Grow Your Own Wimbledon Experience
Be Wimbledon ready with Pimm's, strawberries & cream, tidy lawn, comfy lounger
Jamie Oliver Lounger in nutmeg (pictured above)
It’s that time of year for Wimbledon; the epitome of the height of an English summer, along with test cricket, Henley Regatta and warm rain. The very essence of Wimbledon is crisp grass, strawberries and cream and Pimm’s. As very few of us actually manage to go to the tournament, we’ll just have to re-create all the elements and watch the games on a tablet in the garden. Why fight the queues and harassment at the airport; tidy the back garden, invest in a comfortable garden chair and revel in two weeks of Englishness. Experience a stay-cation where the accommodation is comfortable and the service superb. You don’t have to dress for dinner or be polite to other guests; you can even stay in your PJ’s all day.
The main element of Wimbledon is the crisp, green lawn, at least at the start of the tournament. To get good stripes in your lawn you need a good fine grass mixture containing a lot of fescue and very little or no perennial ryegrass. Feed the lawn 2 – 3 times a year with a propriety lawn fertiliser, this will produce a good thick sward which will stripe easier, and keep well watered.
The best quality cut comes from a cylinder mower with super-sharp blades; the stripes come from the way the light reflects off the blades of grass. A cylinder mower has a roller at the back and flattens the grass as it is being mowed. If you don’t have a cylinder mower you will need a roller to achieve the effect. When looking down a lawn, the grass which is bent away from you will look light coloured whereas the grass bending towards you looks darker in comparison. Don’t cut the grass too short as longer grass will bend further over and give a more pronounced stripe effect.
Start the cut by mowing parallel to a path or border edge and just keep going, mowing each stripe parallel to the last. It is easier to achieve straight stripes on a rectangular lawn but striping an irregular shaped lawn will just need a bit more practice. A straight line is easier to achieve if you look about 3.6m (12’) ahead, rather than at the area immediately in front of you. Only ever mow forwards, don’t go backwards and forwards over the same patch. For sheer flawlessness all that now needs doing is going around the edge with a sharp cutter. Now you’ve achieved centre court perfection on your lawn; it’s time to turn to food and booze.
It is really easy to grow your own strawberries for the Pimm’s and the strawberries and cream; and they taste much, much more flavoursome than shop-bought fruit. Just give them rich soil, plenty of water and sunshine. Grow them in containers, just make sure there are adequate drainage holes in the bottom; cover the holes with a piece of crock to prevent them becoming blocked with silt. Fill with good quality peat-free multi-purpose compost and add a balanced controlled-release fertiliser. Plant 3 plants in a 30cm (12”) diameter pot and place the pot in full sunshine. Make sure they don’t dry out otherwise the fruits won’t swell and become juicy but will remain small and hard. Once they have started to form fruits start feeding weekly with a high potash fertiliser, such as Tomorite, this will encourage the formation of more fruits. If you are growing them in the garden mulch with straw to keep the berries clean. Unfortunately the slugs and snails like them just as much as we do so you will need to take action against the ravenous little monsters.
Mint for your Pimm’s is another really easy plant to grow; just don’t plant it in your garden as it is a complete thug and will strangle other adjacent plants. If you want it in the garden plant it in a plastic pot and sink the pot into the ground. Just plant into a fairly large pot, at least 20cm (8”) in diameter, into good quality peat-free multi-purpose compost. Place in a sunny position and keep just damp. It tends to grow round in circles, so eventually the centre of the plant will become very sparse and woody. When this happens take it out of the pot and cut off the healthy sections of plant from around the edge and just re-pot.
Cucumbers are also needed for the Pimm’s experience; the most prolific varieties are usually grown under cover but some varieties can be grown outdoors in a south facing, sheltered spot in full sun. Plant them in good quality peat-free multi-purpose compost, keep them well watered and fed, give them something to climb up and you’ll be rewarded with a good crop. Try Cetriolo Marketer, an Italian variety ideal for growing outdoors; but be warned it can reach 3m (9’) so needs a good support system. When planting incorporate some balanced fertiliser into the compost; as soon as small cucumbers begin to form start feeding with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato feed, this will encourage the formation of more cucumbers.
Finally we need oranges; these are moderately easy to grow but you do need a sunny window or conservatory, so they must be grown in a pot. They can go outside in summer but in the UK must be brought back indoors in autumn. They need planting in a dedicated citrus compost which is very free draining. Feed with a citrus fertiliser from spring to early autumn, spray with a fine mist in the morning as they need a humid atmosphere in summer; it also helps to stand them on a tray of damp gravel. Spraying also helps deter red spider mite which thrive in a warm dry atmosphere. The fruits can take up to a year to mature after the flowers have been pollinated so the plant will typically have flowers and fruit at the same time. Allow to become a little dry between waterings. They will produce long whippy shoots, just cut these back to maintain a nice compact plant.
Now we have all the ingredients for the Pimm’s all that’s left is to mix 1 part Pimm’s Number 1 to 3 parts lemonade in a large jug with ice, add a few sprigs of mint, slices of orange and cucumber and strawberries cut into a fan. Cut strawberries in half, sprinkle with a little sugar, leave to stand for about 30 minutes pour over sweetened double cream, lightly whipped and we’re almost ready for an afternoon of Wimbledon. Check the tablet is fully charged and it’s time to relax on a comfy garden chair.
The Suncoast Zero Gravity Relaxer is ideal for a comfortable afternoon in the garden; it reclines to almost any position and folds up neatly when not in use.
Suncoast Zero Gravity Relaxer
A pricier option is the Jamie Oliver Lounger but it is the ultimate in comfort and even has a small pull-out table to keep your Pimm’s and strawberries close to hand.
Now you have the Pimms, strawberries and cream, impeccable lawn and a comfy lounger, lie back and enjoy the game.
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