Lucy Hyslop, who curates our Flower + Fodder programme, gives us the lowdown on all things gardening at this year’s Port Eliot.
Every year, the plot thickens in the gardening department of the Festival’s Flower + Fodder Stage. Little wonder when we’re hugged – and inspired – by a Grade 1 listed park (created by landscape designer Humphry Repton) that’s home to wonderful seasons of wild garlic, hellebores and snowdrops, a Rhododendron Garden that’s more than 100 years old, and an Orangery built in the 1840s where citrus fruits were grown.
So we’ve revelled in myriad horticultural stars over the years – from Port Eliot Festival regular Dan Pearson and Anna Pavord to Tregothnan’s Jonathon Jones and our own head gardener Mike Warr – lapping up their enthusiasm for gardens and taking as much of their knowledge home to cultivate in our plots. We’ve been treated to gardens of delight through the genius of Benjamin Ranyard of Higgledy Garden and Tony Howard (who trained at Great Dixter and is now co-owner of Harborough Nurseries in Hastings).
And this year green-fingered touch is equally exceptional: Both on Friday July 28, Aaron Bertelsen, the vegetable gardener and cook at Great Dixter (pictured above), kicks off with his The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes from an English Garden at 11am, and later we can luxuriate in the celebrated garden designs of Isabel and Julian Bannerman and their long-awaited first book, Landscape of Dreams (at 2pm).
As for the culinary connection, watch out for the salad and vegetable expertise of local growers, Sean O’Neill of The Modern Salad Grower and Ross Geach, who runs the Padstow Kitchen Garden.
This year, our Lark’s Haven Spa Massages are rising to a new level of sublime by using our own especially created Port Eliot Massage Oil. Made with wild-harvested flowers, plants and herbs collected on our Estate and made in the House by local herbalist Ruth Weaver the oil captures the essence of Port Eliot in a bottle. Daisy, Dandelion, Yarrow, Plantain, Birch, Lime and Oak are combined with the Wild Rose, Geranium and Frankincense. The oil is healing, detoxifying, soothing and rejuvenating and it smells delicious! Book your massage here.
As ever, Michael Howells, Port Eliot Festival’s creative director, will curate and judge the Flower + Fodder Show in the Basement (enter via the North Door) with floral challenges – that wittily go under such titles as: Always Look on the Bright Side, Limerick, A Man Walks into a Bar…
Entry is free to the public with a festival or Friday ticket. Go on, have a go and sign up here. See you in the garden…