

Jemima’s Kitchen Garden provides fresh home-grown produce for The Grove’s restaurants and bars. Can you give us a little more insight into your collaboration with the chefs on-site? 

Our aim is to work closely with the chefs. We’re looking to run some training sessions on how to pick herbs for cocktails and dishes without disrupting the surrounding vegetation and also to encourage chefs to pick only what they need to avoid waste. Any leftover produce we are looking to bring back to the garden to further feed the soil. We also of course want these sessions to be inspiring.

In the summer months, what produce can we expect to find more of in the gardens?

You’ll find all sorts of heat-loving produce including tomatoes, aubergines and chillies. Pumpkins, sweetcorn, beans, peas, luffa and cucumber will also be growing. We’ve got our own dedicated ‘Herbal Tea Bed’ for herbs and plants that can be used in cocktails, teas and pastries, including scented pelargoniums, cola Artemisia and other unusual aromatic plants. This is also where the mandarin lemon balm for The Grove Gin is sourced and the hops for The Grove Beer.

Alongside home-grown fruit, vegetables and herbs, the Walled Garden houses a bee hive for honey on tap. What are the benefits of having bee hives at The Grove and how do you look after them?

We have three bumble bee hives for pollination and honey bee hives in the Nursery. The main benefit is of course the delicious honey - this will be used in our gin and pastries. Additionally, the bees, along with so many other insects, are amazing pollinators. All insects are welcome in Jemima’s Kitchen Garden. The more wildlife we have, the stronger the ecosystem. This ties in with the permaculture ethos. We also have mason bees which are the early pollinators. We clean their nests each winter ahead of hatching season in April/May. 

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to grow their own mixed garden at home?

I would say to just give it a go! There really is nothing like your own experimentation. We all live in different areas that have specific microclimates and just by giving it a go you will learn so much. Another fundamental piece of advice I’d give is to also to observe your environment and see what you’ve got to work with. 

What’s next for Jemima’s Kitchen Garden?

Jemima’s Kitchen Garden by design is ever evolving and will constantly change. Just as nature ebbs and flows, so will the garden. In terms of upcoming plans and ideas, we’re working on designs for mini versions of Jemima’s Kitchen Garden, creating a grey water reed bed to recycle the outdoor pool’s shower water and thinking about building small geo-domes to be used as dining spaces outside the Potting Shed.

What do you like about Wolf & Badger?

Myself and the rest of the team love Wolf & Badger’s sustainable and ethical ethos as it aligns with our values. It’s great to be supporting companies who share the same goals as us.

The Grove's Chelsea Flower Show: Floral Pavlova 

Ingredients:

  • 200g egg white (Top tip: room temperature eggs work best)
  • 440g icing sugar
  • 400g double cream
  • 50g mascarpone
  • 1/4 vanilla pod
  • 1 peach – half sliced, half cubed
  • 10 raspberries – sliced in half
  • Honey (from Jemima’s Kitchen Garden)
  • edible flowers


Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 90°C

2. Place the egg whites and 400g icing sugar into a large bowl on a bain marie and whisk until the mix reaches 60°C

3. Once the mix is at temperature, transfer to an electric mixer and whip at high speed till cool

4. Onto a tray lined with baking paper, pipe blobs of the meringue mixture into a circular nest shape – approximately 20cm in diameter

5. If you’re feeling fancy, make a couple of meringue kisses by piping 3cm drop shapes elsewhere on your tray – leaving enough space between meringue to allow them to spread

6. Place in an oven and cook for 1.5 hours until the meringue is crunchy on the outside but a little soft and gooey in the middle

7. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue inside to cool with the door slightly ajar

8. Make the Mascarpone Chantilly by whipping the double cream, 40g icing sugar mascarpone and vanilla pod seeds together into soft peak

9. Place the cream into a piping bag and pipe onto the meringue creating height through the middle

10. Decorate the pavolva by placing slices and cubes of fresh peach onto the cream, along with the sliced raspberries (cut side facing up to avoid the juices bleeding onto the cream) and meringue kisses – if you made them

11. Garnish with edible flowers and a drizzle of honey.

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