Serves 4-6

I have two pots of geraniums in my garden that smell of old-fashioned roses – the scent is in the leaves rather than the flower. I use them to flavour custards, ice-creams and syrups. This variety is called rose attar; hardy and fast-growing, during the winter months it sits happily in my kitchen, its glorious scents lingering in the air.

Always use fruit that is ripe – it is almost not worth eating at all unless in season. Charentais melons from France are the sweetest of all and perfect just now.

For the cream

500ml/17fl oz double cream
10-12 geranium leaves
120g/4oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise

400g/13oz ripe strawberries
2 tbsp rose water
1 level tbsp icing sugar
The juice of half an orange
1 ripe melon

Place the ingredients for the cream in a saucepan over a very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then to ensure the sugar has dissolved – the cream will thicken and reduce slightly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge to chill. You can make this up to 24 hours in advance, but if you do so, make sure the container is well covered so that it does not pick up any flavours from the fridge.

When you want to prepare the dish, hull the strawberries and slice in half, place in a bowl and sprinkle over the rose water, icing sugar and orange juice. Leave to macerate in the fridge for an hour.

Just before serving, slice the melons in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice into eight and remove the skin. Arrange the fruit attractively on a plate and spoon over the cream (having removed the vanilla pods and leaves). Serve at once.