Hidden Treasures…collect an armful of wild grasses and meadow flowers and mass them in a large terra cotta urn. Display in a spot where an arrangement of this size can be enjoyed…by a doorway on the front porch, on a patio, on a LARGE farmhouse style kitchen table or butcher block. Plants such as this lovely cow parsley or white dill mixed with fennel create a wonderfully light, frothy effect. Flowers will last surprisingly well when cut, stem foliage removed and then placed in water with a dissolved aspirin.
Use a container to hold flowers and then place in decorative pots or urns…Combine several urns of different heights for an even more exciting display!
Flowers are blooming, the evenings are warm and the air is filled with fragrance…scent is such a powerful and emotional trigger…fragrant summer memories stay forever. A few of my fragrant memories always include…rows of lavender in bloom and wild French thyme in the hills of Provence, huge gardenias by the porch, honeysuckle growing along the dirt road on the way to Grandmother’s house, jasmine winding its way around the porch railings, roses blooming throughout the garden, a fresh sliced tomato with basil leaves, masses of summer phlox and Black-eyed Susan in front of the barn, warm milk fresh from the cow and still-baking biscuits in time for breakfast!
One of summer’s great pleasures…Alfresco, which is meals eaten outside, really do seem to taste better… For me, this is the perfect informal feast for friends who come to visit for a while. First, stroll and relax in the garden with a glass of wine or cocktail…help pick some blueberries OR blackberries for dessert. Then, enjoy my favorite Lemon & Herb Roasted Chicken…back in the late ’80’s, a good friend and client in California, Donald Bellisario, showed me how he made this family favorite…and I’ve been making it ever since!
Simple but delicious. Start with a large, free-range roasting chicken, add sprigs of fresh herbs, rosemary, thyme and sage pushed under the breast skin along with several pieces of fresh butter…rub some butter on the breast skin, too. Put more herbs and a whole lemon [cut in half] in the cavity. Place chicken in a deep oven-proof dish good for serving. Arrange several 1/2 lemons, a few onion quarters, plenty of halved small fresh potatoes to suit your crowd and season all with sea salt and coarse ground pepper. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the chicken and potatoes…then, pour about a half bottle of good dry white wine in the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil or lid and bake at 325 degrees for about an hour, remove foil or lid and let cook for at least 1/2 hour more ’til skin is browned. This slow roasting keeps the meat tender and moist.
Slicing the breast, there is a rich treasure of tender flesh under the inviting crunch of browned skin..oozing with lemon and herb scented juices. I urge friends to enjoy sopping the juices with plenty of warm pieces of baguette crusts while I bring out a green salad dressed in a light citrus vinaigrette. AND last, fresh picked berries topped with a dollop of creme fraiche for dessert…of course there is plenty of white wine to start and a glorious ROSE’ with the main course, and to finish…a nice Sauternes, Prosecco or Champagne with a bit of Elderflower liqueur !
Summer is wearing cool white and soft washed linens and eating supper on the back porch...enjoying a glass of wine…Oh, and watching the original of THE LONG, HOT SUMMER with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and others on my summer favorites list. As much as I enjoy being outside in the summer, I also like to relax, get out of the heat and escape from it all…Some of my all time favorites for summer escape:
A Good Year...set in Provence, the movie offers wonderful scenery, a delightful story and magical music
It’s Complicated…crazy, but I still laugh every time I watch this movie…my favorite parts are the kitchen, the food and the fabulous chef’s garden!!
Practical Magic…the kitchen, the AUNTS and “…the lime in the coconut…”
The Thomas Crown Affair…with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo…her clothes, amazing and PB…well just watch and you’ll see.
Point Break…some scenes filmed in front of my office in California and my VW Convertible stars in one brief moment!! The surfing is fun, too!
Dirty Dancing…never tire of watching Patrick Swazye dance with “Baby” and the music of my time!!
The Godfather…one of the best films ever made and I loved the unforgettable opening scene in the tomato garden!
Die Hard With A Vengeance…summer in New York heat, but love the whole series of Die Hard movies…I remember Bruce Willis when he starred with Cybill Shepherd in the Moonlighting TV series!
Independence Day…celebrate 4th of July with this epic adventure film, wasn’t an all time great film but loved the concept!! AND, Bill Pullman’s patriotic speech. Wacky and fun!
Steel Magnolias…for a good cry when needed! I’m on my 15th viewing and still can’t wait to hear some of the all-time great lines!
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood…classic Southern tale of lifelong friends from youth to adult…love the senior Ya-Yas!
American Graffiti…I know where I was in “62…do you?
The A-TEAM…the delicious Bradley Cooper loves it when a plan comes together! Ok, ok so my taste does run to quite a diverse list…I loved him on the old series…ALIAS where he and Jennifer Garner got started.
AND…any of the Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig 007 JAMES BOND Movies…there are more but this gives you a starting place to choose one you may not have seen yet…oh, forgot…The Transporter! YUM…
Butterfly Bush…one of the great joys of summer as much of my daily life happens outside…except for movie time. Gardening, lazy suppers on the back porch, and walks with Holly, my Border Collie companion. Sometimes it’s enough to just sit on the porch listening to the sounds of tree frogs and owls and the occasional coyote…while darkness brings out the fireflies!
A few things to remember…
When it’s hot and dry, remove the collecting bag from mower and allow grass clippings to act as moisture-retaining mulch. On my organic program, this material breaks down, feeds the soil and DOES NOT create thatch!
Water the garden, when needed, EARLY in the morning or late in the day just before dusk, to allow more water retention…DO NOT water during the heat of the day!
Trim strawberry foliage now, add compost, water well and mulch with pine straw!
Prune shrubs that have flowered in late spring…that bloom on new growth!
A Haven for Herbs…standing outside on the porch in the warm sunshine, I gaze around the garden I have created from absolutely nothing…Along with many perennials and old roses and blooming shrubs…Mediterranean herbs thrive in the areas of sketchy sun as the trees have grown taller and fuller! There are at least 18-20 lavender plants of several varieties, large rosemary bushes, fennel for butterflies, French thyme, lemon thyme and silver thyme all around the stepping stones and as edging along the garden path…and several types of sage. My herbs add so much to the fragrance in garden and are so needed for my cooking.
Many of my early posts have quite a few suggestions on planting and garden care for the summer…take time to go back and read a few.