The Flowers and the Glory…

Creating their own canvas…every gardener is an artist with plant choices instead of brushes and paint…years ago I carved out the flower beds and pathways, enlarging and improving each every year, creating my own tiny seclusion.

As summer arrives, the garden is bursting with blooms…an explosion of color. Hydrangeas, phlox, coneflowers, roses, hollyhocks, daylillies, Black-eyed Susan, butterfly bush and such take center stage. All plants that offer a good mix of textures, shapes and sizes…many hydrangeas help to form the backbone of my cottage-style garden. They create enduring leafy green beauty and a delightful color range…and, their striking,  showy, billowy blooms epitomize the carefree summer season.

Hollyhocks, Batchelor-buttons and cosmos add structure and height to the mixed border…

Fragrance is a key ingredient of any garden…pinks, with their delicious clove scent, butterfly-bush, lavender and one of the greatest of all…roses in abundance…provide a variety of scents as the sun warms each blossom.

Mother Nature provides a variety of fragrant herbs to use for cooking as well as offering great medicinal uses…While walking through my garden I have the habit of brushing against and rubbing my hand over the herbs planted along the paths. I can never resist stopping to break off a few stems of lavender and as I rub my fingers together over the stems of and breathe in the aroma, it is happiness itself and I slow down and relax for a moment.

The sweet, hay-like fragrance of Chamomile smells like summer. The tiny daisy flowers and lacy foliage have been used to make teas and poultices for centuries. The tea settles an upset tummy and if you’re stressed or anxious…a warm cup of chamomile tea is calming, especially before bedtime. The anti-inflammatory effects of chamomile are also very helpful with relief from headaches.

Comfrey is a great herb that medicinally can used for treating sprains, broken bones and bruises and it works. As an inflammatory, I’ve used it to help heal an ankle sprain and treat serious bruising after a recent bad fall. Aside from being magical in my garden, the foliage is pecked and loved by my chickens and helps provide them with additional protein and nutrients. Mulching with comfrey around the base of plants will help retain moisture and protect beneficial organisms while acting as a slow-release fertilizer. I also toss comfrey leaves into the compost pile to boost nutrients. This great herb has a deep root system and as a dynamic accumulator plant, provides nutrients to surrounding plants.

Wooly Lamb’s Ear has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. The soft, fuzzy leaves absorb blood and help it to clot more quickly. They also contain antibacterial and antiseptic properties…I always reach for a leaf when I get a rose thorn scratch or knife cut while working in the garden. For landscaping, I have used this plant as an edging along the entrance to my driveway…at night it offers a silvery brightness in the dark.

Lavender plants and oils are the most versatile of all herbs…they have medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary uses. Most commonly known for its relaxing and calming effects on the body, a good lavender lotion is very therapeutic for your skin. Lavender encourages a good night’s sleep and relieves severe tension headaches when the oil is rubbed into your temples and neck. The oil may also be used to cleanse cuts as well as soothe bruises, burns and skin irritations…and so much more! There are also a multitude of culinary uses.

images-12  A bucket of MY rich compost…I am vigorously in control of my garden…except when the chickens are scratching and pecking at the dirt…not the other way round…and, I’m not so good sitting about and contemplating my garden for very long. However, when I do ever so briefly, I always spot something that needs doing…a bit of extra compost spread around the roses, a trim here or there, missing mulch…I love it and the joy it brings me. As I work the soil, I feel the possibilities in my hands.

Last time I wrote about making tea lights using mason jars…Now, I have found this lovely idea in an old magazine from the ’90s…TEACUP candle holders for the patio. Using fine flexible garden wire, simply make a wire cage similar to those that surround a champagne cork and add hangers on each side to balance the cup. Put a tea light in each cup and hang from low tree branches or clothes line strung around the porch.

452292d4307aaec9cd21e582618bd955Make the most of summer’s simple pleasures…Outside, beneath the spreading trees, on patios, and porchestake a moment to celebrate the season. Enjoy a ritual common throughout the Mediterranean region, woven into everyday life, is a time set aside to share a refreshing drink and socialize before the evening meal. While sipping an iced tea or glass of wine, a few salty snacks such as nuts, olives, saucisse son, cheese, and crispy gougeres …this wonderful time will pique your appetite and help you take time to take time.

Summer in a glass…img_4688.jpg

Awaken your senses on sunny days or sultry nights with Lillet and a bit of lemon squeeze and rind in the glass…or fresh peach slice. Delightful.



Holly suggests a cold shower on the porch to cool off after a long walk…

Ground rules…connected to the land.

Summer arrives in full force…June is a wonderfully colorful month with flowers blooming everywhere in the garden…a medley of old-fashioned flowers in shades of pink, blue, lavender and white here is punctuated by plantings of flamboyant foliage and a blast of bright yellow accent. Flowers always bring a smile!



Growing with the season…sunshine, blue skies, and a few rain storms bring out the tastes and blossoms of early summer!

Sweet, tiny Alpine strawberries ready for picking daily…stately garden phlox offer a fragrant welcome to visitors and beneficial insects. In their own order, many other fruits and vegetables and flowers make their appearance creating an abundance once again to be picked, tasted and enjoyed.

Companions and Easy Edibles…Planted together, herbs and flowers are great companions in a vegetable garden and help to yield a greater harvest. Organic gardeners are much more willing to use time-honored, environmentally safe methods of growing. We all know that companion planting principles help protect and produce greater crops.

As good organic gardeners we must try to understand as much as possible how plants can effectively improve and help each other thrive. All those old-fashioned cottage gardens that were and are a riotous quilt of flowers, herbs and vegetables, jumbled together prove what we now know about companion planting…it works!

If you don’t have enough space for a large garden…create a mix of crops and herbs with a few flowers in containers. The large galvanized troughs are perfect for many food crops, especially tomatoes, peppers, basil and such. The 3-tiered hanging garden is a great idea for herbs and salad greens for a limited space area. Be creative and remember almost anything can hold plants and almost any vegetable can be grown in a container. Be sure to provide blooming marigolds and sweet alyssum to attract pollinators…a must for tomatoes…IMG_1427

Tomatoes, essential for summer home gardens. I only grow heirloom varieties. A few of my favorites are…Brandywine, Black Cherry, Yellow Pear, Rose Gold and Green Zebra.

Some simple things to try: Heirloom Tomato Salad with herb vinaigrette…

1/4 c. avocado oil, 3 Tblsp red wine vinegar, 1Tblsp. Dijon mustard, 1 Tblsp. lemon juice, 1 Tblsp honey…fresh thyme, chopped basil leaves, parsley and salt & ground pepper. Whisk or make in a jar and shake. Makes enough for just a small salad…increase amounts as needed. I will add feta or goat cheese to salad depending on what I have on hand.

Heirloom Tomato Tart, an elegant and delicious showstopper for a summertime meal.

You’ll need a tart crust so make your own or buy prepared pie crust. PREBAKE the crust. For the filling: Combine 2 cups ricotta cheese, 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 lbs heirloom tomatoes sliced for top of tart, salt and pepper for seasoning and fresh basil leaves for finishing. Spread cheese mixture on cooled tart crust, Top with plenty of sliced tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!!

Create a magical atmosphere on summer evenings…


Create tea lights using recycled jam jars, or…buy new Mason/ Ball canning jars, wrap wire around the top to hang them from tree branches or an arbor.


Bonne idée…I love Bonne Maman jams and always save the empty jars. Once the delicious jam is eaten, the jars can be re-used for a variety of purposes. I use for herb bouquets, storing dried rose petals and lavender buds and garden seeds, making salad dressings and much more. I especially love their distinctive gingham tops.



A walk on the “wild side” needs a path…a collection of scrambling, tumbling plants fill the areas along these garden paths. I typically use stones set in gravel for a path when designing a landscape but the grass path shown above is a delightful change!


Til next time AND…a look at FOOD, the culture of the South.

Wear a hat and protect your skin from the summer sun!