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.
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.
Make the most of summer’s simple pleasures…Outside, beneath the spreading trees, on patios, and porches…take 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…
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…