The gardens at Polesden Lacey were famed for its luxuriant and exuberant planting in its Edwardian heydays. Mrs Greville, the famous society hostess was one of the wealthiest ladies in the country and would have expected only the finest plants in the garden and finest ingredients in her kitchens.
She would have been delighted to see these 2000 Crocus sativus bulbs being planted in her sumptuous lavender garden. They will produce the most expensive spice in the world, saffron. Pound for pound it is worth more than gold. The reason for its exuberant cost is because each flower produces such a tiny amount of saffron... just three tiny, crimson strands
The crocus bulbs should flower in autumn, producing stunning lilac petals with dark purple veining and golden-yellow centres. The three dazzling bright red strands growing from the centre of the flower are the bits that are harvested, dried and used to flavour dishes.
Saffron was probably introduced to England by the Romans, and grew so successfully that it gave its name to places such as Saffron Walden.
If you want to be really decadent, try simply sprinkling saffron into creamy mashed potato…it’s far nicer than using it to flavour rice dishes.
If you aren’t as rich as Mrs Greville, and can’t afford to buy saffron, then cook with turmeric instead….cheap skates ;-)