Blossoms of Spring Gin
We have an abundance of apple, cherry, pear, apricot and peach trees here at the Secret Garden. If you come to visit and take a walk around the glasshouse in mid-March it is a blaze of pink and white peach and apricot blossom. Visually it is incredible and the smell is intoxicating. It is probably my favourite two to three weeks in the glasshouse in the whole year, as the blossoms fill you with hope and excitement for the new year to come. The trees in the glasshouse bloom early, about a month earlier than the outside pear, apple and cherry trees, and it is too early for the honey and bumblebees to pollinate the blossoms. So around every 3-4 days I lightly dust all the blossoms with a small feather duster, so there is a transfer of pollen - I love doing this task, it is such a therapy to take your time working with such beautiful and aromatic flowers. By doing this, it means the blossoms are fertilised and they will produce an abundance of fruit - we have always been blessed with huge crops of apricots, peaches and pears in the glasshouse.
Yarrow is one of my favourite herbs, an ancient herb so linked with our Druidic past and as sacred as the mistletoe and yew. Its Latin name is Achillea millefolium as it was said to have healed Achille’s army, and it is called millefolium as the leaf is made up of a thousand little segments. It is also called carpenters friend, as it stops the bleeding from cuts - I have personally used it for this so many times, it is such an incredible healer. The white magical flowers have a scent all of their own, it is hard to describe as it isn’t floral but musky and tantalising - we use it in our wild gin, non-alcoholic spirit and where ever I can -hence in this month's gin. It adds such a level of depth and complexity! You’ll find yarrow by the roadside, in a lawn or a park. Some people may call it a ‘weed’ but I call it incredible.
For this month’s gin, I have collected apricot blossoms and handed them over to Mark, our head distiller, who will use them along with yarrow to work his magic on the spirit to produce a beautifully elegant gin.
- Hamish Martin