~ for the love of blueberries

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The month of June is blueberry harvest season here in my central Virginia garden. Planted four years ago, the O’Neil high bush variety thrives, sans disease or insect pressure. The ongoing 2015 harvest is a banner year!

This season I decided to use tulle instead of bird netting to keep the harvest bird-free.

This year I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place. Much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a good garden friend. What do they remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place, a much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a veteran garden friend. What do these blueberries remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

O'Neil blueberry variety is my favorite here in my gardens. Large, juicy fruit greets me every day for nearly one month in June.

O’Neil blueberry high bush variety is my favorite here in my Virginia gardens. Large, juicy fruit greets me every day for nearly one month in June.

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripened berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I can snitch a handfull as I go by during the day! As the fruit ripens, I place in glass jars in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic...

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripened berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I can snitch a handful as I go by during the day! As the fruit ripens, I place in glass jars in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic…

 Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week.

Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week. Here I whipped up a quick batch of popovers and served them with fresh blueberry conserve and whipped cream! Yum!

today is a good day for blueberry jam, as the berries just keep coming

today is a good day for blueberry jam, as the berries just keep coming

I began by cleaning my French copper preserving pan with salt and lemon

I began by cleaning my French copper preserving pan with salt and lemon

following a great recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, the ingredients came together quickly.

following a great recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, the ingredients came together quickly

back to the kiss system...simple, pure, flavorful

back to the kiss system…simple, pure, flavorful

as the pan's contents bubbled, the color deepened

as the pan’s contents bubbled, the color deepened

using the Rachel Saunders' technique of sterilizing the jars in the oven, the final jam returns to the oven for 15 minutes longer to seal ~ a huge improvement over the boiling kettle process.

using Rachel Saunders’ technique of sterilizing the jars in the oven, the final jam returns to the oven for 15 minutes longer to seal ~ a huge improvement over the boiling kettle process

projects like this are very satisfying

projects like this are very satisfying

the little lemon that could

the little lemon that could

O'Neil blueberries beginning to ripen

O’Neil blueberries beginning to ripen and keep on giving the entire month of June

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with July 4th just around the corner, blueberries make a stunning dessert presence ~ simple, fresh, delicious

my collection of French copper serves me well for a lifetime

my collection of French copper serves me well for my lifetime

Blueberries are a very old fruit, and are native to the US. They are reputed to have both health and nutritional benefits, and are very easy to grow. Recipes are handed down for generations, lauding this well-loved fruit. If you don’t grow blueberries, find a local pick-your-own farm, load up the kids, and have a morning of flavorful fun.

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wishing you and yours a pleasant and safe summer, while the flutterbies keep me company here at Swallowtail Cottage. Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

the kiss system

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a photo of me during my design days...

During the years I worked as a residential interior designer, most of the fabric houses had what they coined the kiss system…attached to the main sample were smaller flags of complimentary fabrics, often making the selection process simple. The acronym translated, “keep it simple, stupid.” These days, I would prefer to drop the last s, as stupid is not accurate, nor kind. Yet, I digress…

Since 2000, I wandered into the world of food, where keeping things simple continues to be paramount. Needless to say, I never offered wedding cakes as part of my repertoire. As owner of a one-woman operation, my mission is: “respect the earth, create memorable food.” Additionally my steadfast slogan is: “there is a fine line between order and chaos,” and the kiss system is still as effective today as it was during the last decade.

springtime has simple written all over it...

springtime has simple written all over it…

As temperatures rise, my appetite declines and I seem to crave cool, easy, no-brainer (stupid?) recipes. If you follow my posts regularly, the last was about chocolate gelato…today, my recipe is even more simple…

Remember the Dreamsicle? Recently, I began craving this flavor and created the following in a matter of minutes:

begin by adding one can of full fat organic coconut milk and one can of organic frozen orange juice, to a blender...

begin by adding one can of full fat organic coconut milk and one can of organic frozen orange juice to a blender…

add both cans to the blender with 1/4 up of sugar and whirl...

add the contents of both cans to the blender with 1/4 up of sugar and whirl…

pour this into a loaf pan or glass cold-proof container and freeze...

pour this into a loaf pan or glass cold-proof container and freeze (shown here with cream floated on top after orange is frozen)…this can be then scooped OR

OR slice the frozen orange gelato and serve with a pretty garnish...

slice the frozen orange gelato and serve with a pretty garnish…no sticks necessary!

When orange is first frozen, add a half-inch layer of heavy whipping cream to the top and freeze again. This is super right out of the freezer, as the coconut milk keeps the texture smooth and not too hard to scoop. Slices make for a nice presentation.

June in Louisa County

June in central Virginia

OK, is this wee recipe something you might try during these steamy, soon to be summer days?

Happy summer and be safe!

If you have a minute, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

be cool ~ try some homemade gelato

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just a few quality ingredients and an Ice cream maker are all you need for this silky chocolate gelato

just a few quality ingredients and an ice cream maker are all you need for this silky chocolate gelato

good quality chocolate added to hot ingredients

good quality chocolate added to hot ingredients

a quick stir and a smoothe result

a quick stir and a smooth result

hot mixture moved to a bowl to cool

hot mixture moved to a bowl to cool

then into the ice cream maker

then into the ice cream maker

soon there will be silky goodness ready for the freezer container

soon there will be silky goodness ready for the freezer container

I prefer a cold-proof glass  container for the freezer.

I prefer a cold-proof glass container for the freezer.

the next day, voila! Silky, not too sweet, richly chocolate gelato!

the next day, voila! Silky, not too sweet, richly chocolate gelato!

For the egg-free recipe:

3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c sugar
3 T. organic corn starch (push through a fine sieve)
pinch of kosher salt
7 OZ. semi-sweet chocolate (use a 60% bittersweet)
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 1/2 c. milk to a boil over moderate heat. In a separate bowl mix the remaining 1/2 c. milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together with a whisk, until no lumps are visible. Add this mixture the boiling milk and whisk 3 minutes continuously. Contents will thicken nicely. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until completely melted. Transfer to another bowl and cool, stirring occasionally. To speed the cooling process, the bowl may be placed into a larger bowl of shallow ice water. When mixture is cool to the touch, add to ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Finally, transfer mixture to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight. Before serving, defrost gelato for twenty minutes or until soft enough to scoop. Makes about a quart.
Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

bountiful blueberries

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The best part of June in central Virginia is blueberry harvest.

Botanists estimate that blueberries burst onto the scene more than 13,000 years ago! The little blue fruit that our country has grown to know and love is indigenous to North America and has deep roots in our country’s history. These blue jewels are reputed to have both nutritional and medicinal properties, therefore I consume blueberries daily as part of my kale smoothie.

O'Neil blueberries beginning to ripen

O’Neil highbush blueberries beginning to ripen

This year I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place. Much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a good garden friend. What do they remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

This year I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place, a  much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a veteran garden friend, Jan Spires. What do they remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

O'Neil blueberry variety is my favorite here in my gardens. Large, juicy fruit greets me every day for nearly one month in June.

O’Neil blueberry variety is my favorite here in my central Virginia gardens. Large, juicy berries greet me every day for nearly one month in June.

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripened berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I can snitch a handfull as I go by during the day! As the fruit ripens, I place in glass jars in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic...

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripe berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I snitch a handful as I go by during the day! When the fruit fully ripens, I place them in glass jars and place in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic…

Forget the pancakes, waffles and crepes...popovers are fast, fun and deelish!

Forget the pancakes, waffles, and crepes…popovers are fast, fun and deelish!

 Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week.

Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week and a plentiful harvest!

can you taste this? Popovers made with almond milk are the best and fresh blueberry conserve, made at home in minutes is splendid with a bit of whipped cream

can you taste this? Popovers made with almond milk are the best and fresh blueberry conserve, made at home in minutes, is splendid with a bit of whipped cream

Cookbooks bulge with blueberry recipes, as this fruit is a national favorite. If you do not grow your own blueberries, find a pick-your-own farm nearby, pack up the kids, and head out for a morning of fun.

Most blueberries do not require any spraying, making them most desirable. In fall, the leaves turn a handsome scarlet hue. They are also easy grow plants, so why not consider a few for a sunny spot in your garden? Your local extension office can offer suggestions for the best variety in your growing zone and once established, this powerhouse berry will reward you for years to come.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Arkansas, an escape like no other

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A very special reunion occurred May 11-14.

A very special reunion occurred May 11-14.

There is a TV host and lifestyle guru named P Allen Smith. His vision led him to land on the Arkansas River, just outside Little Rock. There, five years ago, he began to invite garden bloggers from around the USA for a two-day intensive. I was lucky to go in 2013 and again last week for the five-year reunion.

P Allen Smith of TV fame sharing his vision with his favorite garden bloggers

P Allen Smith of TV and garden fame sharing his home and vision with his favorite garden bloggers outside Little Rock, Arkansas (pallensmith.com)

as a group we did a lot of hugging and chatting...

as a group we did a lot of hugging and chatting…

Allen greets us all

Allen greets us all

even the girls came strolling in to see what all the activity was about

even the girls (and Amos, jr.) came strolling in to see what all the activity was about

we toured Moss Mountain Farm's main residence and admired the flowers from sponsors American Grown (americangrownflowers.org)

we toured Moss Mountain Farm’s main residence and admired the flowers from sponsors American Grown (americangrownflowers.org)

what inspiration at Moss Mountain Farm!

what inspiration at Moss Mountain Farm!

everyone enjoys the vistas from the rear porches...

everyone enjoys the vistas from the rear porches…

Mr. Duncan, the resident Scottie, was front and center and a hoot in the garden

Mr. Duncan, the resident Scottie, was front and center and a hoot in the garden

The lower level was a treat to stroll showing Allen's innate ability to create a charming home

the lower level of Allen’s residence was a treat to stroll showing his innate ability to create a charming home

while strolling the gardens, Allen shared his latest successes

while strolling the gardens, Allen shared his latest successes ~ quite an education!

views like this are everywhere

views like this are everywhere

while around the farm, critters galore. Allen's conservation of heritage breeds is laudable.

while around the farm, critters galore. Allen’s heritage conservation program of endangered breeds is laudable

while one of the Anatolian shepherds cools off in a field trough while guarding the White Dorper sheep

one of the Anatolian shepherds cools off in a field trough while guarding the White Dorper sheep

Allen's one-acre veggie garden evolves with bounty and creativity

Allen’s one-acre veggie garden evolves with bounty and creativity

a pair of swans set the stage for a funny story Allen delivered later that evening during Tales from the South live broadcast

a pair of Mute Swans set the stage for a funny story Allen delivered later that evening during Tales from the South live broadcast

heritage roosters feeling their oats and making an empressive show

heritage roosters feeling their oats and making an impressive show

a flock of White Dorpers from Africa and their soft and cuddly babes enjoy the bounty at Moss Mountain Farm

a flock of White Dorpers from Africa and their soft and cuddly babes enjoy the bounty at Moss Mountain Farm

while back in Little Rock, John from the Department of Tourism gave us an impressive walking tour of Main Street

while back in Little Rock, John from Little Rock Convention & Visitors Center gave us an impressive walking tour of Main Street

facades of Little Rock's history on Main Street impress

facades of Little Rock’s history on Main Street

the Little Rock (little rock.com)architectural details are another story

the Little Rock (little rock.com) architectural details are another story

we even met the Mayor of Little Rock who explained the impressive downtown restoration projects

we even met the Mayor of Little Rock who explained the impressive downtown restoration projects

impressive permeable pavers and water collection along Main Street, Little Rock

impressive permeable pavers and water collection program along Main Street, Little Rock

the historic Little Rock trolley ride was fun for all

the historic Little Rock trolley ride was fun for all

more beautiful flowers from American Grown

more beautiful flowers from American Grown

I had to give one of the Big Sisters at Moss Mountain Farm a hug, as she is 350 years old

I had to give one of the Big Sisters at Moss Mountain Farm a hug, as she is 350 years old

this presentation by Corbin and Rachel  from Flexzilla (flexzilla.com) was informative and entertaining. Legacy Manufacturing Company invented this fantastic hose...every garden should have at least one.

this presentation by Corbin and Rachel from Flexzilla (flexzilla.com) was informative and entertaining. Legacy Manufacturing Company invented this fantastic hose…every garden should have at least one.

Allen worked with Legacy to offer a colorful line of the Flexzilla hoses

Allen worked with Legacy to offer a Watercolors Collection of colorful Flexzilla hoses

Crescent Garden (crescentgarden.com) wowed us with their products of functional containers loaded with style

Crescent Garden (crescentgarden.com) wowed us with their products of functional containers loaded with style

Crescent Garden's jazzy planter...one of many

Crescent Garden’s jazzy planter…one of many

Lois Chaplin and her wonderful, knowledgeable team always make for an interesting presentation (bonnieplants.com) Make sure and download Bonnie Plants new garden ap...

Lois Chaplin and her wonderful, knowledgeable team always make for an educational presentation (bonnieplants.com) Make sure and download Bonnie Plants new garden ap…

Bonnie Plants (bonnieplants.com) since 1918 provides plant material to over 15,000 plant retailers around the USA

Bonnie Plants since 1918 provides plant material to over 15,000 plant retailers around the USA

Meals were festive and American Grown and Stargazer Barn (stargazerbarn.com) were generous sponsors

Meals were festive while American Grown and Stargazer Barn (stargazerbarn.com) were generous sponsors

two bloggers show off the fanciful garland headdresses at the final dinner

two bloggers show off the fanciful garland headdresses at the final dinner

Jobes Organics blow me away every time they present their latest line of products...(easygardener.com)

Jobes Organics blow me away every time they present their latest line of products…(easygardener.com)

Sakata Home Grown (sakatavegetables.com) breed and produce seed found in many garden centers and online

Sakata Home Grown (sakatavegetables.com) breed and produce seed found in many garden centers and online ~ I am growing their Lilliput Melon and cayenne pepper this season. Notice the tall stand of asparagus just over Allen’s left shoulder…good eating in spring! Envy!

Allen and I in the one-are garden; a special friend in a special place (pallensmith.com)

Allen and I in the one-acre veggie garden; a special friend in a special place

Special thanks to the city of Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, The Capital Hotel (capitalhotel.com), Kathleen Williford of American Grown; Steve, Carolyn, Will, and Netta of Aromatique (aromatique.com); Paula, Cesar and Mark of Crescent Garden; Joe from First Nature (firstnature.net); Corbin, Rachel and Andy of Flexzilla; Clemente, Jen, Martin, and Rebecca of Jobes Organics; Tracy and Alecia of Sakata Home Grown; and Bill from Stargazer Barn; and a huge shout out to P. Allen Smith Hortus Ltd, and Associates Staff for making this reunion one for the record books. You all inspire, educate and help provide for Allen’s magnificent Heritage Conservation Programs.  Anyone wishing to visit Moss Mountain Farm, simply go to the website for scheduling and special events at P. Allen Smith.com. Shop P.Allen Smith.com for Allen’s personal collection of online garden home gifts.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

good health begins here…

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In March of 2014, I read a book and began having a kale smoothie every day.

Now don’t squish your face in disgust and hit the delete button…this is good food folks…and by popular request, I am posting a wee recipe for you to try.

No, I am not ill, just became inspired by a book, then cherry picked through it to fit my needs.

Although a foodie with a food business, I admit not eating according to my standards. I get busy, and often the raw veggies go off the plate. This smoothie idea appealed to me because it is fast, loaded with nutrition, mostly raw, vegan, organic, and did I mention FAST??

It all begins with kale. I am growing Lacinato kale variety, as it is tender even when bought in the organic section of the green grocer

It all begins with kale. I am growing Lacinato kale heirloom variety this spring, as it is tender ~ even when bought in the organic section of the green grocer

fold the rinsed leaves of kale lengthwise and with a sharp knife, slice off the long stem

fold the rinsed leaves of kale lengthwise and with a sharp knife, slice off the long spine

a nice neat pile of greens ready for the blender cup

a nice neat pile of greens ready for the blender cup

this handy cup makes the entire process a snap

this handy cup makes the entire process a snap

these ingredients are the basis of a health smoothie

these ingredients are the basis of a healthy smoothie

save a step by grinding golden flax seed in a coffee grinder

save a step by grinding some golden flaxseed ahead of time in a coffee grinder and store in the fridge

voila, freshly ground flax seed

voila, freshly ground flaxseed

place the ground flax into a glass jar for storage in the fridge, as flax goes rancid quickly

place the ground flax into a glass jar for storage in the fridge, as flax goes rancid quickly

nutritional yeast, ground flax seed, and spirulina all have a place in the fridge for easy access when creating a smoothie.

nutritional yeast, ground flaxseed, and Spirulina all have a place in the fridge for easy access when creating a smoothie

the cup is full of greens and topped with blueberries and other fruits of choice

the cup is full of greens and topped with blueberries and other fruits of choice

on to the blending part

on to the blending part

whirling goodness

whirling goodness

is this a pretty healthy way to begin a day? Often followed by two farm fresh eggs, over easy.

a pretty healthy way to begin a day often followed by two farm fresh eggs, over easy.

this is the source of my inspiration regarding smoothies and food in general. Dr. Wahl explains health and nutrition like no other publication. (I receive no compensation for the mention of this book.)

this is the source of my inspiration regarding smoothies and food in general. Dr. Wahl explains health and nutrition like no other publication.

it all really begins here; this 5X12 raised bed produces much fresh food and kale is an early/cool crop

healthful nutrition really begins here; this 5X12 raised bed produces much fresh food and kale is an early/cool crop

since parsley winters over, this healthy stand not only goes into pesto, but a handful will go into today's smoothie

since parsley winters over, this healthy stand not only goes into spring pesto, but a handful will go into today’s smoothie

Now for my recipe for Diane’s Kale Smoothie:

  • gather, rinse and de-stem the kale
  • gather, rinse a handful of parsley
  • in the blender cup add 3/4 c. organic, unsweetened coconut milk
  • a hefty T. of full fat (yes full fat!)coconut milk solid (once the can is opened, it turns to a solid in the fridge. Cover can with clean pet food lid)
  • add heaping T of ground flaxseed
  • add heaping T nutritional yeast (found in bulk department of health stores)
  • add heaping 1/4 t. Spirulina (a very healthy green algae)
  • stuff the kale and parsley into the cup and add frozen organic fruits of choice. I always include blueberries, and also like pineapple and mango
  • Whirl all this goodness and enjoy
  • if too thick just add more coconut milk or RO water to suit

I do not receive compensation for mentioning this publication nor ingredients in this post. I tried many ingredients before deciding on the ones featured. Dr. Wahl’s book is a very educational read, as she teaches the importance of greens, and, yes, organ meats. OMG! ORGAN meats!! I will admit, I cannot get past liver of any kind, yet discovered that beef heart is a most delectable and affordable edible. Sourced locally from grass-fed beef, and found at my farmer’s market, I always thank the beast and feel it’s strength in my body. Local bison and free-range local farm eggs are other favorite proteins that provide affordable, sustainable food.

Followers, I do hope you will make this book a summer read, and apply the information however it speaks to you. Details and specifics of nutrition are fully discussed in this publication, far better than I could mention here. I look forward to hearing your feedback. And remember, the smoothie recipe here is my personal creation, and can be changed to your liking. Just don’t omit the kale…

living in the country where vistas like this keep me centered

living in the country where vistas like this keep me centered

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

stroll with me in a friend’s April garden

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My garden stroll began off the patio

Earlier today, I visited a very special garden. The sun shone brightly and my garden stroll began off the patio

a tree peony in full glory

a tree peony in full glory just outside the four-season room

looking back toward the house

looking back toward the house

colorful vistas drew  me into the garden

colorful vistas drew me into the garden

endless profusion of textures delight the eye

endless profusion of textures delight the eye

an explosion of color lead me deeper into this     garden

an explosion of color leads me deeper into this garden

POW!

POW!

Again!

Again!

delicate perfection

delicate perfection

a rhododendron blushes at peak

a rhododendron blushes at peak

then calm pervades

then calm pervades

this hue is so special in the garden while exquisite blooms seduce

this hue is so special in the garden while exquisite blooms seduce

sunlight creates a painterly quality ~ stunningly unique this day in time

sunlight creates a painterly quality ~ stunningly unique this day in time

a quiet path leads to the adjoining property

a quiet path leads to the adjoining property

a hidden gem that will house delicate specimen plants during the warm summer months

a hidden gem that will house delicate specimen plants during the warm summer months

another azalea whose name I must learn

another azalea whose name I must learn

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this structure is a textural statement

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yellow this early in the season is sublime

the journey continues

the journey continues

the pool at rest while the greenhouse is full of overwintering plants

the pool at rest while the greenhouse is ripe with overwintering plants

this is a delightful specimen that I would like in my garden

this is a delightful specimen that I would like in my garden

blue is a rare find in any garden, and this plant is especially desirable

blue is a rare find in any garden, and this plant is especially desirable. It is Ajuga. 

careful placement of this colorful maple demands attention this day

careful placement of this colorful maple demands attention this day

trumpet shaped flowers ablaze

trumpet shaped flowers ablaze

and again

and again

this maple is breathtaking along another path

this maple is breathtaking along another path

more texture

more texture

serene view from the patio

serene view from the patio

full circle

full circle

 a dazzling container just outside the garden fence

a dazzling container just outside the garden fence

endless profusion of blooms

endless profusion of blooms

plenty of boxwoods set the stage for triumphant bursts of color

plenty of boxwoods set the stage for triumphant bursts of color

rich textures, patterns and colors abound

rich textures, patterns, and colors abound

on my way out of the property I had the pleasure of meeting Sally, a twenty-year veteran gardener of this garden ~ I am humbled by her talent and cheerful persona

on my way out of the property I had the pleasure of meeting Sally, a twenty-year veteran of this garden ~ I am humbled by her talent and cheerful persona

And to think I nearly missed time in this garden. At the last moment schedules aligned which allowed access and time to explore. As the nearby town bustles, this serene property rests and provides sanctuary for its owners/stewards. Merely forty years old, this garden is a testament to the vision, dedication, passion, and grace of those who created it and to those who currently reside and cherish this garden paradise. It was sheer pleasure to stroll, admire, and photograph.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

it is early ~ it is time…

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The date is March 29. Following one day of temperatures in the 70’s, the forsythia is beginning to bloom, the Tete a Tetes are up, and this lady gardener is more than ready to begin the 2015 growing season.

These petite daffs are my favorite early spring bloomers

These petite daffs are my favorite early spring bloomers.

My raised beds groomed for spring/summer crops.  New cattle panels will support snow peas and other climbing edibles

My raised beds are groomed for spring/summer crops. Newly installed cattle panels will support snow peas and other climbing edibles.

Clean straw creates tidy path between rows

Clean straw creates a tidy path between rows.

Heirloom catnip is snuggled under row cover to ward off the blasted and persistent flea beetles.

Heirloom catnip is snuggled under row cover to ward off the blasted and persistent flea beetles. This catnip variety is a cash crop for lucky kitties.

Another of my favoite early spring bloomers...hellebore

Another of my favorite late winter/early spring bloomers…hellebore.

"Tiny" the 40 YO floribunda is in her new location for the second season, now protected from browsing rabbits.

“Tiny” the 40 YO floribunda is in her new location for the second season, now protected from browsing rabbits.

This is a serious cleat within the high tension wire aloft the split rail fence. This devised for the anticipation of the new Arctic Kiwi fruit later this season.

This is a serious cleat within the high tension wire aloft the split rail fence. This solution was devised in anticipation of the newly planted Arctic Kiwi fruit harvest later this season.

Following yesterday's gaerden accident (my helper fell off his ladder and landed on me, severely spraining my left ankle). Hardly the condition to be in one week before market season begins! At least I can polish my exposed nails while I wait!

Following yesterday’s garden accident (my helper fell off his ladder and landed on me, severely spraining my left ankle.) Hardly the condition to be in one week before market season begins! At least I can polish my exposed nails while I wait!

So go the everyday challenges of life. Observation of wild birds, the greening turf, the appearance of blooming bulbs, and the promise of harvest all nudge me toward an optimistic presence.

Happy spring to all my followers and thanks again for your interest in my little life here in Central Virginia, USA. Would love to hear from you. Cheers!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

jump start to spring 2015

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still buried here at Swallowtail Cottage

still buried in the white stuff here at Swallowtail Cottage

I admit, this winter tests my patience.
E-v-e-r-y single indoor project is complete.
Numerous recipes are tested.
Too much buttered popcorn and Irish whiskey consumed.

popovers made with organic coconut milk...and experiment that worked

popovers made with organic coconut milk…an experiment that worked

The new No-Kenad Brioche recipe from Cook's Illustrated blew the competition out of the water...

the new No-Knead Brioche recipe from Cook’s Illustrated blew the competition out of the water…

Too many cold days and LONG nights decorated with additional frozen rain and bonus snow ~ February was the sixth coldest on record for Central Virginia.

The baby Crimson Japanese maple delights this day

the baby Crimson Japanese maple delights this day

I fed a dozen nearly frozen Bluebirds (and various others) my custom bird food, made from WF bulk department (organic hulled sunflower seeds, currants, cranberries, and TJ’s sunflower seed oil, all spun in a food processor.) I spend more on their food than on mine…
Piles of books and Fine Gardening magazines were perused. I learned a lot.

I fell in love with a new kale ~ a must in my daily morning smoothies

I fell in love with a new organic kale ~ a must in my daily morning smoothies, its name is as pretty as its habit…Lacinato and it is an heirloom variety.

Enough already.
Although my garden is still buried under the white stuff, I want to take you back to a previous blog post…one that promises garden delights from Swallowtail Cottage.
THINK SPRING!!!
If you reside in Boston or more northerly USA parts, my condolences and special wishes go out to you. Every one of you deserves a medal. I wager in nine months an uptick in Boston area births will go on record too…congratulations!
On to the eye candy:

https://dianelasauce.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/flowers-that-bloom-in-the-springfa-la/

That’s all this winter weary gardener can muster today. Right now it is a sunny 45 degrees fahrenheit, so I am headed out to a bright corner on the lower patio, where I can sunbathe and daydream…would love to hear from you. See you on the other side…

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

 

 

in with the new ~

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The landscape is forever evolving here at Swallowtail Cottage.
I moved here fourteen years ago, (brother how time flies) and have lived to see the initial plantscape mature to the point of necessary major editing. Last summer numerous spent shrubs were removed, leaving considerable voids to fill. This winter, the back row of cypress had declined to the point of intervention. At least with board fencing, this problem will have an instant solution. Not so in the front garden, where I must wait five years for the new shrubs to mature.

the rear row of Leylands begain to die from too much shade, exposing my property to light pollution, road noise and nosey neighbors

the rear row of Leyland Cypress branches began to die from too much shade, exposing my property to light pollution, road noise, wild critter invasion, and nosey neighbors

With a little elevation, the rear row of cypress became the backdrop for the new fence

with a little elevation pruning by me, the rear row of cypress became the backdrop for the new fence

fabulous team at work

fabulous Joe Phillips crew at work — day one

nothing like the right team with the right tools...

nothing like the right team with the right tools…

I love a perfectly dug hole

L.O.V.E a perfectly dug hole. These professionals made digging look effortless!

promising piles of things to come

promising piles of things to come

progress

progress

ahhh

ahhh, the good stuff

Joe Phillips is the MAN for fencing projects in central Virginia

Joe Phillips is the MAN for fencing projects in central Virginia

everything in its place...

everything in its place. Two 16′ boards at a time, each crew member carried material (on their shoulder) to the rear of the property, carefully avoiding dormant perennials. All supplies were hand-carried to the project area. What a considerate crew!

ready, set, go...

ready, set, go…notice the amateurish built fence by my neighbor a few years back. Rotting boards (not pressure treated) will soon fall down. Perhaps they will hire a professional fence builder next time…my fence will outlive me.

thirteen posts placed, leveled and tamped

thirteen 4X6 posts placed, leveled, and tamped. Varying heights were necessary to comply with the terrain

placement of the boards begins...

placement of the boards begins…

finished fence...11' tall at high end and 7' tall at low end...

finished fence…11′ tall at low-end and 7′ tall at high-end…pine needles make a nice mulch in this area, raked from the school grounds around the corner

view from the lawn side of the deep shrub border

view from the lawn side of the deep shrub border

back side of fence with room to return to stain later in the year

back side of 90′ long fence with room to return with solid stain later in the year. Weeds should remain at bay too.

time to take the gloves off and enjoy another completed project

time to take the gloves off and enjoy another completed project. Winter is a great time for such outdoor schemes, sans ticks and other biting insects that plague central Virginia nine months of the year. Bracing morning air was invigorating too, keeping me from hibernation mode.

this morning's view from the rear terrace, across the turf. The shrubs really pop and have improved light and air

this morning’s view from the rear terrace, across the turf. The shrubs really pop even when dormant and have improved light and air for their growing seasons ahead

Another successful home improvement project is under my belt.
Since 2001, projects here, both indoors and out, require my full attention — the reality of owning an older home with a needy landscape.
Applying my design and communication skills, employing a sense of humor, and being somewhat tolerant of budget overruns, keep me honed and motivated for the next solution/design project. Furthermore, as the designated primer/painter here at Swallowtail Cottage, this homeowner stays in shape too.

Next up, the much awaited pergola at the rear terrace. Now that will be a much welcomed addition. Will I ever say UNCLE??

Stay tuned…

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved