Stories from friends & colleagues
In April 2012, Jekka’s Herb Farm celebrated its Silver Jubilee. Over the last 25 years, Jekka and Mac McVicar have achieved more than they initially envisaged when they first started their business and were living in a mobile home with two toddlers whilst they slowly established the farm and rebuilt Rose Cottage. In celebrations of all their achievements, friends and colleagues have kindly taken the time to write a story about the farm and Jekka. We are extremely grateful for their kind words and the support they have given us over the last 25 years.
"Jekka is my herbaceous girlfriend and an absolute star. We became good friends very quickly, bonding over all the different varieties of thyme, which I love to cook with. There was a lot to talk about: there are more than 100 varieties of thyme and, fresh or dry, it goes brilliantly with meat, fish, roast vegetables, cheese – pretty much anything. It can even be made into a tea and sprayed around doorways to repel insects and pests. Sadly it doesn't work on my kids… Anyway, in the time that I have known Jekka, she’s designed my herb garden at home and inspired every generation of students at my restaurant Fifteen, which will be 10 years old itself this year, to carry her passion for fresh herbs wherever they go. And what’s most inspiring for me, is that she’s constantly learning new things and passing on her knowledge.
Twenty-five years is an incredible amount of time to have been producing organic herbs and pushing the boundaries in the right direction when, sadly, the norm is to head in the other. Fewer young people have been taking an interest in horticulture, and the greater majority of farming methods are fighting a losing battle against nature, as opposed to working with it like Jekka and Mac have done for the last quarter of a century. Myself, my family, and everyone in the restaurants and charity send all our love to everyone at Jekka's Herb Farm." Jamie Oliver
"Jekka's show stands at Chelsea and Hampton Court have always stood out. I wasn't the first and won't be the last to be inspired by her incredible passion for herbs and her wealth of knowledge. One of the most memorable experiences with her was when I visited the farm (either to give a talk or a social visit, I forget) to find her preparing a load of stock plants for sale. Things like Escalonia resinoa, Westringia fruticosa variegata and Eriocephalus africanus. They had become rather large, and rather gangly in big pots and were taking up an unreasonable amount of space in her greenhouse. She didn't know at the time but I had just been chosen as the designer for the Saga Garden at Chelsea (in 2006) and had a plant list in mind which I'd already started working on sourcing. When I saw these mature shrubs, each with their own individual character and shape I could hardly contain my excitement and made my mind up there and then to completely change my planting palette. I think she thought I had gone a bit potty because I was like a blithering idiot unable to concentrate on what she was talking about and rushing off to make secret calls to the sponsor to get their approval. Once I was given the all clear I told Jekka that I wanted to buy the lot. Eventually she managed to get me to spill the beans and she then suggested a few other things she had hidden away. Getting the right plants and trying to create something slightly unusual is always tricky at Chelsea where nearly everything has been tried before but I went to bed that night happy that we had something that no one else would have...a big slice of Jekka McVicar and all her babies." Cleve West
'A story that comes to mind about working with Jekka is when she asked me to take a basil home to grow-on and shoot week a later or so. She had much more faith in my horticultural skills than I did as it wasn't a case of killing the basil - it didn't even make it back. She called the morning after the shoot to say she had found it squashed on her drive - I had run over it! Typical Jekka though, she never held it against me and we always have a great time shooting together on the farm.' Jason Ingram
“I would like to thank Jekka and Mac for what they have done at RHS Shows to publicize and promote herbs to the show visitors. Their exhibits are always inspiring and of the top most quality, not only with the superb plants but also in the ever-changing design and I know that is not easy. Jekka has become to Herbs what Harry Wheatcroft was to Roses when I started exhibiting and now David Austin is to Roses also. We all watched Mac doing the massive construction work to build the companies 2009 Chelsea Flower Show exhibit which of course won Gold and also the 2009 RHS top show award, the Lawrence Medal for the best exhibit of any type shown to the RHS at any of its shows during the year, a major achievement. To the whole Jekka Herb Farm Team I send our warmest congratulations for what has been achieved, may the publicity for Herbs continue.” Raymond J Evison