Purple garden

Tomato flowers

Purple has returned to my garden: between the phlox, the lavenders, the bee balms, the betony, the cone flowers, the hostas and the evening stock there is not a lot of room left for other colors.

Opal basil

Bee balms

You won't believe how long these waited to open, their buds lingered for almost a month.

It's not that I planned a monochrome garden to feature this beautiful color, flowers in other colors simply put off their bloom. Purple looks cool and refreshing in the ninety degree heat, yes, we have reached the sweltering days we all know and love.

I shouldn't judge by human standards, though, the plants love the hot and humid summers, the hotter and more humid, the better. They grow like crazy and brazenly assert themselves, each and every one trying to take in as much as it can from the steamy heat.

Lately it rains every afternoon, I feel like a dweller of an equatorial climate and I'm sure the plants do too. My little mid-summer jungle is slowly shaping up, in a graceful and controlled manner this time.

The morning sun heated up the drenched flower beds, making them steam up the overgrown foliage. It's the fullness of summer, people, next week is the fourth of July!


Culinary lavender

Pepper blossom

Spanish lavender, ladies and gentlemen, sadly an annual in my garden. Lavender is of course the go to plant for skin care and aromatherapy, but it can hold its own with the rest of the mints and spices in the kitchen cupboard.

I discovered Herbes de Provence a while back, a spice mix that contains a good quantity of lavender, and it keeps finding its way on every roast and in every stew ever since. You can substitute lavender for rosemary in recipes that call for the latter, add it to breads and custards, or mix it in salad dressings. Lavender honey is quite a wonderful delicacy for the breakfast table.

Lavender honey can be produced directly by bees who collect their nectar in lavender fields, but it is more likely any type of honey infused with lavender buds. The honey and flower mixture is heated in a double boiler until the honey gets saturated with fragrance and then the buds are strained out. If you are fond of Provenšal desserts try the very sophisticated lavender honey ice cream.

Not all lavenders are good for cooking, most varieties are too harsh and their strong fragrance can overpower foods. Try a sweet and mild variety, like English lavender, Provence or Melissa.

If you have cooking herbs in your garden, you certainly noticed what a difference the fresh ones make in recipes that normally call for dried, and this is true for lavender too.

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