Emperor of autumn

Saffron bed
Saffron in the garden

When we first moved out to our block we thought about various things we could do with it and one of the things that really gripped me was saffron. I went off and read some books and articles, including a really interesting one about medieval use of saffron by nuns to get them through marathon singing episodes (apparently it’s very soothing). I call it the emperor of autumn because the flowers are purple, the colour of empire, and of course it flowers in the autumn, with brilliant fiery red stamen that are worth their weight in gold (almost).

Saffron flower
Saffron flower

So our friend Rowley hooked us up with a supplier of bulbs and we put 100 of them in a small patch of vege garden. Since then we’ve had crops every year, usually in April or May, which we dry in the kitchen bay window, then store for about 3 months and then consume over the next year.This year’s crop has been amazing though, we’ve had just so much more than ever before I am certain that the bulbs have split in two and are producing off both halves. I think that means that this year I have to lift them all, split them into two bulbs and replant them.

Saffron stamens pulled out
Pull out the stamens

If that’s correct this is the perfect time as the new herber (medieval pleasure garden) is progressing finally. The lawn section is done and we’re really just waiting on a weekend that isn’t filled with social engagements to start levelling the garden bed and path part. The plan has six rectangular beds with golden pebbled paths with occasional paver flagstones embedded in it and a space in the centre. At first I wanted a pond in the centre, then a fountain and for a while I couldn’t be bothered and decided just to put the sundial there. But now I have found the perfect thing – a ‘font’ (see below). It has just the right look and is exactly the right size and will look fantastic.

Saffron stamens
Firey red stamens

Stamens drying
Saffron stamens drying in the window

Jar of saffron
Jar of dried saffron – more to come.
Dragonstone font
Dragonstone font