Bee Friendly Garden Garnish
You don't need a large garden to grow your own cocktail cabinet. A sunny window sill, a balcony with containers, a patio or garden all can provide scented choices for gin cocktails to make and to garnish. The sun loving Mediterranean herbs such as Lavender, Rosemary, scented Geraniums and Sage provide for many months of the year. Whilst shadier spots welcome Mint, Basil. Lemon Verbena, Borage and Lemon balm. Edible flowers which can be grown in pots such as Nasturtiums, Dianthus, Jasmine, Cornflowers and Honey Suckle bring gorgeous colour to any cocktail.
Why not grow some garnish and save bees at the same time? Bees are in decline all over the world even though 2/3 of the worlds crops and flowers rely on them. Of 250 species of bees in the UK 35 species are currently under threat of extinction. But we can help their survival by growing bee friendly plants. Research has shown that there are a couple of plants that bees adore a little more than others - they also happen to be a perfect garnish for a gin cocktail.
These edible flowers are Lavender, Borage and Cornflowers and they are very easy to grow.
Research from the University of Sussex has shown that Lavender flowers attract more Bumble bees than Honey bees - its down to the Bumblebees longer tongue and ability to visit flowers more quickly. Lavender has 10 times as many Bumblebees visit as Honey bees.
The best Lavender for a garnish is an English Lavender - Lavendula Angestifolia- or the Hidcote or Munstead Variety - and these can be bought from any garden nursery. They are a little sweeter than other varieties so they can be used in cooking.
Borage is one of the most important honey plants and is also a valuable herb. The oil extracted from the seeds is known as star flower oil. It has ancient uses famously made into a drink of oblivion for Odysseus. The incredible blue flower of the Borage plant is extremely attractive to Honey Bees. Borage actually attracts 10 times as many Honey bees as Bumble bees. The flowers are beautiful as a garnish in any summer drink and the young leaves add great texture to a salad as they are succulent and have a scent of cucumber..
Borage is an annual plant best planted in spring. The seeds can be grown indoors in early spring and pricked out in the early summer. The flowers are pink initially and then they become blue. The plant has a long flowering period which is beneficial to all bees.
Wild Cornflower (Centaura Cyanus)
These are a UK native plant and once grew very vigorously throughout our corn fields drifting the country side with splashes of blue. Today they are rare in the wild. But they are easy to grow in our gardens from seeds planted in early spring in an open sunny spot. They can grow in poor soil and in containers.They flower all summer but do cut them constantly if you want them to flower all summer .
Foraged, home grown and wild crafted cocktails are our way of connecting with our countryside and history. We are always looking for new ways to serve our Welsh Sisters Gin and find delicious botanicals along the way. These are some of the seed suppliers we have used this year. Do get in touch with us if you have any suggestions too on: firstname.lastname@example.org.