4:05 A.M….No, I was not out in the garden just yet. Although I might as well have been as the days and nights of time spent in the garden lately has seemed very, very long. I believe the garden is done and ready for show. It is the best I can do for right now. I hope you will be able to come to the tour on Friday and I am happy to report I remain in a (sort of) vertical position. I did see the chiropractor on Monday and asked that he straighten my back from a somewhat curved-forward position and to open my hand from what looked like a permanent shovel-holding position. I really welcome your comments on my living portfolio and the start of our summer garden, the best of summer.

The garden is only different from the original design in the plants: there are more shady spots because tree canopies have grown, resulting in plants moving to where the sun is and filling the voids with shade-lovers; some plants have died or failed to thrive and were removed and replaced by different varieties. I rarely install the same plant in place of one that died. I figure if the first plant was unhappy, the probability is high that another of the same will follow the same fate. Better to choose something different; sometimes I just flat-out become disenchanted with plants –they grow too big, or their habit is weird or the seasonality too short. Out it comes.

As to 4:05 A.M: this was the time on the clock when I heard the first bird this morning, both because we are early birds and because the window was open. Just because I heard him didn’t mean I got up; I listened to him sing his beautiful song still a bit in dreamland. Yet, while I was offering thoughts of gratitude for this gentle way to start the day, my eyes still closed, I thought of how wonderful it is to hear birdsong and how the bird sings–just because he can. I like to sing too, but I am confident no one in my house or neighborhood wants to hear me at 4:05 A.M.

Sleeping with windows open is one of the greatest joys in life. The only thing I might say would be better is to have a sleeping porch like many houses had at the turn of the twentieth century–a porch for when the temperatures made bedrooms too warm for comfortable sleeping.  Growing up in the Buffalo, New York area, house windows and even doors were left open all night in the summer. We did not have air conditioning–no need. Given this, I suppose the attachment I have to open windows is nostalgic.  In addition to birds at night, I remember hearing crickets and adult laughter from neighborhood terraces. I imagine now that it was over a glass or two of wine and candlelight. My brother James would practice his cello at night in the summer, and I remember falling to sleep hearing that. Beauty is not just what we see with our eyes.

I love summer and mean that with a full heart. While I find things to appreciate in other seasons, summer is where it’s at. I love warm temperatures and the list of things that follow, garden-related of course:
1. Strawberries. As noted below, St. Mary’s in Haddon Heights is holding a Strawberry Festival on Saturday, June 11th. White Horse Pike and Green Street. Details below. I suggest preserving some with a batch of strawberry freezer jam,  or making a strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberries cut up in a salad, and cleaned and dipped into some turbinado sugar; this might be the best way to enjoy them–simple and beautiful;
2. Seals and Crofts’ song “Summer Breeze.” “Blowing through the jasmine on my mind…..” There is no other time of the year when fragrance rules in the garden: jasmine, lilies, petunias, herbs…ahhhh….even a summer rain has a distinctive fragrance;
3. Farmer’s Markets. I love how there are more and more markets all the time, making fresh produce available right from the farm;
4.The big garden chores are O-V-E-R. From here on to fall it’s weeding only. Picking veggies from the community garden. Maybe some dead-heading if I feel like it. Mostly I don’t;
5. Cut flowers from our garden for vases placed in the kitchen, powder room, bedroom, and kitchen;
6. Outdoor music festivals. Usually these are in county parks and a great way to appreciate the outdoors and larger landscapes. Take a picnic basket, too;
7. Canoeing in the Pine Barrens. Our friends, Wayne and Lois, try their best to cajole us out to the Batso River every summer. If you’ve never been, consider it this year.  Last July, the Summersweet was in bloom along the river banks and the fragrance is just fab;
8. The front porch. Morning or night, this is the best summer room in the house;
9. A walk down to the ice cream store after supper. I love the new salted caramel flavors. Delish.  I know this has little to do with the garden, but it is a nice walk up-town;
10. That first tomato. Nothing else to say, except with a juicy chin…ahhhhh…complete with eye-roll…

Have a favorite of your own? Post on the space below!


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