Garden Vignettes

For many years, I’ve wanted to establish a side garden on the south-facing side of our house. Last year, my wish came true.

Handy Man dug up the narrow strip of sod between the sidewalk and the cedar hedge, and we enriched the remaining soil with compost. On the shady side by the hedge, I’ve planted edible herbs (sage and thyme) and dusty millers because the deer don’t like them. There are also ferns and a few ornamental grasses, purple pansies and deep blue lobelia. Nestled amongst them is my vintage garden gnome, introduced in an earlier post.

Behind the hydrangea on the sunny side of this narrow garden, I planted sunflowers and tomatoes. Happier bedfellows I have never seen. Honey bees (someone nearby must have hives) have swarmed the sunflowers all summer, and I anticipate chickadees this fall. Meanwhile, a bumper crop of luscious, vine-ripened tomatoes has been gracing our dinner table for weeks.

But what truly turned this little side garden into my happy place was a another thrift store find—a rusted cast iron welcome plaque that Handy Man spry painted a cheery red and mounted on the gate.

So there you have it. Welcome to my side garden!

Until next time,

Backyard Bargains & Best-Before Dates

Later in the summer I’ll be hosting a garden party to celebrate my daughter and son-in-law’s elopement. And yes, I know I’ve already mentioned it, but it’s become a delightful preoccupation. We’ll need extra seating, of course, and have been keeping an eye out for bargains. Well, look what I scored at a yard sale. For $15!

A pair of Adirondack chairs connected by a table creates a cosy spot for a tete a tete under the old apple tree.

Pairing the set with a gazing ball on a wrought iron stand creates a nice cottage look, don’t you think? Handy Man may paint the chairs at some point, but for now I’m loving them au naturel.

Spending time in our backyard is a favorite pastime and we do a lot of al fresco dining. Last night was no exception.

Salad fixings

The lettuce and beets are from our garden. I used my mandolin to julienne the carrots and beets – super quick and easy! Along with those are diced cheddar, sliced hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, chopped ham, sliced avocado, and on the far right a little jar of my favorite vinaigrette. Oh, and notice my adorable little crystal salt cellar with its silver salt spoon.

I don’t buy bottled salad dressing. For one thing, I get bored with using the same dressing over and over again. But then if I have several on hand, they hang out in the fridge forever. If you’re a bottled dressing buyer, do you check your best-before dates?

I’ve borrowed a vinaigrette recipe from Prudence Parker, the heroine in my upcoming novella, Kiss at the Cove, and she encouraged me to share it with you.

Pru’s super-simple super-tasty vinaigrette

Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
a drizzle of maple syrup, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake, shake, shake. Done.


Bon appetit! Until next time,