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Who needs flowers? Five of the fanciest indoor leaves at the Jungle...

07 June 2018 - Posted by Rachel Bannon, in Norfolk, Cafe Jungle, Nursery, NewsLetter, Suffolk


We're all about the leaves right now, and there's no need for flowers when they look this good.

Although it would be nice to think these leaves evolved to simply become more and more beautiful, they didn't. Its all about survival. Variegated leaves, and leaves with colour are actually camouflaging themselves. Although surprising, for their particular habitat this far outweighs the disadvantage of reduced photosynthesis. Against the sun-dappled floor of a forest or woodland, animals without colour vision, including insects and herbivores are not able to spot patterned or mottled leaves. The outline of leaves will be disrupted, making them much more difficult to find.

Thank goodness for nature, hey? Here's some of our favourites....


Aeschynanthus marmoratus

(Zebra Basket Vine)

Aeschynanthus marmoratus  Zebra Basket Vine

The Aeschynanthus marmoratus is an epiphyte, which means it uses other plants and trees to grow and spread, extracting moisture and nutrients from the air and rain. The leathery, pointed oval leaves grow in opposite pairs on the stems. The upper leaf surfaces are light green and speckled with swirls of lights green and the undersides are much lighter with deep burgundy spots. In the wild, in Thailand and Malaysia, some of the branch tips bear a cluster of tubular flowers that are pollinated by hummingbirds.

  • A perfect hanging houseplant

  • Likes bright, indirect light

  • Can tolerate some direct sunlight

  • Likes high humidity

  • Water regularly but do not allow the plant to sit in water


Alocasia amazonica (Alocasia polly)

(Elephant's Ear)

Alocasia polly elephants ear

Alocasia polly and Alocasia amazonica are both largely the same, except the ‘Polly’ variety stays a bit smaller. The leaves are completely unique and look particularly striking against a white, minimalist backdrop adding a magnificent jungle touch to a space, all on its own.

Although the name suggests otherwise, neither of these Alocasia varieties naturally originate from the Amazon rainforest. They were artificially created, though their ‘ancestors’ are naturally found in rainforests in Asia, which gives us a helpful guide to caring for this plant at home.

  • Bright but indirect sunlight

  • Well draining soil

  • Keep warm minimum of 16C / 60F (above 70 in summer will promote faster growth)

  • These plants don’t mind a slightly cramped environment - it’s usually not necessary to re-pot every year

  • Use a potting soil and add some perlite to ensure proper drainage


Maranta leuconeura erythrophylla

(Maranta fascinator, Prayer plant, herringbone plant, Tricolor)

Maranta leuconeura erythrophylla Maranta fascinator, Prayer plant, herringbone plant, Tricolor

One of the most intricately patterned leaves in nature, giving this houseplant its well earned place on the nations favourites. The Prayer Plant earned its name because of the way its leaves fold together at night, like hands closed in prayer, revealing beautiful deep-purple under-sides. The leaves unfold again in the morning light, sometimes making a rustling sound.

Prayer plants rarely bloom indoors, but sometimes grow tiny, white tubular flowers on long stems. We're not here to talk about flowers though, it's the magnificent leaves that are the real attraction.

  • Direct sun can dun the colour of the leaves and be fatal

  • Keep warm – minimum 16 degrees C

  • The love humidity, brown tips are a sign of not enough

  • Don't re-pot too often

  • Your plant will benefit from occasional pruning in autumn, which helps to give it a nice shape and promote new growth.


Diffenbachia

(Dumb Cane, Leopard Lily)

Diffenbachia  Dumb Cane, Leopard Lily

Dieffenbachias have the most beautiful mix of green, white, and yellow foliage. It's also quite versatile and will take some neglect and poor treatment. Though, not as hardy as the mother-in-law's tongue, but certainly not as difficult as the Alocasia or Calathea. The last big plus point is that it's also fantastic at regenerating.

The truth is though, that Dumb Canes are actually poisonous. If ingested it can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, swelling the tongue, and paralysing the vocal cords, silencing the victim – hence the name. So, avoid coming into contact with the sap and if you do, wash it off before you accidentally rub your eye, or somewhere equally unfortunate!

If you can see past this weakness, you're in for a real treat.

  • Overwatering is a common problem with many houseplants and the dieffenbachia houseplant is no exception.

  • Most varieties do best in a filtered light situation, where bright to moderate light shines through a sheer curtain or other filtering window cover.

  • Rotate the dieffenbachia houseplant regularly to provide adequate light to all sides of the plant

  • Most cultivars do fine with a low light environment; however, growth is slower, but the plant will remain healthy and attractive.

  • Browning bottom leaves on the Dieffenbachia is normal for the plant; Snip them off to keep the plant tidy.

Sansevieria trifasciata

(mother-in-law's tongue)

Sansevieria trifasciata  mother-in-law's tongue

Sanseviera are stemless, erect, rhizomatous, succulent perennials with evergreen, ovate or strap-shaped, leathery leaves often attractively marbled. While you’re enjoying this fantastic decorative plant, it’s working very hard. Mother-in-law’s tongue does everything it can to sort out the humidity in your home, so that your skin, eyes and airways can also enjoy the plant. It converts poisonous substances into oxygen. And it’s also incredibly strong and easy to care for.

It's simply perfect as a starter plant for beginners too, as it doesn't require much maintenance and grows quite quickly.

  • Grow under glass in bright, filtered light, avoiding full summer sun.

  • If you’d like the plant to be a bit darker, place it further from the window; Or, lighter in colour? Place it closer.

  • Do not water too frequently

  • The best way to look after this plant is to ignore it most of the time. It thrives on neglect.


Visit the Cafes at both Urban Jungle Norfolk and Suffolk to see our full range of houseplants. Our team of experts will happily guide you in choosing the most appropriate for you home, what ever the surroundings. Contact us to find out more.


 
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Tepache

06 June 2018 - Posted by Joe Enhari, in NewsLetter, Suffolk, Cafe Jungle

Tepache

Here at Urban Jungle, we are committed to delivering a great product, be it a plant, lunch, a beverage or two or a combination of all three. We're also incredibly conscious of waste, pioneering a ‘War on Plastic Pots’ in the Nursery and committing to good practice in any way we can. Tepache is a way for the Café to deliver on both fronts, providing a delicious and gut-healthy beverage, whilst using every piece of the raw product.

Pineapple Tepache

Tepache is a wonderful example of the age-old process of fermentation. Pre-Colombian indigenous Mexicans would have been enjoying this, albeit in a higher concentration of alcohol, hundreds of years ago. It’s comforting to think that we can uphold these ancient traditions in a practical and delicious way. I am currently plucking up the courage to ask our owner Liz if I can harvest some sap from the huge agaves we have, and see about some Pulque, but that’s a different story.

Tepache (Tay-paw-chay) starts life as a pineapple. The inner fruity goodness has been set aside for Chef Chloe and is destined for a special project; more on that another time. The rest I have chopped up a bit and put in a clip-top jar. The top will be used in an attempt to grow more…

Pineapple Tepache

I think it’s always nice to pop in little extras to our pickles and ferments. Things that marry together in ‘conventional cooking’, will often blend and combine in incredibly interesting ways when slowly fermenting together. In this case, ginger and cinnamon will add depth and a gentle spice to the finished brew.

Ginger and Cinamon

Now, all that's left is to make up a sweetened water to cover the pineapple, ginger and cinnamon. If you can use a raw cane sugar then do. In Mexico you would of course use piloncillo sugar cones; for a pinch used here, granulated will do just fine. Use a 1 cup measurement per 2 litres of water. Use a little hot water first to dissolve the sugars. Top up your jar and seal. ¡ahí está!

If you can bear to take your eyes off the beauty that will be your jar of almost Tepache, leave it for 4-7 days. The longer you leave it, the more of the sugar will be fermented and the fizzier, but tarter, it will be. Then bottle and enjoy over ice with sparkling water, or even with a nice cerveza. I’ve never had any long enough to test a use by date.

Tepache

Visit the Suffolk Cafe to find out more about our ferments and pickles, we're always experimenting and have some wonderful things on the shelf for you to try!


 
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From the Edible Jungle to Cafe Jungle this Spring - Salmon Carpaccio

26 March 2018 - Posted by Niamh Mullally & Joe Enhari, in Propagation, NewsLetter, Suffolk, Cafe Jungle

Propagation Manager Niamh Mullally and Cafe Manager Joe Enhari have been working tirelessly on new dishes for the menu, utilising all of the fresh, spring produce from the Edible Jungle. This month's showstopper is Salmon Carpaccio with home-grown Castlefranco, and pickled blood orange and fennel. Follow this beautiful new dish on its journey from the Edible Jungle to your plate...

salmon carpaccio cafe jungle

Salmon Carpaccio with pickled blood orange and fennel, and Castlefranco all homegrown in the Edible Jungle


Niamh and propagation team edible jungle

Niamh and the propagation team at the Edible Jungle

From The Edible Jungle...

Propagation Manager, Niamh Mullally explains...

"Castlefranco radicchio is an invaluable winter crop with an interesting past. It dates back to the 18th century and got its nick name of 'Orchid lettuce' after a noble woman from Castelfranco, Northern Italy, wore a mature, freshly-harvested-head on her evening gown. A cross between a Trevino radicchio and an endive, it was so beautiful,the locals thought it was an exotic flower.

The flavour is subsequently milder than other winter radicchios. It’s a favourite of mine and incredibly easy to grow. The mature heads featured in new Cafe dish were sown in seed trays in August and transplanted in October. It’s not fussy, happy in semi-shade or full sun which is helpful, as these were used as under-planting between taller crops such as kale and chard in the Edible Jungle.

Castlefranco raddicio

Castlefranco raddiccio

A handy tip is to wait for the seedlings to take on a tinge of pink to the leaves, as this means they are starting to develop the more bitter taste of radicchio which is repellent to slugs.

Fennel

Fennel

The fennel being pickled by Cafe Manager Joe was grown inside the ‘Edible Jungle’ polytunnel over the winter months. Autumn sown, bulking fennel is my preference for this crop as it has a tendency to bolt in the summer months. Fennel is pretty straightforward to grow as long as you handle the transplanting with care - they hate root disturbance. Position in full sun and keep weed free."

Pea shoots

Pea shoots

Niamh has grown the above pea shoots inside the polytunnel, in a container without light. This method produces long tender pale stems that resemble bean sprouts but actually have a delicious strong pea flavour. A real delicacy and a favourite with every Chef.

To Cafe Jungle...

Joe Enhari Cafe Manager

Cafe Manager Joe with his new dish...

Café Manager Joe talks us through his dish...

"I'm a big advocate of using antiquated 'cooking' methods, such as pickling, curing and fermenting. The health benefits of natural fermentation have been rigorously explored in recent years. As a bonus it also reduces food waste, and allows us to eat 'out of season' in a responsible fashion.

My inspiration for the dish happened all at once when Niamh arrived, beaming, with the first crop of our produce. As luck would have it blood oranges are in season too. Fennel and citrus is like Rock and Roll. Salmon came to mind instantly. It's a fish with a bad rep' of late, the safe bet. Well, when cured with sumac and Suffolk sea salt it becomes a wonderfully textured, aromatic piece of fish. The home made buttermilk adds some acidity and helps with the rich salmon flavour. Finally the pea shoots and micro mustard bring tiny pops of fresh flavour, helping to balance the bold radicchio.

Joe Enhari Cafe Jungle menu 

The salmon sits on the plate with a sense of uniformity and purpose. The fennel and oranges have been fermenting for 12 days in a salt-brine, offering a wonderful umami tang to the crisp veggie. I tend to use the younger, brighter leaves of the Castlefranco and casually mingle them with the fennel, letting them fall onto the plate. The home made buttermilk and herbs complete the dish and give a pleasant aestheticism. It's rustic yet some-what refined and i'm enamoured with the complexity of colour and flavour.

salmon carpaccio cafe jungle

For me, this dish epitomises everything Niamh and I are trying to achieve for Café Jungle. Fresh, organically-grown produce, full of flavour and provenance, with zero food miles. The 'field-to-fork' collaboration sits proudly on the menu as a sign of things to come, a glimmer of spring and the bountiful harvests we'll be enjoying in the months ahead."

Notes on prep

  • Salmon - 2 day cure in Suffolk sea salt and summac
  • Fennel and orange, sliced thin, 12 days in a 4% brine
  • Radicchio, hand washed and dried, carefully selected.
  • Home made buttermilk with lemon and extra virgin olive oil

Cafe Jungle Suffolk is open for brunch from 10am everyday, serving lunches, light bites and cakes from Midday until 4pm. Cafe Jungle is opening every Saturday evening for dinner from 28th April. Book your table on 01502 559103. 

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Mother's Day covered, at Urban Jungle

24 February 2018 - Posted by Rachel Bannon, in NewsLetter, Norfolk, Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk

This Mother's Day, look no further than Urban Jungle for some wonderful gifts and experiences...

1. Afternoon Tea
Enjoy stacks of tasty bruschetta and beautiful cakes & sweet treats with unlimited tea and coffee for £16.50 or with a glass of Prosecco for £19.95. Afternoon teas are available after 3pm on Mother's Day in Suffolk (and every day if a gift voucher is the present you're after). Contact us to book your table 24 hours in advance, here. 

afternoon tea suffolk

2. Plants for Women's Wellbeing
Tickets are now available for a very special 'girls night' in the Suffolk Jungle on 14th June. You'll arrive to a beautiful botanical cocktail, and special gift before learning how plants can help you through key life stages and heal illnesses with Ellen-Mary. Find out more and book your place here. 

Plants for womens wellbeing mothers day


 3. Plants, pots, and more plants and pots!
The indoor and outdoor plants, pots and planters make a great selection of ready-to-go gifts that require no wrapping or extra fuss. Bring your mum for a day out and she'll be able to chose her own houseplant, plant for the garden and pot combination or pop in and pick up something ready, in time for the 11th March. Urban Jungle Suffolk also has a range of unique gifts and beautiful things for the home if a plant isn't quite what you're looking for. 

hyacinth mothers day plants

Of course, there are always gift vouchers and these are available to buy in the Nursery or Cafe, or online here.

Happy Mother's Day :)

 
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Plants for Women's Wellbeing

14 February 2018 - Posted by Ellen Mary Gardening, in NewsLetter, Norfolk, Cafe Jungle, Nursery, Propagation, Suffolk

I’m really excited to announce my Plants for Wellbeing talks coming up this year! Plants and nature has an astounding ability to heal and help us all with our health, so I have devised a series of talks called 'Grow Your Own Health' and I'm kicking off with Plants for Women’s Wellbeing, addressing common female health issues & life stages.

Yes that's right we will be talking boobs, bums and bellies along with much more! No topic is off limits ladies.

Many of the natural solutions I have experienced myself with the use of plants from my own garden. Plus, there will be a few surprises as well!

Whilst I totally use conventional medicine when needed, I know how well natural medicine can help us along the way as a complimentary approach and it's all the more satisfying when you've grown it in your own garden. So there will be a few gardening tips as well.

Expect a few giggles, a drink & a goody bag at all of my talks.

Come along to Urban Jungle Suffolk on Thursday 14th June from 6pm, have a fun night & learn how your garden plants can help you in more ways than you could imagine!

See you there!
 
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