moonentry      To the Moon and Back…Enter your garden through a fascinating Moon Gate…wind your way around the path until you find that very special hidden treasure designed and planted to enjoy in the evening darkness…a Moon Garden of white and silver plants. Below you will find a drawing of a planting scheme I put together 15 years ago. I suggest using the shape as a garden spot alone or as a parenthesis or frame for a garden space…use your imagination and create something wonderful…July, the month for Moon Children, is on the way.

The white garden, will be so dramatic in the evening moonlight...

Charged with early summer rain...the garden provides a medley of blooms. In a month known for searing heat, hues of blues and plenty of white, “cool off “through the garden crowd as they hover like a cloud of sprightly blue butterflies above bright green foliage…while drifts of sweetly fragrant white phlox guide my way through the garden on moonlit nights…tall white lilies burst onto the garden stage performing daily!

The feel of wet grass between my toes, the fragrance of the pines, the air fresh and sweet capturing the smells of childhood summer holidays, and flowers still dripping from a rain shower. Once in a blue moon…I still enjoy the dance!

Chillin’ Out…There are so many hummers fighting for a drink…I think I’ve created a dependency! I do have plenty of their desired blooms to sip from but they can empty the feeder shown here in an afternoon in addition to the flowers! In order to survive, these tiny birds need to consume more than half their weight in food everyday. From sunup to sundown, they visit hundreds of flowers feasting on nectar and insects. Not only are they efficient pollinators but they are also garden pest predators.

Hummingbirds are attracted to flower colors and shapes rather than fragrance…usually bright colors like red, purple, yellow, orange and blue…and a bell-like shape as shown by the coral honeysuckle. They might love your garden so much they become reliant on it for food so you will want to hang out feeders to supplement their diet. Choose bright red feeders that attract hummers from a distance…and I prefer glass as they are easier to clean. Fill with only SUGAR WATER [1 1/2 part sugar to 4 parts water] Boil water and dissolve sugar, let cool and fill feeders. DO NOT USE HONEY OR FOOD COLORING OR PRE-MADE MIXTURES.

Meandering…Growing up, I was fortunate to be able to spend summers living on my grandparents farm in North Carolina. When chores were done, I loved to wander through the yard, smelling the flowers, hiding behind the lilac and honeysuckle…hoping that the hummingbird would be still JUST long enough for me to sprinkle salt on its tail. Oh, sure…but grandmother said so!! I watched dainty butterflies flit from verbena to lantana and then on to cosmos, petunias, zinnias and hyssop. Now, as I meander through my own garden, reminiscing…I see roses and daylilies and verbena and butterfly bushes and hydrangeas and lavender…coneflowers, phlox, daisies and so much more. It takes my breath away…and the lump begins to form in my throat as I watch the hummingbird and remember my grandmother’s twinkling blue eyes…

A CHEF’s LIFE…Speaking of North Carolina, I really enjoy watching Vivian Howard on PBS. Her show does focus on  her restaurant, Chef & The Farmer, in Lenoir County NC….however, she visits old friends and distant family to gather items for her ever-changing menu.  She left the food scene in NY CITY and has found an audience of friends, relatives and good-food seekers that love to  frequent her restaurant, trying out her new dishes based on local produce, farm-raised animals, seafood and fruits. Last week she made strawberry jam from fruit picked on the neighbor’s farm and another week put grits, in a very sophisticated treatment, on the menu after watching them being ground at a local mill. You’ll love her!!

Perched on a hillside in Provence…where the breeze is scented with lavender and wild herbs, sits La Bastide de Moustiers, an idyllic inn created from a 17th century farmhouse by one of France’s master chefs, Alain Ducasse. The Bastide wraps you in all the sensual pleasures of Provence…including some of its finest food. His dessert course is always sublime and the clafoutis, shown here, may be re-created with his generously shared recipe…fresh fruit is a must!

      Typically cherries are used, but I like to make it with blueberries, blackberries and/OR raspberries as well…

1. On moderate heat, warm 1 cup of milk

2. Beat 4 large eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup flour, pinch of salt, 1 stick melted butter in a bowl until pale yellow. Add 1/4 cup of hot, but not boiling, milk to the yolk mixture, whisking well to avoid cooking the eggs. Then mix in the remaining milk. Bring mixture to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking until thickened…DO NOT BOIL…just let it warm.

3. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla.

4. Butter a shallow baking dish, scatter 1 1/4 pounds of fruit  in the dish, pour in cream mixture. I choose to add chopped nuts and you may do so now, sprinkled on top.

Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, cool slightly and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar while still warmish.

I chose to simplify his recipe so it differs slightly from his preparation…EASY!

BEACH PLUM…Prunus maritima, in bloom followed by dark red to purple fruits. This latest addition to my garden is native to the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Virginia. She tolerates salt spray so loves being at the beach and grows to over 6 feet tall, often forming colonies. The plum fruits make terrific preserves! I don’t live at the beach but am just a few miles from the bay…hopefully she will like her home under less stressful growing conditions…

If you don’t have space for a big Moon Garden…you can always pot up some containers filled with white and silver plants to enjoy by the light of the moon…

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