Roses, day lilies, Black-eyed-Susans, phlox and lavender are everywhere…I’m crazy about them!

They are such everblooming and fragrant treasures…such quintessential garden elements…

roses in basket

Gathering roses to bring inside, such a treat to make little fragrant bouquets to sit on tables throughout the house…walking from room-to-room allows me to detect a deliciously differing scent from each little bundle of vintage blossoms. While strolling the garden, I always carry my sturdy handmade English trug for holding flowers and my clippings are done with the FELCOs as shown…and leather rose gloves!

The huge butterfly bushes that anchor my gardens provide an ongoing source of nectar for them as well as a glimpse of one of my favorite visitors…butterflies!  They lazily float from bloom to bloom, hovering long enough to sip and then move on for another taste. We often use the phrase…”flit about like a butterfly…” and I know people who do this everyday. I used to think how difficult it must be to jump from task to task while keeping a train of thought…but the older I get, the more I realize how simple it is…

Happiness isn’t being cheerful all the time: it’s being interested in things…finding out more about something, learning how to appreciate something better,  incorporating SOMETHING NEW that fits with what you already have.

            EVERY FLOWER IS A SOUL BLOSSOMING IN NATURE…

Walking through parts of my garden, the rhythm changes just as the butterflies flit: some areas feel somewhat controlled, while in others the plant groupings wave, flow and flutter! This cottage-style garden is a wonderful habitat…these old-fashioned flowers are pollen and nectar rich which attract birds, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and many beneficial insects…along with a few pesky critters as well! But there is enough to go around for all…Everyday I discover a new visitor, even if it is a tomato horn worm on my holly of all places…I just pick it off and put it on the bird screen feeder! The hummers empty the feeders so fast I have to fill them with clear sugar-water everyday. I just keep a container of my homemade “nectar”in the fridge so I don’t have to boil water and make the syrup as often as they drain the window feeder.

WITH SUMMER, outdoor entertaining is often in full swing…the question is always what to serve guests. Food and wine go together and there are some pairings that naturally occur when planning, such as a crisp Pinot Grigio with homemade pizza or fresh pasta…drinks affect taste, AND, as a rule of thumb, lighter dishes require lighter wines…grilled fish with a Sauterne or Chardonnay and the rest is down to simple basics. HOWEVER, before you begin any meal, try toasting a perfect summer’s day with a glass of esteemed fizz…champagne…or one of my year round frugal favorites: Prosecco…ideally served with a bit of salty bruschetta, roasted almonds, olives and such…or as all of you know, my lovely favorite summertime aperitif: La Vieille Ferme Rose from Provence…

sugar            SIMPLE PLEASURES…I love playing around with scented and flavored sugars…any type of sugar, other than coconut, will easily absorb all manner of fragrance and taste. Rose, lemon, lavender and vanilla…all easy to do. As I rarely use sugar except for baking…I prefer Stevia in tea…I typically prefer and enjoy making different sugars as gifts. Of course for me, part of the fun is finding a great container to hold the sugar. I search for lovely crystal [ or not] jars or bottles not only to show off the sugar but I believe glass is a better medium for storage. When baking I typically use vanilla sugar to give more flavor to the batter mixture, especially poundcake…

For rose sugar I use my dried organic rose petals mixed into white organic sugar.

For lavender flavor I just mix dried buds into the sugar. For vanilla, a real bean in the jar is all you need…and it lasts for years.

For zesty lemon I use dried lemon verbena or sometimes I make Meyer lemon sugar: Squeeze a whole lemon over about a cup of very fine sugar in a bowl…stir till evenly moist. Scatter on a baking sheet, cover with cheesecloth or a dishtowel and place somewhere warm overnight to dry out. Peel/grate some of zest from lemon rind, add to sugar and store the mixture in an airtight jar. [Keep the rind zest mixed into the sugar…]

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So by now, you all know how much I LOVE lavender…the planting and  growing, the garden filled with blooms abuzz, the harvesting…and, the exquisite fragrance. AND, you also know from previous posts how I use lavender to clean, to bake, to flavor lemonade…in sachets as a moth preventative and drawer scent.

There are so many uses for lavender in its various forms…but one I really enjoy at least twice a week…soaking my feet in warm water along with some crushed lavender stems and a few drops of lavender essential oil.  Another good practice for me…keeping a small pillow on my bed, filled with lavender buds…this aids in relaxation and usually helps me to drift off to sleep.

Speaking of Sleep…a good night’s sleep is often hard to find…a new study has found that BRIGHT lamps ‘on’ in the evening suppresses the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. SO, try dimming the lights or use lower watt bulbs or turn just one lamp on in the room if watching television…

READ THIS IN A EUROPEAN MAGAZINE…to clean a bottle or jar having been used to store oil or a greasy liquid, fill it with some WARM coffee grounds, add warm water. Let sit for a while, then shake well…pour this mixture on shrubs or compost pile instead of in trash…reuse, recycle!

GARDEN TIP: Remember to take photos of your garden as the season progresses…AND, Refill watering cans after use so they are always ready the next time a container plant seems a bit ‘wilty’…

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<<<<<Love yours always…and think about how your home smells when you walk in the door…

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