Visiting an Iconic Vegetable Garden

I grow a lot of vegetables; we are almost self-sufficient for most of the year which I have to admit actually gives me almost more pleasure than the rest of the garden.  The first time I made Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables using ALL my own produce (including the olive oil) I had such a deep sensation of contentment it is hard to describe.  Now it is something I make on almost a weekly basis from the end of July onwards; I still have enough of everything to make it one last time this year, but the courgettes are like marrows so I may use butternut squash instead this time.

I love cooking as much as I do working in the garden so I was thrilled with my birthday present from my husband (last mention of the birthday I promise); dinner and a night at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.

Even the planted turning circle in the car park had a culinary twist

Even the planted turning circle in the car park had a culinary twist

This was our room, a converted dovecote

This was our room, a converted dovecote

Many of the rooms had their own gardens, this isn’t ours but I liked that apples had been used for the arch around the gate of this one rather than purely decorative flowers

Many of the rooms had their own gardens, this isn’t ours but I liked that apples had been used for the arch around the gate of this one rather than purely decorative flowers

I had heard so much about the vegetable and herb gardens and orchard which provide some of the organic vegetables used in the restaurant that the very first thing I wanted to do when we arrived was to look at how things were grown, which varieties are Raymond Blanc’s favourites and if possible chat to the gardeners to pick up any valuable tips.

First tip – stop pulling out the weed that grows all over the garden and begin harvesting it instead! If it’s good enough for the restaurant at Le Manoir it’s certainly good enough for the table here!

Portulaca oleracea Summer purslane 'Green

Portulaca oleracea Summer purslane ‘Green

To think I’ve been putting this in the compost.

Second – don’t worry when I mix up the labels on my tomato plants (they do that at Le Manoir too)

Thirdly and this is something we should all think about – grow mainly produce that is difficult to find or that it is essential to use very fresh.

Neat rows of vegetables

Neat rows of vegetables

I was surprised that zucchini (courgettes) were being grown in a poly tunnel!

I was surprised that zucchini (courgettes) were being grown in a poly tunnel!

They grow zucchini romanesco which is my choice too for green zucchini

I’m glad the snails in my garden aren’t as large as this!

I’m glad the snails in my garden aren’t as large as this!

The bronze scare crow is Raymond Blanc himself!

The bronze scare crow is based on Raymond Blanc himself!

The vegetable garden can’t possibly produce enough for the restaurant which serves several hundred covers a day so they grow the special varieties that can’t be purchased commercially.  I was interested to see that they plant their lemon grass outside during the summer, I have always left mine in its pot but will try it outside next year, I think it will benefit from more space and certainly from more water.

The meal was amazing, the presentation and attention to detail perfect.  I have never stayed anywhere that I was made to feel so special by perfectly trained, friendly staff who were never aloof or superior.

Breakfast was incredible, although it was difficult to do it justice after the dinner of the previous evening

Breakfast was incredible, although it was difficult to do it justice after the dinner of the previous evening.  This is just a tiny part of the selection – it was so good I’d come here just for breakfast if I could

If you have the opportunity to eat or stay at Le Manoir, go; you’ll enjoy every second!

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33 thoughts on “Visiting an Iconic Vegetable Garden

  1. I haven’t been as lucky as to stay there but we have had a wonderful dinner and chose the vegetarian options as I feel they are even more of a challenge. We had an amazing meal but unfortunately it was in the evening and we had no time to see the vegetable garden.

  2. Lovely present, lucky girl ;). Always wanted to go there and it seems as good as they say. Cooking and gardening, books, loving husband…not much more needed for a happy life, I’d say.

  3. LOOKS AMAZING….and super romantic. Do you thing the zucc. was under the tunnel for more heat? Or to prevent the squash vine borer???? SVB is my arch enemy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. What a fantastic present, no wonder you enjoyed it so much, it must have been wonderful wandering through such a marvellous vegetable garden, then to eat the produce – amazing!

  5. This is a place I’ve got to see. Always gratifying that famous gardens aren’t as nitpicky as you think you should be. And it really does make sense to grow the things that must be fresh or are hard to find – that’s why I grow basil. I must admit most things we buy at the farmers’ market when its open or at the store.

  6. What a fabulous birthday present! This vegetable garden looks incredible, and the meals sound outstanding. Your own vegetable garden must be very special, too. I am impressed that you make your own olive oil!

  7. What a great escape, it looks like a real nice comfortable space… with delicious food… what a perfect combination! I might have to ramp up the birthday presents around here 😉

  8. Oh wow! This would be a dream come true for me. I love the apples over the archway and just love the idea of making a vegetable garden into an ornate garden too. This is ‘right up my street’ and very inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

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