Through the window of dawn the garden is a haven of inspiration, color and fragrance…A bit later, sunbeams dance across the table filling the room with welcoming cheerybook brightness.

My little home in the woods is surrounded by tall hardwood trees and swaying pines making it shady most of the day…Beneath the trees, which keep me cool and refreshed, an aromatic tisane of lavender, rosemary and thyme grows.

Alongside the butterflies, hummingbirds, dragonflies and birds, imagination takes flight over the buddleias, phlox black-eyed Susans and coneflowers…IMG_3024

Closing my eyes, I ride along with the beneficial creatures alive and thriving and surviving in my garden…soaring over the colors and world alive beneath us. A few weeks ago I decided my garden needed a new vertical element to enclose part of the perennial area.

In the photo, you can see a black metal arch, not terribly expensive or overly decorative but serviceable none the less. This also adds a bit of enclosure for this part of the garden. I’ve planted a pale pink climbing rose mixed with a lavender clematis that will find their way up and over the arch inviting even more beneficials into the garden. Now, I see the hummingbirds land there for a moment…surveying their realm before swooping down to take a sip of nectar. I so enjoy watching all this…As bees gather nectar from the roses and phlox, dragonflies dart about, occasionally landing on a stone that I set in the birdbath for just that purpose. The sun flirts with the leaves, making patterns in light and shade on the grass. Breathing deeply, the captivating fragrance released by my garden of blooms on the impetuous wind fills me with delight as I feel and just enjoy the rustling rhythms of nature.

QUOI de neuf ? [what’s new?] Friends, here and there are forever and here my girlies are taking a moment to surprise me with a July birthday…a FRENCH theme, of course.IMG_0795

And, Viola…one of the “girls” found some vintage hats in the attic and brought them out for us to wear and talk about…where they were worn, when, what they saw and such! Pourquoi pas?

4999F6E1-0FAE-40C0-9358-9D62996BB859Left, Another girlie friends group in Texas at Cynthia Chippendale’s restaurant…we drank lots of wine, ate pissalidaire [a French style pizza]  and talked for several hours about all the great times we had with our homes and gardening workshops for over 20 years.

Friendships are among the few things that ultimately keep us going in life…”No Man is an Island”…mine are ‘deep in my heart’ dear to me and I hope to enjoy them for many more years. Have you talked to a friend today?

 HomeIMG_1704My days are spent between inside and out, between sunlight and shade. Lived in rhythm with the seasons, nature, ever present, determines the nuances of colors and fragrance as the weeks go by…The hours spent during spring and summer eating outside becomes a ritual in the flowery shade of an arbor, beneath a trellis, a blooming tree, or vine covered veranda. Here, food is experienced as a way of better appreciating the wonders of nature…free of showy luxury!

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Beauty in rustic simplicity…And for those who want a bit more luxury, this charming spot is simple to create with the draped table and a few accessories. Daily life becomes a continuous celebration…look and feel and touch each new thing you find…rediscover the pleasure of making a garden spot, choosing blooms for bouquets, cooking without hurrying: taking time simply to live and enjoy.

 

 

Fruits for good health: Lemons…during the off season when my own Meyer lemons are not ready, I often buy a bag of fresh organic lemons while shopping at Whole Foods market. These lemons are untreated. Most citrus is waxed heavily or sprayed with a preservative. INSTEAD, to preserve the lemons, I put them in a bowl and cover them with fresh water…this can go in the refrigerator if you choose to…and I change the water daily. This method is used in many Mediterranean countries where lemons are grown and used extensively in cooking. For some this may seem like a chore but really…it only takes a minute or two.

Laundry fresh…for whiter whites, and a fresh clean scent, put cut lemon peels in a small mesh or muslin bag and tie securely, toss into washing machine and let stay through the entire cycle.

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Blackberries: one of my many favorite fruits…I chose to plant several thornless varieties last year. Now, the second year growth shown here is astounding…already the canes are trying to reach the top of the garden shed and are producing about a quart a day of juicy ripe fruits. EEEEK…what to do??

Blackberries are fairly easy to grow, prune and train…but many gardeners are often intimidated by berries. Given the premium price of these fruits at the market, growing your own is well worth the effort. So it always comes down to the pruning part…how to do it?? The best time for pruning blackberries is late winter, when the plants are bare and it’s easy to determine the healthy purple canes from the brown [or dead] ones. Cut away all the dead canes first and then take a look at the healthy ones where buds are just starting. Each bud on a cane will usually send out a “fruiting” shoot later in the season. Just picture the main canes forming a fountain shape from the center plant. You want a few main canes coming out of the ground that will grow along the fence line. These NEW side shoots are where blooms and berries form. The canes, which grow along the fence on a horizontal plane, should be supported to bear the weight of up to 20 pounds of fruit. Either use a fence for growing or the 2 wire method of growing. Fence

Shown here is old style ‘hogwire’ fencing, the simple way to start.

Blackberries usually are ripe and ready in early to mid July dependent upon temperatures, sunny days and rainfall. Start looking for healthy plants that might go on sale soon. Prepare to plant several bushes this fall for a good head start next spring. [Everyone knows this is best time to plant!!]

Blackberries are perfect fresh off the vine or in cobblers and other treats…I found a special recipe that combines two favorite flavors…A time to INDULGE!

Lavender Blackberry Ice Cream… Use your favorite vanilla ice cream base to start. As you prepare do the following: Combine 1 1/2 cups of whole organic milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1-2 Tblsp dried lavender, and 1 cup of slightly smashed blackberries in a saucepan. Stir constantly and when mixture begins to bubble around edges, remove from heat and let mixture cool for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl using a mesh sieve or cheesecloth. use this mixture combined with your cream base and prepare in your ice cream maker as usual. This is divine!

rustic

Another rustic spot for garden enjoyment and INDULGENCE…What a nice spot for lounging, having a meal or taking a nap. This garden ‘gazebo’combines wood beams, several old doors and windows, a stone floor and it all topped with a roof of galvanized metal panels…I imagine time spent here writing and reading…even if it does start to rain!

 

A little garden whimsy…What a great idea if you happen to have this type of fencing around your garden.  crystalsFor old wire style fencing, just adapt the way you hang the stones. You could also do this on a trellis frame and use it as a colorful and vertical accent in your garden.

 

 

 

 

No grass to cut or unannounced visitors…IMAGINE!!

From Holly and me, enjoy and INDULGE…IMG_2916castle

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2 thoughts on “Summer is the time for pure indulgence…

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