Come into my garden……lose yourself in fragrance and ever-changing beauty.

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        The air is still, the sky blue and cloud-free…a tranquil morning. Strolling through the garden, I occasionally stop to admire the beauty of an individual bloom… the artistry and charm of a voluptuous hydrangea blossom, the gentle perfume of a fully opened peony, an old-fashioned rose, the intricate structure of love-in-a-mist, foxglove and columbine, the crinkly petals of a poppy, the ruffles of calendula…

FullSizeRender(65)Bienvenue a’ mon La Maison et le Jardin…A haven of calm and color…on the old pine bench, weathered and chipped, I sit for a moment in the warm sunshine…gazing over the garden that is now starting on year 10 of creation and growth! I’ve started and tended gardens for many years and then sadly have had to leave them to move on. HERE, so much has happened in the past 10 years and my garden has always been there…waiting for my care, giving me blooms to cheer and fragrance to enjoy and remind. There are times when I just stand amidst the foliage and fragrance, not moving, amazed at my vision come to life. AND, sometimes I just on the back porch watching the garden and all that happens…near dark, I hear the cooing of doves, the hoot of a solitary owl on the lookout and several deer creeping into the clearing at the edge of the woods where I’ve put out corn and vegetable scraps for their dinner. Always changing, always offering solace and peace and joy. I give thanks for all that is beautiful and special…

Set deep within the woods, barely visible from the road in summer, is the small white cottage style home I moved into in 2005 with my late husband, Carl, leaving Texas to return to Virginia. Weeks were spent pulling out carpet and installing wide pine plank flooring and painting every wall and ceiling…once that was done…I started outside. In the past four years, since Carl’s passing, I have added and changed and transformed my little home that seems to now be one more of memories and reflection of my life…here in solitude with Holly, my Border Collie.lemon tree

Scent has the power to evoke vivid, intensely personal memories…have we not all been transported to some far flung forgotten place or time or special moment by the hint of a scent on the breeze?

 

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A not so great fragrant memory…but still delicious! To go crabbing was a great kid activity many years ago, long before i Pads, x-Box, i Phones and such. Low tide, salt water marshy area, crab pots…I remember catching crabs on a line with chicken necks tied to it and then dangled off the pier…we caught what we could possibly eat and tossed them in a bucket of sea water to carry home. Crabs…so many ways to prepare and enjoy. Aside from steamed crabs with all the delicious accoutrements, there’s my all time favorites crab cakes, crab salad, crab risotto, and one of my new finds…Crab Pate’FullSizeRender(60)

For this dish I like to use nice lump crab meat:

Whiz/beat about 1/2 stick soft butter with 2 Tblsp lemon juice, 1 tsp finely chopped shallots, and a sprinkle of sea salt until pale and fluffy. Work in 8 oz of cream cheese. Then, add about a pound of crab meat and mix well. If you like nuts, try some…I added some finely chopped cashews and found the texture and taste to be just wonderful. Adjust salt and pepper as needed and then spoon mixture into a serving dish. I top with chopped chives. Cover and chill for several hours. Serve with toasted pita pieces and cornichcons. You can adjust amounts easily to make more…you’ll need it!

FullSizeRender(56)Some enchanted evening…or just a nice spot for relaxing! Using old doors to screen an area for comfort and cozy is smart…you are recycling material as well as adding charm to your garden sitting spot.

 

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For a slightly more sophisticated garden, use plants, pergolas and iconic supports to screen a spot for sitting.

With little openings, these enclosed areas give tantalizing glimpses of other parts of the garden. Spending time outside in the garden is an antidote to the stresses of life…

 

 

 

 

FullSizeRender(27)Early blueberries begin to ripen…I’ve been making this simple treat for friends…my brother, Mike, gets a happy tummy when I take him a dish of this crisp. So simple and quick to make.

 

Berry Crisp...use blueberries, blackberries or raspberries…it’s even great using peaches , too. I use organic ingredients, especially the fruit.

You will need about 4 cups of berries, sprinkle with lemon juice and fill a nice baking dish with the berries.

Make the topping…Combine 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, then…cut in one stick of cold butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle this over the fruit. Bake at 375 dg for almost an hour, sometimes if fruit is very juicy it might take a bit longer. Just be patient and watch carefully. When it has bubbled and browned, remove from oven. Serve warm with a scoop of organic vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.  FullSizeRender(62)

 

In my garden are various fruiting plants…figs, blackberries, Alpine strawberries and blueberries…it is such a joy to simply walk out into the garden, pick the seasonal fruit and then eat it fresh, in the moment, or save and prepare a special recipe for the evening meal. Think about including fruit bearing plants in your garden…my fruit plants are integrated into the actual perennial garden areas…What a joy to be clipping roses for a bouquet only to see some blueberries ripened and ready to pick.

Sometimes I plant according to a design I have imagined and then sometimes it’s…”I love this plant, have to have it, now where can I put it in my garden!” So I buy the plant, take it home and wander about the garden feeling pulled in several directions, I usually settle on the best spot according to my growing and plant experience and put the “must-have” in the ground and thrill when it thrives, knowing all along it would!! Don’t you??

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Virtual visual…Being a rather visual and tactile person, I enjoy the touch and feel of real books and magazines, and want to keep them all. And I usually do! Finding some articles and photos to be inspiring or just things I want to remember and share I find that once I tuck the periodical into a bookcase it is difficult to find the special piece or photo again?? So I like to make a “pinboard” to display some of my favorite pictures and such before they go into my memory books. It is an ever changing display of  visual inspiration for me!! A gilt frame as shown can be a personal, practical and quite stylish way to display memorabilia and here I have notes, photos, cards, tickets, ribbons and other bits & pieces gathered in collage form.

 

 

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SPROUTS…While visiting Jeanine in Texas I fell in love with her climbing/sprawling nasturtium plants in pots around her pool…I picked several seeds, brought them home, dried them and planted them in with tomatoes and peppers. They quickly sprouted and will be blooming soon…

 

 

Purity in Bloom…The exquisite fragrance of an old-fashioned gardenia bloom is seldom if ever forgotten. I remember a wrist corsage and a white dress, silver heels and a scent that was enthralling…and the music, from  ‘Moon River’ to ‘Shout’!!

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Simple Delights of Spring…finally here!

At this time of year the whole countryside seems to be bursting with color, fragrance and promise…promise in the knowledge that once again we are inspired by nature and the renewal of life…that is the gift of spring. It is easy to spend an entire day wandering from spot to spot, down the path and into the main garden finding a blissful hideaway to sit and enjoy…for just a few moments. Something has drawn my attention and like the butterfly flitting among the blooms, I must grab my gloves and move ahead.IMG_2640

Create a relaxing, charming place to sit, gather my thoughts, refocus and at my age, rest my back for just a moment. Bending and stooping over is not difficult, just tiring…in fact, I can still bend over, knees straight, and put my palms flat on the ground!! Love the chimney cap storage and forget-me-nots along the path.

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Growing along the fence…Coral Honeysuckle blooms attract the hummingbirds arriving home after spending the winter in Florida and points further south and west!

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Fragrant viburnum entices the beneficial insects awakening from their winter naps...

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On May 1st or May Day, bouquets of Muguet, or Lily of the Valley, are sold all over France in celebration of a day to be happy and free to have fun and do what pleases you! What a great idea…So today, I choose to write about what pleases me and then go out to play in my garden!!

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Look out for bumblebees…On warm spring days, you often spot the winged foragers busily buzzing about the early blooms searching for pollen and nectar. Bee-friendly gardening practices are critical! No harsh synthetic chemical sprays, PLEASE. These little insects are excellent, essential pollinators…so “make a beeline” to your organic products only.  Ever wonder where that phrase came from?? Country lore has it that bees are so efficient and dedicated to their work that after “busily” gathering their pollen from bloom to bloom to bloom, pollinating all the while, they would always fly in a straight line back to their hive, eager to deliver their gathered nectar. VOILA!

With the past few days of constant overcast, mist and rain, I make the most of the April showers by donning my “bee” wellies and enjoying a walk down the lane with Holly, splashing through all the puddles!! Just waiting for all the May flowers the rain will bring.

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A balance of rustic and refined…a cedar trellis laden with climbing rose, New Dawn and clematis jackmani, perfume a corner by the chicken house…a favorite combination. Packed with plants and design ideas, my garden proves that lack of space in direct sunlight need never limit the imagination! Sticks and sturdy twigs supports for sweet peas or vines…A stone urn FullSizeRender(34)used for a water feature offer contrasting textures and shapes!                                                    clematis & rose

 

 

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Today is the Best Day...as a child, I remember many spring mornings spent sitting with my grandmother on the front porch swing watching the hummingbirds and butterflies! Truly not a care in the world, just that wonderful moment…until Grandmother said…”Time to gather the eggs, check on the cows and do the milking, work the garden a bit, hang out some clothes on the line and maybe later, walk down the path to the berry patch to see if the blooms have turned yet.” After all that…I would look up to her and say…TODAY IS THE BEST DAY! Her blue eyes twinkling, she would smile and say…”Yes, it is a great day!”

Thinking back, I often ask myself what we had done that day and the many others like it…well, nothing really special or outstanding in the world’s scheme of things to be done…it was just a simple day spent together, one where we talked, went walking, chased the rooster out of the chicken pen, made some butter and cream, baked biscuits, made a coconut cake and then sat on the squeaky porch swing, together!

We should live thinking everyday is a good day…what you do today is important as you are exchanging a day of your life for it…

A Few Random Thoughts…you have control over your garden, it never looks the same year after year…change is constant! Your starting point when planning & planting your garden is always the spirit of the place…and don’t look for perfection! We’re not perfect, why should our plants be?

Saturday, May 21st is “National Porching Day” and a full moon is in the forecast!enjoy an evening spent outside watching the moon and stars.

La Vie quotidienne..everyday life…When you come home, step through the front door…and love what you see…then you are truly HOME!

        From Holly and me…Happy Spring! BC