The great British summer is synonymous with long days spent in the garden and al fresco meals incorporating the freshest seasonal vegetables. Located in the leafy village of Evershot, Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa grows its own herbs and vegetables throughout the year. With summer at full pitch, we catch up with the hotel’s Head Gardener, Michael Francis, to discuss what seeds to sow right now and which vegetables to look out for on the menu.
What are the best vegetables to enjoy in the UK this summer?
“The variety and quality of vegetables available all around the UK is amazing, and there’s a vast amount of seasonal produce on offer. Even die-hard carnivores will be tempted by dishes that make the most of freshly harvested runner beans, courgettes and fennel, as well as broccoli, samphire and summer squash. Create beautiful salads with greens and spring onion, radishes, rocket, watercress, and new potatoes. When selecting berries, look out for sharp blackcurrants and sweet strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.”
Which British summer vegetables are easiest to grow at home?
“The simplest are salad leaves. All you need is a container, a seed tray and a plant pot filled with compost. Make a small trench in the compost and empty the seeds into the trench, before covering the seeds back up, and then water. Keep the compost watered regularly. Within six weeks, the seeds will germinate, and you’ll notice the salad leaves starting to sprout. Once the plants have grown to the size you want them, they are ready to be cut and eaten alongside the other vegetables of your choosing. As a special touch, Summer Lodge provides children who stay with us easy-to-grow vegetables in small plant pots.”
Do you think the trend for farm-to-fork vegetables is growing?
“I think more and more people are considering a plant-based diet. Whether reducing the amount of meat they consume or excluding meat completely, people are feeling inspired and gaining the confidence to be more creative with the meals they make.”
What is Summer Lodge growing in its gardens right now?
“We have a continuous supply of salad leaves available from March until late November growing in our polytunnel, in addition to a bounty of other vegetables. Off the top of my head, there are peas, sweetcorn, potatoes and courgettes, as well as herbs, such as chives, rosemary, parsley, mint, and coriander. We also grow fruits—strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, white currants, apples, pears, rhubarb—I’m sure there’s more.
All of our fresh produce stars on Summer Lodge’s award-winning fine-dining menus and is enjoyed by the staff, too. Last August, we created an afternoon tea featuring the finest picks from the hotel’s kitchen garden as well as freshly baked scones and delicious cakes. Guests can look forward to yet more exceptional offerings this year.”
Sample freshly picked produce and in-season British summer vegetables in the dining room at Red Carnation Hotels’ Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa.