Pray, Love, Remember

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Aphrodite rose from the sea draped in rosmarinus, dew of the sea {ros ~ dew; marinus ~ sea} and Greek scholars wore garlands of it round their neck when sitting examinations to improve their memory and concentration.

With the advent of Christianity the association was moved from Aphrodite to Mary and the plant renamed rosemary {rose of Mary} accordingly. Personally I prefer the poetry of the ‘dew of the sea’ to the rather dull ‘rose of Mary’ but to paraphrase the Bard, ‘a rosemary by any other name would smell as sweet’ and despite this religious re-branding its properties as an aide-mémoire remained recognised. However it wasn’t until as recently as 2013 that a study by the University of Northumbria provided proof.

Unknown in Britain before 1375 when it did arrive on these shores its properties were valued by playwrights and philosophers, gardeners and cooks alike. True to its Mediterranean origins it loves hot, dry conditions but can just as easily be grown in a window box on a Scottish isle as it can on a Greek island. If I could grow only one plant it would be this, evergreen it provides colour in the garden and taste in the kitchen all year round.


A trio of rosemary were the first plants I added to the Secret Garden, on top of the potting bench against a west-facing wall provides the perfect hot, dry conditions for them and they have thrived. Within easy striking distance of the kitchen there are few dishes that can’t be enhanced with a few sprigs of rosemary and there’s nothing that can put the ‘party‘ into the Secret Garden Party quite like a jar of  rosemary and strawberry gin!


The resulting alchemy creates a taste of summer that your guests will love, it will turn them all {each and every one} into Greek philosophers and ensure they remember forever the wonderful afternoon they spent sitting in the sun putting the world to rights.

Although it is simple to create it’s best to make this a week or two before your party to allow the flavours time to merge but chopping strawberries is as strenuous as this recipe gets…

Rosemary and Strawberry Gin





{*quantities variable according to personal taste, feel free to experiment}


Rinse the rosemary in warm water and pat dry in kitchen towel. Crush the sprigs lightly by hand to release the oils.

Wash and dry the strawberries and chop in half.

Throw everything into a sterilised jar and cover with gin. {**Any old gin will do or if you prefer you can substitute with any old vodka}.

Then simply sit back and wait for the magic to happen.





All the Fun of the Fair


‘It’s market weather’ the guid folk o Fife sagely say as biting winds blow the April showers horizontal. Every year the longest street fair in Europe, the Links Market, gathers in the Lang Toon to kick-start the season and the weather is normally notoriously dreadful. Not so this year.


In the Secret Garden temperatures climbed steadily into the high 40’s and the Easter family gathering spilled outdoors into the courtyard inadvertently becoming the inaugural Secret Garden Party.


I always like to welcome guests with a cocktail {or two} and this one is particularly topical and tasty.

The Cotton Candy Cocktail.


To make your own Cotton Candy Cocktail couldn’t be easier all you need is a bottle of prosecco and a bag of candy floss. Simply tear the candy floss into chunks, pop into a large jug, add the bottle of prosecco and serve. Pitcher perfect!

The gathering highlighted a few wee glitches in the garden, waggy tails welcoming guests don’t work well with terracotta pots which have all since been replaced with wooden tubs.


But it wasn’t all beer and skittles and in between entertaining I managed to find time to clear away the brambles that threatened the hydrangea and some of the dead wood from the fuchsia. And after all that I spent the last afternoon of the long weekend curled up in the old wicker chair with a good book. Bliss.