June 24, 2010

Chatelaine in a Jane Austen Novel

Let's pretend.  Pretend this morning we are chatelaine in a Jane Austen novel.  (Don't you love that word chatelaine....it sounds so Victorian, and kind of haughty, actually.)   While our domestics are inside baking the bread and scrubbing the floors, and after we have prepared our meal plan for the guests this evening (so the servants can do the marketing and cooking for said meal, of course) we decide to put on our sun bonnet and cut some flowers

 for the..............library, let's say.  A big, luscious, country bouquet that our city guests will surely appreciate for its casual, summery loveliness.

We are vexed when we see that the kitchen hound has chewed the handle on our beautiful, hand-tooled leather flower trug.  We say to ourselves that we simply
must talk to the cook about this matter, but

we are soon lost in the beauty of the blooms:  the pale pink and white of the
crinum and cleome, with the jaunty, abundant  coneflower, and

the bold color in the zinnia and black-eyed susans,   the dainty yarrow and veronicas.   Ahhhhhhh.

We take a sniff of their spicey scent.

We are thinking to ourselves that we have created the perfect combination of flora for just the right effect to impress our guests.

We stand back to appreciate the bouquet with a self-satisfied air.

Then its off to the kitchen for proper conditioning and arranging

And a word to the cook about that leather-chewing hound.............

June 23, 2010

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies

Something about orange is just so cheery, don't you think?  And inspirational.  So when a great kindness
was done for me, I wanted to say thank  you with something cheery and, well,  carroty.  Hence, these absolutely scrumptious  Inside-out carrot cake cookies (just click for the recipe) from the Epicurious website.  If you, like me, always have cream cheese (isn't it a food group all by itself), honey, raisins, and all of the usual baking
suspects, on hand............

 then just pick up some of these beauties and you too have the makings for
these heavenly carroty confections.  Oh, there's golden raisins and walnuts too.

Then, if your sons and their friends don't eat them all..................

display them in something befitting the initial kindness

with a cute tag in explanation, of course,

wrap with color coordinated tissue....

and these little beauties never looked, or tasted,  so good.

Thank you, you know who.

June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice Celebration

Here's my summer solstice idea for you:  John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seed  Celebrate the Solstice Seed Collection at www.kitchengardenseeds.com.  Because, if you're like me, just as the first day of
summer arrives, well, you're just about sick of it.  Usually, by June 21, ninety to one hundred degree temperatures have moved in.  The long, hot slog of summer, with its usually-uninterrupted-by-rain string of brutally hot and humid days has set in for the long haul, until fall that is.  Your sunglasses fog up when you walk out the door.  The shady parking places are always taken.  Your sunscreen tab is about as high as your electric bill.  You could cook...........ahem, where was I?

The wonderful seed selection to celebrate the solstice from John Scheepers.  If you're not already
familiar with this wonderful family of catalogs, let me introduce you.  Get to know them by ordering
one of their beautiful seed catalogs, and lusting after each and every selection described there.  Those who know me and my garden well, are aware that I have a thing for foxglove.  I adore them.  My soul requires them (so does my vanity).  In good years and in bad.  And not the demure (I think wimpy) 'Foxy' variety.  No, I like the tall towering kinds, just like the Excelsior Seed Mixture available from Scheepers as part of their Solstice Seed Collection.

They are spectacular aren't they?

I especially like how their color PERFECTLY complements the peonies that bloom with them

and the way their height can stand up to the elegance of a painted tuteur.

And, no, those little blotches inside the tubular blooms are not because they are diseased (as one
garden tour attendee once inquired).  They are meant to attract and guide those pollinating bees who use them to locate the good stuff inside.  I am very attracted to those seductive blotches myself.

If you are likewise smitten, why don't you order some to direct sow now or in the fall?  It will
give you something to look forward to during these ever so dogged days of summer.

June 19, 2010

It's Delightful, It's Delovely.....

I was just watching an eye-candy (and ear-candy too, if you like old, sentimental music, which I do)
of a movie, Delovely, about Cole Porter, his long-suffering wife, Linda, and, of course, his wonderful
music.  There is a scene in the movie with the loveliest bouquet combination (okay, it was a casket spray in a funeral scene, but still....) of white Casablanca lilies, various fern, and yes, purple Canterbury bells.
Just like these

These beautiful purple bells (I just can't let that purple thing go....) are a biennial, and took a couple of
years to mature into these lovely blooms.  They make delightful cut flowers,  ever so fresh looking with
white and shades of green in the vase, but feminine and delicate with pink and pale yellow.  Well, the scent of these beauties, along with those heady-scented lilies is quite simply, delicious.                          


A much richer, deeper hue of purple is displayed by
the perennial campanula.  Though its wonderful little
bells look down

its prospects in heavy soil look up.  I am always surprised at how well it
performs in our Oklahoma red clay.  And I ADORE the way the little buds look just like tiny hanging
eggplant.  Makes me smile just to look at them.

Blooming at the same time, creating the most beautiful echo of purple and lavender around the
garden, are the deliriously rampant, self-seeding (but in a good way), purple columbine.  This
wonderful strain  (that I can't specifically identify)

came home with me from a Munich beer garden.  There are very few plants that I allow to
behave with so little discipline.  But despite the inevitable leaf-miners that come later in the
season,  I just can't reign in these little lovelies, and I usually let them self-seed with abandon.

A little later, the tiny bellflower look-alike, adenophora, keeping company here with the variegated creaminess of Solomon's Seal, appears

at about the same time as the also-reliable self-seeding larkspur  (that as far as I'm concerned, go to

seed a little too fast).  Sometimes I feel like I'm cleaning up after them, before I've had enough time
to enjoy their company.  Ah well......

Delightful, de-lovely, delicious gardens don't ever last as long as we'd like.... just like good movies I

June 17, 2010

The Color Purple

Hmmmmmmm.  Let's see.  What to do first:  put saddles on those smug mosquitoes hovering in the floodwaters,  prepare an arsenal of chemicals to defend against plague of locust that will surely arrive any day now, or just sit on a bench and await the sound of hooves as the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse ride up.

Record ice and snow in December, record hail in May and record flooding in June makes even this
most confirmed gardener want to turn in her trowel, and become ever so paranoid about what that tantrum-throwing Mother Nature has in store for the rest of the summer.

So much for the romance of summer in the South.  (With my apologies to my good friends at Southern Living....).

As a coping mechanism, I've decided (in lieu of, or in addition to, heavy medication) to think

about purple.  Not the innocent every-little-girl-loves-pink-and-purple kind of way, but a more
sophisticated, sensual, and of course, horticultural sort of way:  the pale whisper of lavender in
the spire of a sage blossom, the deep regal richness in the leaf of a coleus or the blossom of
a dahlia, or the happy purple in the bell of the campanula.  Purple will gladly play solo in
a composition of blooms, but is at its best when being more companionable.  Holding its own with
a vibrant orange, its opposite on the color wheel, or being every so supportive in a marriage with
chartreuse...........a lemon-lime with grape flavoring that may be my favorite color combination
in the whole gardening world.

starting with this beautiful ajuga......common, yes, but ever so useful     and happy to look up to
that dramatic allium 'Schubertii'.

I wasn't wrong, was I?  This creeping phlox,  'Emerald Blue',  plays happily with the delicate
foliage of this golden feverfew I think.

Here's a deep purple hyacinth for your soul..........Peter Stuyvesant, I believe.  (Say that three
times fast:  Peter Stuyvesant Hyacinth, Peter Stuyvesant Hyacinth.....)

How about this ambitious climbing clematis 'President'?

Purple and white impressionism, ahhhhhhhhhhhh, just lovely.

Sage can do as much for your garden as it does for your turkey.  Satiety of a different form.

I would call this combination stunning, wouldn't you?

Don't you love the orange peaking from behind?  Are you inspired to plant/plan/purchase in purple?

Hope so.

June 8, 2010

Ode to the Radish

               To market, to market,

to buy a fat 

well, no actually...............................I was there for those little rosey globes to the left...................                                                                                                                                                       

those peppery, pink, pods of flavor...........the often overlooked, humble radish.  Frequently overshadowed by their more popular companions on the crudite platter, these radishes are delicious, full of vitamin C, calcium, and fiber.  But that isn't necessarily why I buy them.   Maybe it's because they are sold by

smiling, beautiful vendors like this....................or because they are displayed so exquisitely with other crunchy delicacies like these

(don't you just love the way they cuddle up against the bok choy?)  Or because at the Fayetteville, AR Farmer's Market their is an artist

a Mr. Edmondson, I presume (oh, and his handsome son) who have elevated the lowly radish

to a whole new level.  A new art form really.

Radish as fine sculpture.  Radishes, not to be mistaken for these

more worldly beets.  (That also might make for fine sculptural material;  I just wouldn't know.)

No, radishes hold a special place in my heart.  So much so, that I grew these beauties

Radish 'English Rose' (are you thinking about Princess Di?  I was. So sad.) this spring.

But back to the radishes at the market on


It's time to stop taking pictures of radishes

stop admiring how they match their tablecloths :)

stop mourning their fleetingly short season

and just           take them home again

 home again

and enjoy.