This quaint vignette, from a garden in France, can be found on a blog I follow by Kristin Espinasse, French-Word-A-Day. She placed this vintage kitchen chair in her yard and Voila’… cherry tomatoes quickly began to scramble over it!  Just the bit of whimsy I love to find in a cottage garden. For years I have placed many different types of chairs in both my gardens and landscape designs for clients…some for vines, some for roses and some in the potager for little cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and small French melons…and even some for just a bit of rest. I tend to use whatever I can find to add that tiny bit of unexpected delight to my garden…So, be creative, find that special something that makes you smile and put it in just the right spot in your garden.

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A vintage teak deck chair here is a  nice spot to rest, relax and enjoy the fragrance of old garden roses…

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Below, this old red “motel” chair adds some color contrast to the yellow Black-eyed Susans blooming throughout the garden..while offering a spot to set a few garden essentials, clippers and a weed/trim bucket.IMG_3047

Along with chairs…

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Through a garden gate…especially one that lures you in…offering a hint of what you might find once you enter…just another bit of whimsy to add to your summer garden. A gate is what you typically see when you approach a garden, and it instantly makes a statement. Framing a gate with an arch makes a gate even more distinctive…

 

 

Are you among those who can remember…the smell of fresh cut grass and the whirring sound of an old rotary mower…the churning, cranking sound of a wood slatted ice cream maker packed with ice and cream and fruit from the garden…the twinkling of fireflies in the yard at just about dark…the feel of a gentle breeze just before a gentle cooling rain shower…the taste of juicy watermelons, peaches and ripe blackberries just picked fresh from the vine and warmed by the sun…thankfully, if so, those wonderful old summer memories offer timeless values in a world often moving too fast.

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Ah, those summer memories…as a kid spending my summers on the family farm, work was hard, the days filled with lessons learned and exciting adventures! After a full week of working the fields of cotton and tobacco, alongside all the folks who were PAID, my hands were stained from picking tobacco leaves and my legs wobbly from dragging heavy burlap bags filled with just-picked cotton boles to the mule sleds. Cotton can get heavy, a pound is a pound and most of the bags held about 30-40 pounds depending on the picker.

I was also responsible for helping my grandmother with the vegetable garden and the chickens and the cows. All this daily activity made me greatly appreciate the once a month reward for, “not paid help”, of a trip to the beach. Nags Head, North Carolina was our favorite destination! Early Saturday morning we put hay bales in the back of  the old pickup…looking very much like the above picture…and laid quilts over the bales to keep the hay from making us itch. In the kitchen, while chicken was frying in an iron skillet, we laid out fresh sliced bread on the table, slathered mayonnaise on each slice, sprinkled pepper & salt and then added huge, thick slices of tomatoes I had picked from the garden. Along with the chicken, tomato sandwiches, bowls of potato salad and deviled eggs, jars of sweet tea and a chocolate cake were packed into large metal “coolers”  layered with hunks of ice from the chest freezer in the wash house. About 6:00AM, we all…my cousins and I… climbed in the back of the truck and the adults in the front cab, and grandpa headed down the long dirt drive that led to the highway traveling east for a day at the beach. All the way there we sang and told stories and laughed, read the Burma Shave signs and watched the farms and fields of corn and peanuts and all the other crops roll by. Our excitement grew as we passed all the road signs telling us we were almost there! We spotted the giant sand dunes and screamed…”Finally we’re here”, even though it only took 2 hours to get there. Grandpa parked the truck along the “beach” road, we all scrambled out of the back, unloaded the quilts, coolers and beach chairs and walked onto the warm sand. All day we would swim and ride the waves and run with the dogs and build sand castles, and bury each other under buckets of wet sand. Finally, happily exhausted our stomachs grumbling and anticipation high, we sat down on the quilts to enjoy our beach feast…Later, on the road headed home, we all fell asleep…our hearts filled with joy over such a simple day of fun at the beach.

Our picnic spot did not look quite so lovely as the picture below, but NOW as I remember the days, I imagine how a vintage spot might have been in anther place, far away…

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A taste of the good life…Years ago, Grandmother would say, “If you go find and pick a quart or two of blackberries and a basket of peaches, I’ll make my special cobbler…” Well, I took off running down the path to where I knew there were loads of berries and picked and ate until I had enough. The peaches were more of a challenge, I had to climb up the tree, ignoring the bees, and fill a basket with ripe sweet fruit. Back in the kitchen, I helped grandmother prepare the fruit mixture and watched as she made the special cobbler crust. Many years later [the 80’s] while living in California, I would make this special cobbler for friends and clients…They loved it and I even had one celebrity client make an offer of marriage if I would make the cobbler for him every week…’course he was joking!! But it’s that GOOD!

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Blackberry and Peach Cobbler…Ingredients for the filling: Mix together  2 quarts of blackberries, 2 quarts of peeled peaches, 2 cups of raw sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, some cinnamon and a pinch of salt…I do squeeze juice from a fresh lemon juice over the mixture, but it is optional. Let it sit while you make crust.

For the crust: Mix/cream together 2 sticks of soft butter, 1/2 cup raw sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. In a seperate bowl, sift together 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, pinch of salt…Add butter mixture to dry ingredients and then add 1 cup chopped pecans…mixture will look a bit like cookie dough. Put the fruit in a 4 quart baking dish and then drop spoons of dough on top of the mixture to make a cover. Bake at 350′ for about an hour…check several times to be sure the crust doesn’t get too brown. Filling should be bubbly around the edges. [I put foil under the rack to catch any possible spills.] Serve with FRESH whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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From Holly, after a cooling bath, and me…make some great summer memories!

One thought on “Summer is served…warm & bright with long days of sunshine!

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