Lifestyle, Gardenstyle…Romancestyle!

The magic and the romance of HOME!bench

In an era of faster is better and technology rules…it seems more important than ever to maintain simple pleasures and romance in our homes, gardens and lives.

That romantic look…feel of romance…romance in the air…the Romantic look is about what affects you or resonates with you, not a current trend…A home where you feel warmth, feel comfort, and where you can enjoy being with friends or just being alone. A home to sink into, relax and enjoy just being!

Create a romantic look or feel…with an abundance of fresh flower bouquets around the home…scented candles…collections-things that have meaning and give you a memory reminder every time you see them…a wood fire in the fireplace…French doors that open unto a lush garden patio or porch filled with pots of fragrant blooms…open windows with breezy curtains grazing wide plank floors…the sparkle of crystal and silver pieces…huge stacks of books everywhere…tables topped with black & white family photographs framed in silver…ceiling fans set on slow…faded florals…a window seat with a fluffy down cushion…old quilts, stacked or hanging on the wall…a huge clawfoot tub to settle into for a soak in front of a window to the garden…enchanting and appealing to all the senses.

Romance is in the air…the “nature of romance…a garden filled with old roses, herbs and abundant perennials…lilacs, hydrangeas and peonies…an arbor holding a canopy of roses and clematis…a white picket fence fronted by heavenly blue hydrangeas…lemon trees thriving in huge terracotta pots…a front porch filled with comfortable furniture and a swing, of course…sunrise, sunset, moonlight, and spring rains!

A typical southern front porch…but I think it needs some colorful pillows and rocker cushions for a more comfy look and romantic feel…What would you like to add?

Great front porch, complete with swing and rocking chairs.

adirondack swing on a porch .....     ....simple and sweet

A bit more casual or rustic porch swing, still needs a nice fluffy cushion and pillows…

A bit country…but isn’t that what old porch swings come from?

Steer clear of the banal…head toward vintage, the novel…allow flamboyant nature to add the final touches…

LUNCH ON THE PORCH…Relax amid glorious color and fragrance, holding a citron presse’…waiting for a fresh from the oven goat cheese tart, asparagus, and salad greens…just picked strawberries and cream with lavender shortbread…enjoy the spirit and romance of the good life…and a charm that never wanes.

Get Ready, gardentime to get started…trimming, cleaning up, planting onion & potato sets…starting a new compost pile…ordering some more roses from Antique Rose Emporium…mainly to grow in pots….adding some solar lights along the path…and so much more!

Till next time…

Shhsssush! Don’t Say It, but just maybe…spring is coming!

Dainty, golden Tete-t-Tete  narcissus/daffodils are pushing through a blanket of leaf mulch and compost…and the crocus, too!

Tiny signs that spring has not forgotten to make a stop on its way around the world! Once again…the rediscovery of the awakening garden, and now everything changes…

Speaking of ROSES…Well, I was dreaming! While out lecturing to clubs and various organizations about growing old roses, I am often asked which is my favorite. Among the old roses I grow and have grown in my gardens…that is an impossible question to answer for it often changes from day to day. However, there is one that has always held a spot of precious in my heart…Mme. Alfred Carriere, white, blushed with palest pink has a true heavenly old rose scent. This climbing rose has clusters of delicious blossoms which go on flowering for months. Far from ordinary…she is a vigorous Noisette rose, quite easy to grow. Close to being thorn less, her foliage is smooth and pale green and I rarely find any “spots” other than rain spots on her leaves!! A lovely rose for growing near the front door where you can enjoy her fragrance every time you go in or out the door. At night I go out into the garden to look at her blooms in the moonlight; she gleams like a lovely ghost scrambling over the cedar arch…alfred-de-carriere

Photo was “copied and pasted” here from a beautiful blog-site…My French Country Home, by Sharon Santoni Smith…because the closeup shows her beautifully!

In my garden, I plant a combination of onion chives and French thyme around her ankles…gives her some greenery during the winter…other roses often get lemon thyme instead…never get tired of two of my favorite herbs…along with lavender and rosemary, of course!  Shown in the photo is an urn full of lemon thyme                                             IMG_0849

sitting in the midst of a huge lemon verbena shrub…this sits by the back porch step into the garden. As I brush by on my way out to the yard the fragrance never fails to stop me! I will often pinch off a few sprigs of both and rub them against my cheek giving me a hint of lemon while working. When pesky mosquitoes are out during the summer I rub the lemony herbs over any bare skin to help repel the flying vermin!

FRAGRANCE…such an important part of life…many smells are comforting, especially when associated with food. For me, flowers and herbs have fragrance and food smells GOOD! The words “food” and “France” are almost synonymous. [You really didn’t think I’d fail to mention France…seriously?]

Good food is a part of ordinary life all over France…think of hearty stews and soups redolent of herbs, garlic and wine…desserts made with pears, cherries or strawberries–the produce of local orchards and gardens…just like yours! The Loire flows through the heart of France…where walled kitchen gardens or potagers grow vegetables, fruits and herbs almost year round…while vineyards produce delicate wines that complement the food of the region perfectly…and goats, their milk product providing a superb cheese. The food of Provence reflects all the color and warmth of the region…herbs and garlic, sun-ripened tomatoes, haricot beans, cassoulets, honey made by the bees that forage in the flower-scented garrigue** and lavender fields, and almonds from hillier regions, and so much more…

France is a country where meals are a very important part of the day! In Provence, families gather to enjoy relaxed meals often taking place outdoors on a shady terrace or vine-covered arbor. Rarely formal, these meals are simple and suggestive of sun-ripened flavors and fresh, healthy ingredients.  Quiche, a simple but substantial part of an easy meal…add salad greens, a baguette, some wine and viola!!

Desserts are usually just cheese but I found that fruit sorbet and clafoutis were often  delightful choices to end a long leisurely meal…sorbet

**Garrigue…refers to the low-growing vegetation on limestone hills of the Mediterranean coast…bushy and fragrant plants that grow wild there such as thyme, rosemary, lavender and juniper.


The colors of Provence…pottery in sun-shades are my favorite…an old pate’ jar, glazed pitcher and scalloped edge plates, all finds at village markets…this Provencal look concentrates a feeling of color and warmth…

Provence is always associated with certain flowers…roses, jasmine, lavender, mimosa and violets…usually grown in home gardens but in larger quantities for shipping to Grasse for perfume and soap production.

Wildflowers are everywhere, lines of lavender wind along the edges of fields and across terraced land…and huge fields of sunflowers are now a common sight, the perfect choice to bring a an instant touch of Provence to any table.

Create a “Provencal look” in your courtyard, porch or terrace…add an abundance of vivid scarlet and pink geraniums grown in pots…this cheerful flower blooms from spring to fall and one never tires of of the bright colors in the dazzling sunshine…along with another distinctively French flower, the starry white marguerite daisies, you’ll have blooms to enjoy all season!

                                        MIMOSA…typical of coastal Provence…the festival begins in APRIL!!                                                        mimosa

March means lions, lambs, and hares…it brings lively shades of yellow, pink and white to herald spring filling every day with beauty, joy and promise!     

 More again, soon…I hope you enjoy my meanderings!

An act of FAITH…spring will arrive, eventually!


SPRING FEVER…Fresh pansy blooms gathered after snow melt…and a few days of warmer temps. Always a lovely reminder of what will happen as days grow longer and sunny days return! I planted quite a few pansies last fall in containers and around rosemary in a few sheltered spots…these are remarkably hearty plants. SURPRISE, a few pretty pansy faces are poking through the snow!! With sunlight, some compost and moderate temps, these little plants will begin to bravely bloom well into the heat of summer.

IMG_0740My MEYER…lemon trees are budding and blooming and forming tiny lemons…they are obviously dazed and confused, still! The Meyers have been inside for the past six weeks residing in a very cool room that was once a garage. She and her friend sit in front of French doors taking full advantage of the morning sun. I started the bloom sprout by watering with a weak solution of a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar in a gallon of water…gave them this for each watering for 2-3 weeks and then waited. Once buds have started, I top-dressed with my good compost and am now watering with seaweed water. I will continue watering with fish and seaweed as long as lemons are blooming and forming…


Growing Asparagus…it thrives when grown organically. Start preparing your “bed” now, or as soon as soil is workable. It grows best in full sun and prefers loose and loamy soil, but can easily be grown in raised beds with lots of good organic matter. Buy one or two year old crowns for planting in late February…or, with all the snowfall so far, wait until that is gone and then be ready to plant. Dig a trench prepared with bone meal or rock phosphate and compost. Soak crowns in seaweed water overnight, fan the roots out over a small mound of soil and then cover with good organic material. FIRM the soil around the crowns. Keep bed well-watered. RESIST cutting any spears the first year, cut lightly during the second and finally…enjoy during the third year. As you harvest, cut spears just below soil level…never in mid spear! Clean/weed bed in fall and mulch with compost.


SPRING Greens…if you have kept your cold frame warm and working, you now have some fresh salad material…or you made a trip to WHOLE FOODS MARKET…well, it’s time to make a traditional spring salad, usually associated with dinners on the patio in the south of France! Just dreaming as usual…but true when you’re there!

Use a mix of fresh greens, crisp lardons/bacon, some “just cut” asparagus and top off with a perfectly cooked egg…make a nice lemon vinaigrette to dress the salad. Viola!

Since we are thinking of the warmth of Provence…and how close it is to the Italian border!!! Try this SWEET IDEA for dessert…simple to do and so delightful…affogato

Make AFFOGATO...a scoop of superb vanilla gelato in an equally nice dish, topped with a drizzle, or more, of rich, steaming espresso…as the two blend together it is just dreamy! Of course, if you can’t drink espresso at night, can’t imagine that…Try using really good hot cocoa poured over the cream…It is sooooo good!  I make my own ice cream when I want to splurge/indulge on this treat…simple and only takes an hour or so…If or when I  have a problem falling off to sleep…I use Valerian tea to promote melatonin which helps me fall asleep! ‘Course I usually “nod-off” after just a few pages while reading in bed at night! Coffee does not bother me, though! I have always known it was NOT BAD for you, and believed it had good health benefits…and once again Doctors are now saying the same!



PEARS, Bosc are still available now! Of course, I really couldn’t stop with the AFFOGATO…pears poached in wine are quite delicious and especially nice with a few bites of gorgonzola, baguette pieces, too, and…WINE!!

Simple, just choose a nice rose’ or maybe a good red and simmer pears, covered in wine, gently, till slightly tender…you could add some sugar if you need to which will thicken syrup a bit, along with vanilla beans to add more flavor. TIPS:Store pears standing up in a cool dry place but NOT IN REFRIGERATOR; a drop of wax at the end of the pear stem will help pears last longer! [I just light a candle and let some wax drip on stem, simple.] Speaking of STEMS…NEVER buy apples without stems!!

FROM MY BACK PORCH…This morning, as I sit in front of the window to the backyard, it is hard to concentrate on writing…a thick cover of snow still makes it difficult for birds to find enough food…or so I surmise! There are a number of seed pods poking above the snow but they prefer the “handouts” I provide…good sunflower hearts, mixed fruits and peanuts, thistle, suet, chunky peanut butter, and a selection of other tiny seeds is on their menu. I watch as the female finches fend off the sparrows and the bully Bluejay swoops in to snitch the peanut treats and the little wren acts as the clean-up batter! Meanwhile the squirrel hangs head down on the “SQUIRREL-PROOF” feeder shoveling in seeds! The molasses covered whole corn is out near the back woods on a wood slab and the deer tentatively step towards the waiting nourishment…with the woods covered in snow for so long, I imagine them foraging for food and just barely staying alive…so I give them CORN, and sometimes apples and past their prime salad greens! An added benefit is that they never bother plants in my garden…An hour has passed and I’m still lost in dreams and some ideas and thought! Back to my reality…



Garden Photographs…All year long I take photos of my garden…from early morning light filtering through the trees to the colors of sunset as a backdrop for blooming roses and perennials. Jeanine and I often SHARE our garden photos with one another, especially nice when a bloom or a butterfly or other wildlife produces that magical moment. A photograph can only be a shadow of the beauty that unfolds throughout a garden. Seeing what is captured in an image…that fleeting, ephemeral moment can often move me to tears.

A butterfly on its’ namesake bush…                                                                butterfly bush wbut




One of the most dramatic migrations…along with the hummingbird…is that of the monarch butterfly. Monarchs migrate as much as 2,500 miles, starting as early as the end of August; by late October, they’ve gone from virtually all of the states, gathering huge colonies in Mexico, getting ready to hibernate the winter away!! Smart cookies! Monarchs can actually fly as high as 10,000 feet at a speed of up to 10 miles an hour…all on a wingspan of about 4 inches!! It seems impossible, but this is a yearly event that stretches back to an era before recorded time…just imagine!

FROM MY BACK PORCH is a column I wrote for several years and was published in a coastal monthly magazine. It was and still is my viewpoint of life in the garden, our home and world around us…It is about how we can learn so much from working, watching, and reflecting…hopefully I can once again include that feature in my blog postings…

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished…”

March is here, in like a lion! Hopefully we have lambs in our future!

                                       ‘ Till next time, Love from Patricia and Holly…I’m the one on the left…Holly has problems with the computer mouse!

patricia                                                                                     be039d95-e0a8-4f82-b157-01c0c259fccf