20 April 2010

Gardening in the south bed

Doesn't it sound like I have an estate in England when I say that? That is not the case! (Today commenced the first day of "Graduation Party in 2 months, countdown nightmare".) My south bed is about 30 feet long and 15 feet deep and used to be a really sunny spot in my yard with many perennials. Time has passed and trees have shaded this bed, perennials have disappeared and some shrubs have been added. It was time to do an overhaul with what I had on hand.

I dug and hauled, replanted and moved, sat back and looked...not too shabby! The Clematis, roses, hydrangea, butterfly bush, red bud and wiegela are my anchors and everything else is filling in. I moved an immense amount of hollyhocks (cross your fingers they are happy) and dug out tons of lemon verbena.

I think I can add a few pots of creeping annuals around the rock border and viola! I do need new lavender plants, mine did not make it this winter, and I love them to bake and cook with it.

It was such fun to play in the dirt surrounded by blooming tulips and phlox, listening to the bees in the blooming redbud tree. I made fresh lemonade, put up the patio umbrella and listened to John swear at the rototiller! The sweet life!

Thought you might like our favorite lemon verbena recipe:

Raspberries in Lemon Verbena Gel

2 1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
1 cup lemon verbena sprigs, lightly packed
2 tsp unflavored gelatin (that’s 1 packed minus 1/2 tsp)
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1 pint fresh raspberries

1. Heat 2 1/4 c water with the sugar in a small saucepan.
2. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from the heat, stir in the lemon verbena and cover and steep for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/4 c water and let it swell.
4. Strain the verbena syrup.
5. Stir the gelatin into the hot liquid until it dissolves.
6. Cool to room temperature.
7. Stir in the lemon juice.
8. Arrange the berries in dessert glasses.
9. Pour the gelatin over them and chill until firm.

These look beautiful in martini glasses, tall shot glasses or small, clear ramekins. Sliced fruit didn't make as nice of a presentation, but still tasted great!

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