Eight brave neighbours of mine got together to stage an ‘Open Gardens’ day this weekend. The day could not have been more glorious – a typical English summer day, bright and warm from the off.
The route through the village provided a peep behind the gates into some of the most amazing spaces. Some filled with quintessential blooms of delphiniums, foxgloves, hollyhocks, clematis, roses and the rest. And others were tranquil areas of trees providing an uplifting dappled light.
The event brought the community together, my husband was on ticket and car park duty whilst I made teas and coffees and sold cakes in the village hall with many others who had rolled up their sleeves. It was hard work but well-worth it, as £1600 was raised towards the Memorial Hall refurbishment fund. And for many, it was a grand day out – especially as The Brewer’s Arms http://www.brewersarmsclayworth.co.uk/ and the The Blacksmiths https://www.blacksmithsclayworth.com/ were both open for business and offering a discount. What more could you want?
My own garden is very small but I endeavour to fill it with colour- and perhaps, when it’s time for the next ‘Open Gardens’ day in a couple of years’ time, I will be brave enough to open the gate to it too.
I make Elderflower Cordial every year and the time to make this wonderful, refreshing ‘summer in a bottle’ is now! Get out and pick some of those lovely, fragrant blossoms fast – before they fade. Top tip – try to find an elderflower tree that is not on a busy road. They grow just about everywhere and should be easy to find,
Refreshing Elderflower Cordial is so summery
Every year at this time I collect elderflower heads and remember my Mum. It was the last thing that we did together a couple of weeks before she died twelve years ago. She had a large elderflower tree at the bottom of her garden. She reached up with her walking stick to bring down the biggest blooms for me. This refreshing, summery drink is literally bittersweet for me, she loved it – and everyone who has tried it since loves it too.
Refreshing Elderflower Cordial is such a good mixer
Mix it with prosecco, gin, vodka – or sparkling water of course – and it can be used to flavour cakes and desserts. It is so easy to make, I ans sure that you will be impressed at just how good it is – and everyone else will be too. Here’s how to make elderflower cordial:
One and a half litres (two and a half pints) cold water
A large saucepan
A large mixing bowl
A wooden spoon
A clean muslin cloth
Some clean, reusable plastic or glass bottles
Gently shake the elderflower heads to remove any ‘wildlife’
Put the sugar and 1.5 litres (2 ½ pints) of water into a saucepan, bring to the boil. Stir from time to time to dissolve the sugar. Remove the zest from the lemons in broad strips with a peeler and put in a bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemons thinly and add to the bowl. When the sugar syrup has come to the boil, pour over the flowers and lemons. Stir in the citric acid. Cover with a clean dry cloth and leave in a cool, dark place for 24 hours.
Strain the cordial through a muslin-lined nylon sieve into a large bowl or container. Pour into warm, sterilised bottles and seal. (Or plastic water bottles for the freezer, just remember to leave enough space for expansion. This way you can have the taste of summer at Christmas!)
Leave to cool and keep in the refrigerator. It will last for four to six weeks.