Each morning, Rosemoor gardener Pete Adams takes a trailer full of fresh produce picked that day from the veg garden to the kitchen, where it’s transformed into dishes for the RHS garden’s restaurant – which has a new look and new menus.

It must be a chef’s dream – to have your fruit and vegetables supplied by a Royal Horticultural Society garden.

For Amanda Andrews, it’s a case of thinking cap on when a trailer loaded with veg picked that day arrives at the kitchen door.

Amanda is head chef in the restaurant at RHS Garden Rosemoor, a position which over the years has led to a close working relationship with Rosemoor’s edibles manager Peter Adams.

If you happen to be arriving at Rosemoor early in the morning you might see Pete delivering that day’s produce, straight from the veg garden to the kitchen.

Great British Life: Chef Amanda Andrews sources rocket for salads that will be served in the restaurant. Photo: RHS/Guy HarropChef Amanda Andrews sources rocket for salads that will be served in the restaurant. Photo: RHS/Guy Harrop

Amanda and Pete always meet at the beginning of the growing year to talk about what will be coming up through the seasons, and for Amanda to put in any requests, although, as she says: ‘I don’t usually say no to anything!’

For visitors, seeing the vegetables in the garden, then appear in salads, tarts, platters, bakes, sandwiches, cakes and more, ‘takes it to the next level’, says Pete.

The range of dishes on offer has grown too, thanks to a complete restaurant redesign. It used to run on a canteen-style service, with diners queueing up to be served a choice of three hot meal dishes from the counter. It was always excellent, but as Amanda says, they were more limited with what dishes could happily remain ‘on the counter’ without drying out under the heat lamps.

The new-look restaurant has switched to a table service design, with a new layout and seating, and food made to order. There’s much more room too as the counters have been taken away. It feels like a more relaxed and comfortable place to dine - while still enjoying those classic Rosemoor garden views.

Great British Life: Ther refurbished restaurant at RHS Garden Rosemoor. Photo: RHS/Guy HarropTher refurbished restaurant at RHS Garden Rosemoor. Photo: RHS/Guy Harrop

Menus change more frequently too, with Amanda constantly dreaming up new ideas and finding ways to incorporate the garden produce.

So, a surplus of spinach might go in to a garden herb pesto or a basket of quinces into a quince and almond cake. At other times Amanda will make preserves and also freeze produce.

She’ll look recipes up, or simply ‘have a lightbulb moment when driving in the car, or shopping’.

Pete says that although this is an RHS garden he’s not told what he has to grow, although he will try new varieties (African horned melon anyone?) and, in common with other RHS gardens, they do undertake trials of certain plants each year. For 2023 it was chillis, late spinach and climbing French beans, so Amanda has been thinking for a while about how she can incorporate those items into the menus. Chilli jam is already on the go – and there are at least 20 varieties to choose from.

The vegetable gardens at Rosemoor are beautiful, and any gardener will admit they look with envy at both the bounteous and perfect-looking vegetables and fruit growing in the main veg garden or among the flowers and herbs in the Potager garden.

But to have a garden looking this good takes meticulous planning. Each week the jobs ahead are discussed and allocated, and a note is made of what produce is coming through. ‘I’ll then stick my head through the door and tell Amanda,’ says Pete.

Great British Life: Edibles manager Pete Adams gathers kale for the kitchen. Photo: RHS/Guy HarropEdibles manager Pete Adams gathers kale for the kitchen. Photo: RHS/Guy Harrop

The freshness is hard to beat. Chard for example doesn’t transport well, but Pete can deliver it to the restaurant within half an hour of it being picked. Most veg and fruit varieties are bred for shelf life, often at the cost of flavour – not so when you have your own garden supply to dip into.

And it means that seasonality is supreme. As Pete says: ‘I’d graze my way through the tomatoes at this time of year, picking at the end of the day, when they’ve been basking in the sun; you can’t help yourself!’

Other ingredients are also sourced as close to home as possible, so for example, Amanda uses Taw Valley Microgreens at Umberleigh, the eggs come from Buckland Brewer and milk from Webbery Moos – and it’s supplied in reusable glass bottles.

All the kitchen food waste is composted. The garden team has an in vessel composter, which deals with everything. It’s all about being as sustainable and green as possible, they say.

Absolutely nothing is wasted, says Pete. Once the restaurant has had its supply, there’s an honesty table for visitors to pick up veg, and then anything else that’s left? Well, that goes to the staff.

'Nothing goes to waste!’ Pete reassures me.

Rosemoor’s Garden Restaurant is open daily from 10am to 5,30pm and it is open to the public without garden admission.