Tag Archives: flowers

summer doings

Whew!  Summer has been going strong and full.  We only have a 6 week summer break from school, and it has been packed.  With work, fun, gardening, harvesting, canning, play, camps, (sewing, for me), and all kinds of other things.  I’ll give a sample here – showing much of the things I love and cherish about summer.

lighting bugs

























  • Catching lighting bugs, of course.  The best kind of fun for a late night kid (it stays light until nearly 9 in mid-summer here).
  • Time for playing games.  Of course, the chess board does tend come out right when I ask for some help cleaning out the dishwasher or putting away laundry.  “But mom, we’re right in the middle of our game.”
  • Campfires and marshmallows (at least for the children).  It is a fun way to spend a long evening, especially with friends.
  • Hammocks and cousins.  Hammocks hung to relax in, take afternoon naps in.  And, cousins from out of town were here for a few weeks and we all loved seeing them.  Our three oldest children went to the farm camp for a few weeks and had a blast, playing with their cousins and friends all day, riding horses, making art.  Coming home tired and hungry and very happy.
  • Hythe, who would wear shorts and no socks nearly all winter, puts on sweatpants and a sweatshirt and plays in the yard on the hottest days of summer.  “What are you doing”, I say.  “I’m a gray wolf, mom.”
  • Picking flowers from the meadow and from my garden.  I love the fresh arrangements – large and small that I can scatter around the house.
  • And, I love them on the dinner table.  We have a 16 year old cousin from France visiting for the month (and helping out, too).  One of the wonderful things she does for every meal is to set the table beautifully, with plates at each place, napkins, flowers, glasses, pitcher of water, salt and pepper.  That sounds so simple, but often when I am getting ready to put a meal on the table, I am scrambling to get the food, plates, condiments, etc. to the table and I have to keep jumping up from the meal to fetch water, salt, knives.  Evva is usually in charge of setting the table, but often it is done with the perfunctory fork and knife, though occasionally she will find a napkin or two and put them out.  I have explained what I would like to have her do (put out the glasses, water, napkins, etc.), but see the note above about when I ask for a chore to be done (“but, mom, we are in the middle of . . .”).  We’re working on a solution!
  • Handsome husband sitting across from me at the outside dinner table while eating a great meal of fresh food from the garden and meat from the farm and washing it down with a cold local beer.  Contentment.
  • Lots of porch sitting and playing.  It is the perfect place to read a book, take a nap, or play cars.  Steven has been at without siblings for the past week (they are with my mom on the coast), and while he has enjoyed more undivided attention from parents, he misses his playmates.  (William and I miss them too.)
  • Picking berries.  While I love picking blackberries because they are free berries that I don’t have to do any work to raise, they have the most vicious thorns, and usually I have to get hot, sweaty, and thoroughly scratched up to get them.  This year though, the blackberry vines have grown right up to our back deck, thick with the largest wild blackberries I’ve seen.  So, I can stand on our deck, in the shade, and pick berries with minimal wounding.  And, I got enough to make jam.
  • Fresh jam.  So far, I’ve made sour cherry, mulberry, and blackberry.  We did not have enough jam to make it through the year last year, so I am trying to make more this year.  I’ve never made mulberry before, but William, Fiona (the cousin), and the children picked so many that I had enough berries to jam.  It is quite good.  And, jam jars are so pretty.


in the garden








We had really hot weather two weeks ago and we went away for the weekend, coming back to a garden loaded with things to harvest.  This past week has been cooler, but everything is still producing.

  • The green beans are nearly done (second planting is coming along). Lots of bean leaf beetles  on them.
  • Blackraspberries are done (such a short season).
  • The blueberries are still producing strong.
  • I am harvesting cucumbers everyday, but have yet to can pickles.  I love having them in the winter, but we do eat a lot of fresh cucumbers – in salads, mainly.  I have not had quite enough to pickle – maybe next week.
  • The first tomatoes were harvested (and eaten quickly).  No more have ripened since, and I’m thinking its because of the cooler weather this week.
  • The winter squash and watermelons are taking over the garden.  I’ve seen on ripe butternut already, which seems way to early, but probably not.
  • The potatoes are delicious.  I’ve harvested some of three varieties  One variety of red potato has lots of scab and so is not very pretty.  The fingerlings have been wonderful – as have the Kennebecks (my favorite, I think).
  • We are also harvesting mulberries, but only a few at a time – which either get eaten all up, or go in the freezer with blueberries or black raspberries.  The kids love to eat them (and climb the tree to harvest them).  They will keep going for a while.
  • The first zinnias have been picked (dalias, too).  The yarrow and alliums and dill are so pretty together.

I’ve definitely got some weeds (mostly grass weeds, which I hate most).  And, my 2nd beet planting failed.  I think I will try again in August when I do the fall planting.  I would love to have some more beets, since I think I only harvested 3 or 4.

What’s going on in your garden?

in bloom: in fruit


The peonies have bloomed and passed.  It happens so quickly.  These here are the ones I transplanted from my grandparents house a few years ago.  They are quiet in color, have a sweet fragrance, and are just beautiful – perfect flower in my opinion.


These poppies are blooming right now, and will continue for a while, I think.  Every time I send Evva out to pick flowers for the table, she picks a poppy and within a few hours, the petals fall off.  But, they are so irresistable.  These poppies came from my great-grandmother’s seed.  But, my sister-in-law grows some on her farm that are from her great grandmother’s seed (brought over from France just before WWI).  They look identical.  I love that these flowers are passed on through generations and have a bit of a story.  And, they are beautiful.


And, the wild daisies are blooming.  These flowers are so sweet; delicate yet hardy.  I love seeing them come up through the grasses, waving in the meadow.

And, I have a beautiful purple Salvia growing in a bed by the house.  Evva loves to pick them and use them in necklaces and arrangements.  And no,t your typical arrangement, but many like this one I found one the rock outside our door (our door-rock).


Also, cherries are in fruit.  This season also is short, a little over a week.  The cherries are going fast.  We’ve picked a few gallons, which have been eaten fresh or pitted for jam and pie (and a few for the freezer).  We’ve got 2 sweet cherry trees (at my mother’s house) and 1 sour cherry.  The sweet cherries were loaded with fruit, but we just can’t reach the higher branches.  But, at this point (after pitting cherries for 2 hours today), I won’t be terribly sad to see cherry season end here.  Though I will miss them.  My, they are delicious!


flower crowns and necklaces

Our second daughter is so very different from our first, her older sister.  Of course they are, they always are.  They are all so different from each other, right from the start.  But, it is still interesting.

Evva is a little flower girl.  She loves flowers, always picking them and carrying them around from as soon as she could walk on her own.  She picks flower everywhere she goes, every flower she passes.  Sometimes I have to stop her (especially in public flower shows!) and explain that some flowers must stay on the stem for everyone to enjoy.  She understand that now.  I have worked to foster that flower love for her.  I made a cut flower garden that she has free access to, and one of her jobs in the flower season (last spring through frost), is to pick flowers for the table and house.  Anne likes to get in on that action, too.

In the last week, Evva has learned to make flower crowns and necklaces from the humble clover flower.  I think she spends much of her recess time making flower crowns now.  She made a necklace for me the other day when we were sitting outside after school.  The then tied on three flowers from my garden, saying the first was for love, the second was for joy, the third was for  hope.  As my less-emotional, less-demonstrative child, I was touched by her gesture.  And, reminded that sometimes the things that are harder to do can be easier when they are channeled through things that we are comfortable with.

I LOVE that she loves flowers and feels such an affinity for them – for so much of the natural world.  And, really, all of our children do.  It pleases me.



She even made a necklace for the cat!  Not sure he was so happy about it.



in the garden 4.9.15








It is all about the flowers this time of year.  Our favorite tree on the property is a huge pear tree, leftover from someone’s homeplace many years ago.  It produces those huge, hard pears that are perfect for cider.  But, in the spring, she is majestic in full bloom, and we call her the Snow Queen.  The daffodils are fading, but my few tulips are blooming.  The apple trees are in the “pink”, as they say, but some are just starting to bloom.  They all make for perfect little arrangements to have on the table.

Dandelions are blooms plentifully – everywhere.  I was weeding my mother’s garden with a woman from Kosovo this week and she said that she used to make “dandelion honey”.  She described how she made it: 150 dandelion blossoms, some water (probably a quart), a sliced lemon or two, and sugar.  Boil this for 20-30 minutes and strain.  It sounded to me like what we might call dandelion cordial, but I think “honey” was the literal translation from Albanian.  So, I made some dandelion honey this week. It was quite good and would make a great lemonade.  I probably used too much water (2 quarts) because I thought it was a little weak.  I am putting a little in sparkling water and enjoying the sunshiny taste!

The fava beans, peas, garlic, and lettuces are growing well and quickly.  I finally put up a pea trellis, which I have not done in years, just letting the vines cover the ground.  But, I thought I would try to have a neater looking garden this year (we’ll see . . . ).  We’ve had plenty of rain and a bit of warm weather.  I need to replant radishes, beets, and lettuces – second sowing.  And, I can do that now because William tilled the whole garden this week.  We also have our seed potatoes, but have not planted yet.  Usually, I try to follow tradition of this area and plant potatoes on Good Friday (why?  because even if hit by a frost, they will “rise again”).  I plan to plant them that by this weekend, though.  I am excited to fill this garden up again.

What’s going on in your garden?  Is it still full of snow?  Do you see signs of spring?


in the garden, 3.26.15







Spring days are here!  I can see a faint blush of color on the lower slopes of the mountains where red maples are blooming and setting seed, spice bushes are starting to flower, and a general awakening seems to be taking place.  The grass in the lawn grew a few inches this week, but the garden is a bit slower.  Lettuce seedlings are still quite small, but the peas have come up strong.  Hythe was in the garden with me looking at everything that was coming up and I noticed a short row of strange looking peas.  He, of course, told me that they were not peas but funny beans that he planted – and I remembered that we planted a few fava beans there.  Well, those are up too.  The garlic has grown a little, the onions a lot.

In one of my other garden places, I am enjoying some wonderful daffodils that I planted (with Hythe’s help) in the fall.  I took recommendations from an article in Taproot Magazine by Erin Benzakein (you should check out her site – it is beautiful) this past fall.  She suggested a few specific varieties of spring flowering bulbs for cut flowers, which I ordered from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.  The double flowered is called Bridal Crown.  It is beautiful with small flowers and the fragrance is amazing.  I cut a few and put them on the table and every now and then catch a whiff . . . heavenly.   The other blooming now is called Pink Charm (I think).  My goal has been to plant enough bulbs that I can have cut flowers inside as early as possible.  I want to enjoy flowers outside, but want to have enough that they can also be enjoyed inside.

Not garden related, but Hythe has been a little daredevil on a bike lately.  He rode down our dirt road on a kick bike the other evening and William nor I could keep up with him (and he couldn’t stop).  It was a bit scary because he was going so fast that if he wrecked he would have been hurt (not to mention if a car had been coming up the road!).  We had no idea what he could and would do.  So, he has a ban on riding on the dirt road again until he has proper padding and has one of us at the end of the road to stop vehicles coming up when he is riding!  I took him, Steven, and a cousin to a pump track in South Asheville instead – so he could be a daredevil a little more safely.  Also, I love how he rides his pink, flowered, hand-me-down bike with pride!





it is on the way







One of my favorite times of the year is when the crocuses and snowdrops bloom at the Big House (our name for William’s great- and grandparents house).  I love seeing all the flowers bloom at the Big House, as they do in a procession through the spring, but the first to bloom are the snowdrops and crocuses.  The “rock garden” is covered by a sheen of light purple with white intermixed.  The surest sign, for me, that spring is coming, is imminent.  It is hard to describe, or capture with a camera, the magic of turning the corner of the boxwood hedge in late winter and walking into the sweet, ephemeral beauty of those flowers covering the garden yard with moss covered rocks and English ivy in the background.  We always make special trips to the Big House this time of year, just to visit the flowers – to revel in the sweetness of coming spring and admire the tenacity of those tiny flowers to withstand so much and still bloom.  Also, to admire the forethought and art of William’s great grandmother, Elizabeth, who planted those bulbs (and boxwoods) nearly 100 years ago.

We are also enjoying the few ephemerals that have been blooming at our house.  We get southern sun, while the Big House faces north, so our flowers bloom a few days to 2 weeks before theirs.  Of course, I am inspired by Elizabeth’s example, and have planted more bulbs each fall.  I have doubts, but I hope mine will grow to bring beauty to the world, and those who come after, for many years after I am gone.





garden update: into the fall










We might have one more pumpkin in the field left to pick and a few winter squash.

Flowers are still producing well–and I enjoy getting down to pick them–nearly all zinnias this year. Such cheerful flowers.

We’ll probably pick the popcorn soon. Hythe is nearly desperate to do it and points out each time we are near the garden that “the corn is dead”.

The first turnips have been picked. Look at those greens–so many and so beautiful! I froze the greens to eat this winter, but I’m planning to cook the turnips tonight with bacon and onions.

Hythe got the first carrots out of the garden. Little baby ones, which he disdained after tasting. They are a little bitter at this point. But, it helps to thin those carrots a bit.

We are eating salads from the garden again (and still outside)! Lots of arugula and a little bit of leaf lettuce so far. I hope the rest of the lettuce I planted comes up. I put in a large row of an unknown lettuce seed (which I found at the bottom of my briefcase), but I am afraid the seed was not good. It has not come up.

The radishes are huge! They grew so fast with the wet warm weather. I’ve picked nearly all I planted and not knowing much else to do with a lot of large pretty radishes, I pickled them! These pickles are so delicious, especially with meat (especially BBQ pork), and they will last all winter in the refrigerator. Not only delicious, these pickles are beautiful, but they are a bit smelly (pungent-good smelly, but smelly). Recipe below.

Also, my ginger lilies are blooming. They don’t always make it here with our cold weather, but I’ve found a protected place for these with full sun and they are happy. The scent is heavenly! Plants, thanks to Nita (an almost-aunt) who is one of my gardener inspirations.

Recipe for Pickled Radishes (update):

Put in a jar:
3.5 cups sliced radishes
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic

Make brine and pour over radish mix:
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 star anise
1 tsp coriander seed
1 bay leaf
3 tsp kosher salt