What Should a Gardener Drink?

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Guest Post by Linda Larson

One of my favorite BBC shows is “As Time Goes By” with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer playing Jean and Lionel. In the show, many a dilemma is smoothed over with the quintessential British option of a Gin & Tonic. I notice that bit because my cocktail of choice is a G & T. After all, what else should a gardener drink? Gin is infused with botanicals such as juniper berries, lemon peel, almonds, cucumber, chamomile, angelica root, apple, coriander, leaves, fruits, and flowers; it is a liquid combination of the garden. 

I’ve been traveling in England for a few weeks and I was surprised to discover that gin is having its moment of fame all over the cocktail- and retail-scape of the country. How else can you explain the varieties of gins for sale in the market?

Take a look at these flavors: I didn’t know rhubarb was so popular in England. It’s in nearly every garden, there are special growing techniques, and it shows up in many a sweetened cake at tea time, but I certainly didn’t expect a rhubarb gin.

Kew Gardens, using the power of all its important botanical science, is making its own bespoke gin from the flowers and botanicals it grows. Kew grows a lot of wonderful plants to select from.

Elderflower, a tiny white blossom that brightens the hedgerows in spring, is a very popular flavor here. It’s used in cakes and, of course, it makes a good gin. Elderflower is thought to help with the effects of the common cold, so this variety of gin could be seen as medicinal.

Right: sloe berries

At the Binsey Fete, near Oxford, one of the fundraising booths was offering straight shots of gin. Nearby a very popular pub, The Perch, was infusing an enormous jar of alcohol with sloe berries, which in time would become sloe gin.

I hadn’t been that close to sloe gin since a memorable experience in college.

The enthusiasm for gin goes beyond the cocktail hour. How else can you explain, G & T lip balm, bath salts, and body soap?  Then the real puzzler, G & T popcorn?

If you’re getting into this idea then you will need to do some research. Be assured there are no shortages of books on the subject.

You can keep your feet warm with a pair of G & T socks while you’re doing your social correspondence with a G & T card.

I’m still here in England. . . .the temperature is dropping, it rained all day, and frankly, my thirst for a G & T is highest during the hot days of a Phoenix, AZ summer.  Gin and Tonic ice cream would be just the thing for a summer refreshment.  

Seriously, gin is the thing here and I’m still looking to see how many more ways the Brits love their G & T.  I’ll get back to you as I need to sample a few more as well.

The Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanical garden in England. This year it was the 30th year of the Lettering Arts Trust exhibitions in the garden. This year’s theme is “An Elixir of Letters,” with artwork focused on drink, so there’s a perfect seat for me to contemplate this season of gin. The inscription engraved around the stone bench reads, Juniper Berries, Coriander Seeds, Angelica Root, Orris Root, Orange Peel, Gin & Sit.”

Linda Larson has been traveling the world through gardens for the last 10 years and visited over 800 gardens in 25 countries and all 50 states. She’s advocates for public green space and the value of nature in our lives. She gardens in Mesa, Arizona and will be speaking at the Northwest Flower Festival in Seattle in Feb, 2019. Her topic: “The Best View of Our World is Through a Garden.” This guest post was originally published on A Traveling Gardener. 

5 COMMENTS

  1. Ahhhh, the botanical gins of the UK are indeed delightful. On this side of the pond, give Empress 1908 gin a go. It is a lovely blue and adds quite a festive note to a party, especially a gardener’s party.

  2. Did you try the rhubarb gin? I have a lot of gin in my freezer… wonder if you can infuse gin after it’s been frozen….:)

    • I muddle cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro (credit to Amy Stewart and her book The Drunken Botanist) w/ gin and it enhances the flavor beautifully. I would think rhubarb could do the same w/ gin.

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