Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

knot garden

  • Half a Hundred Herbs Week 38 Scented-leaf Geranium

    3 pots of geraniumsThese are the scented leaf geraniums I bought last year. They have overwintered in the house on a north-facing windowsill, but now that the weather is warmer, they are in the greenhouse. By the end of the month it should be warm enough to put them outside on the patio, but as they are frost-tender, being from South Africa, I will have to wait for the threatened cold snap to be behind us before I take any risks. The lemon verbena which seems to be thriving in the open air will also have to come back in for a night or two!

    The leaves of my geraniums are scented with apple, lemon and rose. You can also get some vairieties with scents of eucalyptus, peach, pineapple and balsam – there’s even one listed in Jekka McVicar’s book which smells of chocolate mint. She lists twenty-three varieties, but I have gone for the ones I think I will make most use of.

    The leaves can be used to flavour such things as cakes, jellies and syrups -you don’t eat them, but remove them once the flavour is sufficiently strong. I will probably concentrate on steeping them in oil for scent, and for pot pourri.

    Mny of my herbs are putting on some strong growth now, and, although the plants seem rather puny (especially the rosemary), yu can now make out the concept of the knot garden:

    knot gardenI have sowed marigolds, cornflowers and poppy seeds in the spaces, so I hope it will be more colourful during the summer.

  • Out of my Head and into the Garden

    windowsill herbsWe hit a milestone this week. when I went out this morning it was light for the first time, and although it is cold and wet, and was seriously icy this morning, this is the week that gardening finally got outside.

    I’ve done a bit of clearing, and weeded the world’s smallest knot garden. Nothing is looking very bright there yet, (so no photos), but it looks as though all the plants have come through the winter. The southernwood plants are bare and floppy, and I was convinced I’d lost one, but there are buds forming on even the most puny and motheaten, and I have some confidence.

    I am not so sure about my lavenders, however. They look as though they have taken a bashing, and though there may well be some regrowth as the weather warms up, I’m convinced I’ve lost a few. I should have overwintered them in the greenhouse, with the agapanthus and myrtle and some other stuff i got nervous about. Mostly this paid off, and there are signs of new growth on the mint, myrtle and tarragon. I took some cuttings of scented-leaf geraniums and lavender dentata, and most of them are well-rooted. I potted them up yesterday, and they are looking quite perky.


    I’ve also made some thyme disinfectant, which you make by boiling up a lot of the prunings of the thyme currently billowing all  over the steps with plenty of water for about an hour. You get a very sinister brown liquid which smells, but not too strongly, of herbs, and which has a reputation for being useful in combating germs – even MRSA and other troublesome strains of bacteria. This is just in time for some heavy duty spring-cleaning coming up over the next week or two – the disnfectant will keep, in a cold place, for about a month.

    propagating bench

    Next week is StAnza, and I will be there for most of it. My head is spinning with all the good thingsthyme pot on offer, which you can discover here, but I’m particularly looking forward to Clare Trevien’s Shipwrecked House, a workshop with Gerrie Fellowes about poetry sequences, and a poetry breakfast (which comes with Danish pastries, as if I won’t have had a StAndrews breakfast) with Christine de Luca, Kei Miller and others. This is all well and good, but it means I’ll be leaving the seed sowing until after I get back. And then garden gardening will begin in earnest.


  • Half a Hundred Herbs – Looking Forward to 2015


    the new stockbed


    This is the stock bed at the concept stage  last year, and this is the same bed in May when things were beginning to move.

    stock bed mayBy September, it looked like this:

    stock bed septembera bit overgrown and weedy, but you can see that there are more plants, everything has grown bigger and sprawled about a lot, and the new chamomile bed, which started off as one plant in a pot I bought at the Gardening Scotland show, is in full flower. It’s only two feet by four at this point, but I never thought I’d be able to have a chamomile lawn at all, so I’m happy.

    I never thought I’d be able to have a knot garden either, but look:

    worlds smallest knot gardenThis has bedded in now, and seems to be coping with the cold and wet. I realise that I am in for more meticulous weeding than I generally care for, to maintain the clear outlines of such a formal bed, but I’m sure the discipline will be good for me.

    I’m hoping to keep up the knot garden next year, double the size of the chamomile lawn, and create some more exciting planting combinations with the plants that have matured. I had hoped to add a cutting bed, and have flowers for drying, but reality intervened, and there won’t be room for that sort of caper. I’ll just be growing what I’ve been growing, only with more attention, and trying to make good use of the many curious and interesting plants that I have managed to come by.

    I have drawn up a list of the herbs in the territory – some wild as well as the ones I grow on purpose: It’s a pdf. file here – herb list. That should keep me busy!

    Happy New Year everybody!


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