vintage

A “ruff” photo shoot

It all started well enough…

A dried sunflower or three in an old enamel coffee pot…

But then… My Master wanted more green…

So she put the coffee pot and the sunflower or three on the lawn…

dried sunflower 1

Hm… My little curious nose said. Dried sunflowers?

dried sunflower 2

Dried? Sunflowers?

dried sunflower7

I mean. Who can resist dried sunflowers, right?

I know this little puppy can’t!

dried sunflower4

And. What is more important? A photo shoot of some old dried sunflowers in an old enamel coffee pot?

Or… My happiness?

dried sunflower6

Yup. My happiness won out.

dried sunflower 3

The End.

 

 

 

 

gardening, herbal fare, vintage

Garden Travels: Lavender Ridge Farms

Last month, I had the great pleasure of visiting Lavender Ridge Farms, an herbal and culinary destination just up the interstate from my house.

lavenderfarm17

Located in Gainesville, Texas, this two acre lavender farm has been in the family for more than 150 years.

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In previous generations, the farm grew melons and strawberries. It opened in 2006 as a lavender farm, one of the few such farms in North Texas. (If you have ever tried to grow just a few lavender plants in your backyard garden, you will understand and appreciate why there are few lavender farms locally.)

Visitors to Lavender Ridge Farms are given a basket and instructed on how to properly harvest lavender.

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I was surprised to see that all sorts of pollinators are as attracted to lavender blossoms as humans are.

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In addition to growing and selling lavender, the farm’s gift shop houses many lavender items for bath, kitchen and home. (If you are weak and buy all things herbal, take a trusted guardian. Though I don’t regret buying two cookbooks, a package of their house blend lavender tea, lavender pepper spice blend and an enormous bag of dried lavender buds for future craft projects. Plus. A few plants, including the lavender plant Phenomenal. Below is a display of Lavender Phenomenal, not what I purchased.)

lavenderfarm2

Lavandula x intermedia Phenomenal is a new variety of lavender that is marketed as durable in our high heat and humidity better than other varieties. Lavender Ridge Farms has had phenomenal success growing this plant.

The farm also sells irises, which can be viewed and ordered in the spring, with delivery and planting that fall.

lavenderfarm15

Cafe Lavender offers a shady respite, where you can dine in a lovely plant-filled courtyard while overlooking the lavender field. (Sorry, I failed to take a picture looking that direction, I was too enamored by the plants in the courtyard!)

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The cafe’s menu features several lavender infused dishes, such as lavender honey chicken salad and lavender cheesecake. (Both were divine!)

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The farm’s large pollinator garden was aflutter with butterflies the day of my visit.

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I could have spent all day poking around the gardens and viewing the many assorted garden ornaments.

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I loved their creative use of rusty saws and garden implements.

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Lavender Ridge Farms’ facebook page says it best:
An herb’n experience you can’t get in the city.

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bibliophile, gardening, vintage

Sweet April Showers…

“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers,” wrote Thomas Tusser in 1557.

“When April steps aside for May, like diamonds all the rain-drops glisten; Fresh violets open every day: To some new bird each hour we listen,” penned Lucy Larcom.

If the earth does indeed laugh in flowers, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, it surely must be May that binds poetry and botany forever together.

“May and June. Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year…”~ Peter Loewer

stock in pottery

“The May-pole is up, now give me the cup; I’ll drink to the garlands around it; But first unto those whose hands did compose the glory of flowers that crown’d it.” ~ Robert Herrick, The Maypole

tea may with book

Come take a tour of the melodious garden, located in zone 8a, southern Denton County, Texas, and see what is blooming this first day of May, 2018.

“Horticulturally, the month of May is opening night, homecoming and graduation day all rolled into one.” ~ Tam Mossman

clematis

This deep purple clematis is always a show-stopper. And a reminder that I simply must plant more! While many vines are aggressive overachievers (I am talking to you, trumpet vine!), most varieties of clematis are well-behaved and grow lightly over rose branches or trellis.

“Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.” ~ Virgil

winecup1

Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata) are a native wildflower that rivals the best patch of bluebonnets, in my honest opinion. It grows from a rhizome, with foliage branching out along the ground. The hot magenta flowers (shaped like… wine cups!) attract bees and butterflies. It is extremely drought tolerant and slowly reseeds in the garden. I thin out the older rhizomes when the Wine Cups have finished blooming, then I thin out a few more so I can share this beautiful flower with fellow gardeners.

“Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses…” George Herbert

green ice rose

Green Ice, a unique miniature rose, is one of the few roses in my garden that survived the plague that is Rose Rosette Virus. I am not sure why or how not one, but two! Green Ice roses survived when the other roses in the area were infected. Miniature roses are not known to be exceptionally hardy, after all. But here they are. Beautiful. The white blooms will take on a greenish cast over the next few weeks, hence its name. Green. Ice.

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” Edwin Way Teale

winecup and green icie

The photo above shows the mini rose Green Ice with Wine Cups scrambling through its branches. Wine Cups do not smother out other plants, in my experience.

“Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

poppy

Ah. One lone poppy. I have no idea why, but after years of not growing in my garden, I had one lone poppy pop up this year. It is a stunner, isn’t it?

“A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king.” ~ Emily Dickinson

penstemon

I love plants that reseed here and there. Above is Penstemon tenuis, the perfect reseeding perennial. Tough as nails, not aggressive, lovely shade of lavender. What more could one ask for? Well, it also makes a great cut flower. I do not dead-head this plant when it is done flowering. Rather, I let the seed pods dry completely on the plant, then I cut them way back and cast the seed heads here and there, wherever I would like to see it spread. On-site composting and super easy seed sowing all in one.

“O the month of May, the merry month of May, so frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!” ~ Thomas Dekker

hosta

I love the greenness that hostas add to the garden. While flowers are lovely, sometimes green – different shades of green, different textures of green – are a welcome relief to the riot of color that is spring. The above hosta, Curly Fries, has been a great container plant in my garden, nestled back into my one shady spot.

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring. Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?” ~ Edward Giobbi

amarylis

And who can resist a shot of bright red on the first day of May? Hippeastrum (amaryllis) is a great addition to any southern garden. It is often dug up, divided and passed along to others after it is done blooming.

“Sweet May hath come to love us, flowers, trees, their blossoms don’ and through the blue heavens above us the very clouds move on.” ~ Heinrich Heine, Book of Songs

veilchenblau

While there is no such thing as a blue rose, Veilchenblau may come closest of all. This is another RRV survivor in my garden. A rambling old rose, its blooms start out crimson colored, then fade out to the above colored grayish mauve. While it only blooms in the spring, it is worth the garden space!

“Among the changing months, May stands confest the sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed.” ~ James Thomson, On May

winecup and mallow

As I was contemplating my RRV devastated garden a few years back and wondering how I would ever be able to garden again, something hit me. Orange. Bright orange! Gone are the soft pinks of my dear antique roses. I am now playing more with colors and adding in splashes of oranges, yellows and reds. Above, Munro’s Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) blooms happily alongside Wine Cups.

“Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun.” Kahlil Gibran

dandelion

I couldn’t resist. She was blooming in my garden today and I just could not overlook her. The dandelion. The lowly dandelion. Why it has that reputation, I do not know. Please, please leave dandelions in your garden. They are an important source of nectar for honeybees!

bibliophile, vintage

In the garden I spend my days…

In the garden I spend my days; in my library I spend my nights. My interests are divided between my geraniums and my books. With the flower I am in the present; with the book I am in the past.
~ Alexander Smith, 1863

winnie the pooh

I stumbled across this quote a few days ago and it moved me. I have been reflective of late, now the mother of a teenage boy. As he moves into manhood and I go through our overflowing bookshelves, it hits me hard. All of the great books we have enjoyed over the years. Some I will pass on… Some I will treasure forever, both in my heart and in my home.

winne the pooh 1

Part of the melodious garden’s mission is to pass along the love of literature and share with others the joy of reading great books. In my own way, I am a literary preservationist. I find books without a home and find new homes for them.

poetry for very young

As I sort through our home library and organize and price my books for work, I am struck by how many of the books are duplicates. The books I now seek for my business are often the same books my son loved as a child. Each one a welcome piece of the past. With the flower I am in the present; with the book I am in the past. How wonderful and true that is.

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Books featured on this blog post will be available this spring at the melodious garden’s boutique at The Grapevine Antique Market. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in these treasures today.

bambi

A few of the books pictured:
Bambi – copyright 1950
Five little Peppers and how they grew – copyright 1965
Hans Brinker – copyright 1957
Poems to read to the very young – copyright 1961
Winnie the pooh (before he became the yellow bear we know today!) – copyright 1946
The Pooh Story Book – copyright 1965

books1

vintage

A Good Mystery

Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

While some may want nothing more than to curl up with an Agatha Christie novel, I prefer my mysteries a bit more real. As in: What is this object I just bought?!

Such was the case last week when I happened to buy… A German Pretzel Holder?

pretzel holder1

Who even knew there was such a thing as a pretzel holder? Certainly not I. But thanks to a lovely group of ladies on a Facebook junkin’ site, I was able to find out exactly what it was that I had purchased. Eighty posts and many fascinating ideas later, the mystery was solved.

I adore estate sales, second hand stores, antique markets, flea markets, anywhere that I might find oddities and curiosities.

I spied this item at an estate sale in Grapevine, Texas, last week and knew I had to have it.

Whatever “it” was.

The home was filled with items brought back from Germany and Africa – and a whole wall of German books in German! (In addition to the pretzel holder, I bought a wooden clothes hanger that is stamped with “clean clothes properly” in German.)

The mystery item, which I think would make an adorable flower vase, turns out to be… An Ilkra Edel Keramik pretzel holder, designed by Ernst Werner in 1958. Such a fun mystery!

bibliophile, herbal fare, vintage

Vintage Tea Party, a book reviewed

Vintage Tea Party by Carolyn Caldicott is one of those books that need repeated readings to be fully absorbed.

Once through just for the photographs, which are simply stunning. From the double page spreads of English landscapes to the smaller photographs of tea cups, finger sandwiches and beautiful tablescapes, the photographs draw you in and make you want to linger a bit.

Another trip through the book and you glean the history and importance of tea, the rise of afternoon tea, the difference between low and high tea, the joy of a fireside tea and the petite adventures of a nursery tea.

The book draws you back again for the recipes, which require another – now deeper – study of the photographs. The recipes are written in English measurements, but can be easily converted.

From beginning to end, this book is charming. To quote, Vintage Tea Party tells “how afternoon tea developed from its modest beginnings to become a much-loved celebration of indulgent pleasures.” A century and a half may have passed, but I am absolutely in love with Anna, the Duchess of Bedford’s idea of “a tea and a walk in the fields.”

How to get that vintage tea party look?

Step one: Check your attic or Grandma’s china hutch for cups, silver and linens. Antique markets always offer an abundant selection of tea party essentials. One need not have matching dishes. Mix and match and coordinate to please your tastes and style.

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Step two: The food… When homemade treats are not possible, shop at a local bakery or pastry shop for tiny morsels. A baguette sliced and topped with butter and fresh jam and a few bits of fine cheese are simple enough yet pleasing. I adore Ms. Caldicott’s advice: “You don’t need to be a domestic goddess to have a tea party. As long as the tea ingredients look home-made and are served with vintage style, there are ways to cheat and make life easier.”

tea 3

Step three: The tea… Ah. The tea. So many possibilities and so many personal favorites. The British Emporium in Grapevine is one of my favorite places to shop for tea, but most groceries now carry a variety of options.

Now, about that tea and a walk in the fields. Brisk fall days such as today are the perfect pairing!

tea 1

 

bibliophile, vintage

Once Upon An Autumn Day

Aren’t these saucers the perfect addition to a fall tea party?

fall dish 2

I will be reviewing Vintage Tea Party by Carolyn Caldicott later this week. (Sneak preview: Neat book! Loved the vintage dishes and photography.)

Tea time is a nice pause in the middle of a hectic day, a chance to settle in, relax, enjoy a quiet moment, reflect for a bit. Once a little boy, now a young man, my son still sits down to tea. The draw? Food. He comes to the table for a snack, stays for the tea and a poem or two. The best part of a vintage tea party is that one can mix and match the dishes, cut a few early fall flowers for a small bouquet. It need not be fancy (or the food homemade) to a perfect tea party.

fall dish 1

Once upon an autumn day,
Colorful leaves began to fade
In the midst of a chilly, frosty air
As multitude of trees grew steadily bare.

Once upon an autumn day,
The whispering breeze was here to stay
Moving aimlessly through the countless trees
Scattering leaves with the greatest of ease.

Once upon an autumn day,
The leaves whirled freely in every way,
Until at last they came to rest
Finding a haven in which to nest.

Once upon an autumn day,
The trees were dormant, and the leaves lay
Waiting for the winter snow to fall
To quickly obscure them one and all.

~~~ Joseph T. Renald

ihand with fan

 

 

 

 

bibliophile, vintage

Portrait by a Neighbor

dog

Before she has her floor swept
0r her dishes done,
Any day you’ll find her
A-sunning in the sun!

It’s long after midnight
Her key’s in the lock,
And you never see her chimney smoke
Till past ten o’clock!

She digs in her garden
with a shovel and a spoon,
She weeds her lazy lettuce
By the light of the moon.

She walks up the walk
Like a woman in a dream,
She forgets she borrowed butter
And pays you back in cream!

Her lawn looks like a meadow,
And if she mows the place
She leaves the clover standing
And the Queen Anne’s lace!

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

gardening, herbal fare, vintage

Lemon verbena

Long time garden friends will not be shocked when I say:

Lemon verbena still is – and will forever be – my favorite herb.

A delight to brush against on a hot summer night while out watering the garden, its scent is refreshingly lemony without being overpowering

It is easy to grow and mixes in easily in containers, cut flower gardens, vegetable patches -the list is endless. Lemon verbena will grow in full sun to partial shade. Just be sure to plant some near your kitchen door so you can step outside and cut some whenever you want a punch of lemon flavoring.  It tends to get leggy if not pinched back regularly, so prune back and use the leaves often.

lemon verbena in pot

Though an annual in North Texas, it keeps its flavor when dried for winter use. If you can find lemon verbena in the nurseries now, it isn’t too late to plant and enjoy before our first freeze.

While I am still experimenting with ways to use this herb, I want to share two of my favorites. (And I will share my all-time favorite lemon verbena peach cobbler recipe soon!)

lemonade with lemon verbena

Lemon verbena lemonade (adapted from Fredericksburg Herb Farm’s recipe)

1 handful of lemon verbena leaves and lemon grass stalks

1 large can of frozen concentrate lemonade

2 large lemons, juiced

1 lemon, sliced for garnish

Wash and pat dry herbs, and place them in a large glass pitcher. Cover with the lemon juice. Stir together, pressing down on the herbs with a spoon. Add lemonade mix and 3 cups water, chill overnight. Garnish with lemon slices and additional herbs, if desired. (Mint may also be added to the lemonade. Alas. My son has mint sensitivities.)

peaches with lemon verbena

Lemon verbena peach ice cream (adapted from Cuisinart’s strawberry ice cream recipe)

1 pint fresh peaches, peeled and diced

Lemon verbena leaves – about ¼ cup

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 cup sugar, divided use

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

In a food processor, whirl together ½ cup sugar with the lemon verbena leaves until the leaves are chopped fine. (The scent will be amazing!) In a small bowl, combine the peaches with the lemon juice and the lemon verbena/sugar mixture. Stir gently and allow the peaches to macerate in the juices for a few hours.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and remaining sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the heavy cream and any accumulated juice from the peaches. Turn on your prepared Cuisinart ice cream freezer and pour in the dairy mixture. Let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Add in the peaches during the last five minutes of freezing. (*Make sure the Cuisinart container is very cold, at least 24 hours in the freezer.)

 

bibliophile, gardening, herbal fare, nature, vintage

the melodious garden, explained

An orchestra pulls in many elements to make a wondrous song. The conductor. The musicians. The instruments. The acoustics of the performance hall.

And so it goes with gardening. A gardener pulls together plants, the elements, the sights and sounds of nature, to make a harmonious garden… a melody.

And such, the melodious garden is born. I seek to pull together the sights, sounds and textures of life, to pass along my love of books and gardening, beautiful creations and flowers and nature.

the melodious garden is coming together in pieces and parts. This blog. My garden boutique at The Grapevine Antique Market. (Booth U16, in “The Loft.”) Selling used books on Amazon. There are a few more garden related adventures on the horizon that will come together in time. My lovely sister-in-law, Kerri, is joining me on part of this journey, as she will be selling her floral creations in my garden boutique.

I have no idea where this path will lead, but life is always an adventure.