Isn’t it a bind when you have to drag yourself out of your fuschia outdoor beanbag every time you need to refill your cocktail glass? Plant this simple edible pot and you’ll have the ingredients for not one, but two classic summer cocktails at your fingertips. You’ll still have to buy your own paper umbrellas though.
Jewel-like alpine strawberries and lush, green mint are offset by the glorious cerulean blue flowers of the borage to make a container fit for even the most chic al fresco enthusiasts. Wild strawberries have a much more aromatic, intense flavour than the larger cultivated varieties, and are so tiny you just pop them into the glass whole.
[Photos: Sarah Cuttle]
When to do: early-mid summer
You will need
Crocks, shingle or polystyrene pieces
1 large pot about 40cm in diameter
peat-free multipurpose compost
1 x 20cm diameter plastic pot with the bottom cut off
1 mint plant – spearmint or garden mint is ideal but any is fine
2 wild strawberry plants (also known as alpine or woodland strawberry) such as Mignonette or Alexandria
1 borage plant
How to do it
Add a layer of crocks, shingle or chunks of broken polystyrene to the bottom of the large pot, then fill it two-thirds with compost. Make a hollow with your hands at one side of the pot and push the bottomless 20cm pot in so that the rim is just above the level of the compost.
Plant the mint in this smaller pot, adding more compost to firm it in well. This confines the roots of the mint, otherwise it would take over the container. Then plant the strawberries and the borage in the remaining space, making sure the strawberries are near the edge. Water well and place in a sunny, sheltered spot.
Makes 1 glass
14 freshly picked mint leaves, plus a sprig to decorate
1 and a half teaspoons white caster sugar
juice of half a lime
4 large ice cubes
2 measures light rum
2 measures Angostura bitters
sparkling mineral water
Put the mint, sugar and lime juice in a glass tumbler and bash everything together with the back of a fork. Crush the ice cubes in a pestle and mortar and spoon into the glass. Add the rum and Angostura bitters, then top with sparkling water and decorate with a sprig of mint.
1 bottle of Pimms No.1 Cup
1 large bottle lemonade
plenty of ice cubes
2 handfuls freshly picked wild strawberries
1 handful freshly picked mint sprigs
10 borage flowers
Mix the Pimm’s with the lemonade in a large jug according to the instructions on the bottle, leaving a third at the top to allow for the fruit and ice. Add the ice cubes, strawberries and mint. Stir, then scatter over the borage flowers just before serving.
This is an edited extract from The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell (Kyle Books)
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Alex Mitchell Garden Writer
View all posts by Alex Mitchell Garden Writer