Category: Outdoor Living

Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade

lemonde

We’ve had some hot, sweltering days this summer – high temps accompanied with high humidity. A tall, ice-cold glass of Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade is always a welcome treat, especially on days like these.

This recipe is based on my memory of how Mom made lemonade when I was a kid. I remember her using both freshly-squeezed lemon and orange juice. While I like my lemonade tart with just a hint of sweetness, the small addition of orange juice calms the absolute tartness of the lemons just enough to make this summer refresher delicious and thirst quenching.

lemonde

Use simple syrup to make the lemonade – no worries about sugar residue on the bottom of the glass. Make up batches and keep in the refrigerator to have on hand to sweeten all your summer drinks – iced tea, iced coffee, and lemonade.

Watch the video here.

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Old-Fashioned Homemade Lemonade

Quick and easy to make, old-fashioned homemade lemonade is a refreshing pick-me-up on those tropical summer days.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 gallon
  • Category: Beverages

Ingredients

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup simple syrup
Cold water and ice

Garnish

Lemon and/or orange slices, seeded

 

 

 

Instructions

Combine the juices and simple syrup.

Add ice and cold water, stir to blend.

Serve over ice in a tall glass.

Keywords: iced beverage, lemonade, iced drinks

Iced Tea Concentrate

Iced Tea Concentrate

This Iced Tea Concentrate whips up a 1/2 gallon of iced tea in minutes. Make a few batches and refrigerate the concentrate in a Mason jar or other lidded container and use by the cupful to make a ½ gallon batch at a time.

This method is great for unexpected company or large parties. The iced tea concentrate doesn’t take much room in the refrigerator and making additional pitchers takes seconds.

How to Make the Concentrate

Place 1/4 cup loose tea or 4 tea bags in a one-cup measuring jar and pour boiling water to cover. Steep for 4 minutes. Fill a pitcher 1/3 full of ice, pour the tea concentrate over the ice, and fill with cold water. Optional garnish: lemon slices.

Iced Tea Concentrate

There are so many teas to choose from, you’ll never run out of different flavors to experiment with. Also, you can use decaffeinated regular and herbal tea varieties.

Serve simple syrup on the side to allow guests to sweeten, or not, to their taste. Lemon slices or muddled mint can be added for additional flavor.

Iced Tea Concentrate

Be sure to check our our informative tea tasting blogs – green tea and black tea.

Watch the Iced Tea Concentrate video here.
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Iced Tea Concentrate

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 gallon
  • Category: Beverages

Ingredients

¼ cup loose tea
1 cup boiling water

Garnish

Lemon slices, seeded
Muddled mint leaves

 

Instructions

Place the tea or tea bags in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Pour 1 cup boiling water over and let steep 4 minutes.

Strain in a ½ gallon pitcher filled with ice. Press down with the back of a tablespoon to extract all the tea.

Add cold water to fill.

 

Notes

Serve with simple syrup to allow each guest sweeten, or not, to their taste. Simply place a cup or two of sugar in a small sauce with 1/2 cup cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Last several weeks.

Potato Packets

potato packets

Growing up I spent many weekends at my girlfriend Nancy’s family cottage on Honeoye Lake in upstate NY. We frequently grilled on the weekend and Mrs. D (Nancy’s mom) made these delicious individual potato packets to be grilled along with the chicken or steak.

I never forgot about them and started making them for my kids; they loved them. Over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe to include onions and other vegetables and I make them in larger packets.

potato packets

I particularly like red potatoes. Wash and cut into thin slices with the skin on. Thinly slice onion and bell peppers. Cut zucchini in slightly larger chunks; it cooks quickly. Season generously with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss and wrap tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil.

potato packets

Be careful not to puncture the foil, the steam aids in the cooking and the high heat creates a little caramelization.

potato packets

Turn every few minutes for even cooking. Takes about 15 minutes for large packet. Open immediately otherwise the vegetables get soggy and place in a serving bowl.

This is a great summer recipe. Make ahead and keep in the refrigerator. Grill the entire dinner and no pots and pans!

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Potato Packets

Zucchini chunks work well as do thinly sliced bell peppers, but don’t hesitate to add something you enjoy more. The flavors meld together and the potatoes are a wonderful side dish for any grilled meat, fish or poultry!

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 8 portions
  • Category: Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Method: Grilling

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 medium red potatoes, thinly sliced (about ¼-inch)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (about ½-inch)
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into quarters lengthwise and into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried bouquet garni, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to high.
  2. Place two long sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the counter. Pour 1 ½ teaspoons oil in the center of each sheet.
  3. Place the potatoes, onion, pepper and zucchini on top of the oil.
  4. Sprinkle the vegetables with one half each salt, pepper and bouquet garni.
  5. Use the ends of the foil to help you “toss” the vegetables, by sliding back and forth, to coat the ingredients.
  6. Bring the long ends of the foil together, making flattish packets for even cooking, and fold the ends over a couple of times for a tight seal, just as if you were wrapping a sandwich.
  7. Turn and tightly crimp the ends.
  8. Use another sheet to double wrap. Place the sealed side down first, this offers a little protection if you happen to rip the outer layer with your tongs, and repeat the wrapping process.
  9. Place the packets on the preheated grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning every 3 minutes to prevent burning. Use a fork to gently puncture the packet to see if the potatoes are soft.
  10. NOTE: The potatoes primarily steam, but some caramelization will occur if your grill is hot enough.
  11. Remove packets and open carefully, lots of steam is released. Slide the potatoes into a warm serving bowl and scrape any pieces that stick to the bottom of the packet, they’re tasty!

Notes

Prepare the packets in advance, just refrigerate until ready to grill. Cook an extra 3-4 minutes to compensate for the cold temperature.

 

 

 

Licorice Chicken Kabobs

chicken kabobs

I make a roast chicken with tarragon, lemon and garlic that is one of my all-time favorites. I wondered about doing something similar on the grill with kabobs but thought the marinade would need a boost to intensify the licorice flavor. The logical addition seemed to be a licorice liqueur, I used Sambuca. I wondered what to call this recipe, Licorice Chicken Kabobs came to mind and I Googled to see if I was crazy, but lo and behold there are a few licorice chicken recipes out there!

chicken kabobs

I chose  zucchini and yellow summer squash in lieu of the ubiquitous bell peppers. On the first try, the squash pieces were undercooked. The next round I steamed the squash for a few minutes. Please don’t boil; these vegetables have a high water content and get soggy when cooked directly in water.

chicken kabob

The best size is one-half inch slices. If the slices are larger than a half-dollar, cut in half horizontally. The squash I had on hand were of varying sizes, from small to gargantuan, and therefore I had a mix of round and half-moon squash pieces. It worked just fine.

Kabob recipes generally call for one-inch cubes of meat. I find this too small. Timing both the meat and the vegetables on the same skewer is tricky and slightly larger pieces of meat are better. I cut the breast into two-inch pieces. The thighs are thinner and I cut each into four pieces and then doubled up when placing them on the skewer. This worked well in terms of getting both the meat and the vegetable cooked through without drying out the chicken.

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This is not a highly acidic marinade and can be made and applied to the chicken up to a day in advance.

chicken kabobs

To soak or not to soak the wood skewers.

I’ve tried it and it fails miserably. The skewers are thin; they dry out quickly and burn. Keeping a lower temp keeps them from charring up too much and helps you control the cooking of the chicken.

chicken kabobs

I’ve recently seen flat skewers, genius idea, and can’t imagine what took so long for someone to invent them! If all you have are the skinny round ones, double up and the kabobs won’t twirl when you turn them over.

Temperature is very important when grilling kabobs. Yes, you want to get a tasty initial sear on the meat, but these kabobs need a little time on the grill to cook through and remain moist. I started with a hot grill (about 500ºF). As soon as I put the kabobs on the grill, I set the temp to low (I’m using a gas grill) and left the top open. I did get some nice searing, and the chicken was cooked through and moist and the vegetables were tender with good texture, not mushy. I turned the kabobs about every minute or so for about 12 minutes.

Try our macaroni salad with these kabobs!

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Licorice Chicken Kabobs

chicken kabobs

Fire up the grill and skewer yourself a tasty dinner for any night of the week with our Licorice Chicken Kabobs and lots of veggies! While the kabobs rest, raise the heat on the grill and cook some corn on the cob. These are great at room temperature – so pack them up for a picnic.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 6 portions
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grilling

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons licorice liqueur, such as Pernod or Sambuca
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken meat, cut into two-inch pieces
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (two per skewer)
  • 1 small summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (two per skewer)
  • 1 small red onion, quartered and separated (two per skewer)
  • 18 – 21 cherry tomatoes (three per skewer)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the oil, tarragon, liqueur, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.
  2. Toss the chicken pieces in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. This is not an acidic marinade and an overnight soak is okay.
  3. Place the squashes in a steamer basket of salted water, bring to a boil and cook for three to four minutes, until the squash gives a little when poked with a fork.
  4. Drain and rinse with cold water, toss onto a baking sheet lined with paper towel to soak up the water. Place the tomatoes and onion sections on the sheet as well.
  5. Use two, eight-inch wood skewers about a half an inch apart and begin to slide on the meat and veggies. You can do this in any order you like. My preference is have a cherry tomato on each end and in the middle, purely for esthetics. The onion goes on next, place the concave side facing in so it hugs the chicken. After the first piece of chicken, slide on summer squash, more chicken, zucchini, tomato, zucchini, chicken, summer squash, chicken, onion and tomato.
  6. Lay the skewers on a baking sheet and drizzle with any remaining marinade.
  7. Preheat your grill to high. As soon the kabobs are on the grill, set the temp to low and leave the top open. Turn them about every minute or so for about 12 minutes.
  8. Remove to a serving platter, cover and let sit for a few minutes. Long enough to grill some corn on the cob, but jack up the heat first!

 

Outdoor Living – August Gardens

We’re nearing the end of the summer season and making every effort to enjoy our outdoor living spaces while we can. The days are becoming a little cooler and dryer, and of course, growing
shorter. The early mornings and late evening sometimes require a sweater. The gardens flourished this year with very little damage from the deer. One of our Beech trees, however, took a beating from the yellow-bellied sapsucker.

My Beech tree.

My Beech tree.

We lost a couple of branches, which saddens me. This is the tree I see first thing upon wakening each morning. Interestingly, the tree leaves turn brown in the fall, but remain on the tree until spring. They continue to flutter and entertain, hold snow and bear up under some pretty harsh conditions. Our arborist is coming to wrap the trunk and limbs in wire to prevent further damage next spring. I hope it works.

Notice the rows where the saplings pecked for sap. Above you can see one of the two limbs we lost :-)

Notice the rows where the saplings pecked for sap. Above you can see one of the two limbs we lost 🙂

We’ve gone about 85% organic on the property recently. It’s an experiment at this point. Dennis from Bren Landscaping and Masonry is using a citrus oil (and I’m sure there’s clove oil in there, too, a very distinct aroma) to spot spray the weeds. It kills them within an hour. What we’re interested in finding out is if it goes all the way to the roots.

Weeds treated with the organic spray.

Weeds treated with the organic spray.

Lacy went nuts over the spray and rolled and rolled in it. The aroma is extremely intense. I think she regretted her decision, because as we walked the property discussing other issues, she started rolling in the green grass seemingly to rid herself of the smell. She got a bath as soon as we went in and she has never rolled in the spray again!

Lacy

Lacy rolling in the grass to rid herself of the citrus oil!

 

Lacy

Lacy

I’ve also consulted with Almstead Tree & Shrub Care about going organic. We had a good discussion and there a couple of areas that he can’t guarantee that serious damage won’t be done to our pines (deer spray) and our wild apple tree (some kind of bugs) without a traditional spray. These sprayings occur very early (crab apple tree) and very late in the season (deer spray – protecting about 40 pine trees). I worry less about the dog in the grass at this time of year because our outdoor time is less in the yard and more at the park for walks. Also the pool has been winterized.

 

Crabapple tree that requires a non-organic spray.

Crabapple tree that requires a non-organic spray.

I made the choice because the dog, our dear little Lacy, recently had a growth removed from her chest that was cancerous. Fortunately, they got clean margins and she’s okay. Also, when I swim, I get water in my eyes and mouth and it just seems a prudent thing to do.

We have a huge responsibility to keep the grounds healthy. We’ve spent lots of time and money to bring it to its current magnificent condition and I would be loathe to lose anything. We’re hoping that the plan works and can be tweaked to our advantage as needed.

Some of the 40 pines on the property in the background.

Pool pavilion with some of the 40+ pines we’ve had planted on the property.

Planter speakers for the pool sound system.

Planter speakers for the pool sound system.

Pool and upper gardens.

Pool and upper gardens.

 

Pool garden left side.

Pool garden left side.

 

Front garden under master bedroom.

Front garden under master bedroom.

 

Driveway and stairs to the front entrance.

Driveway and stairs to the front entrance.

 

Burgundy-colored hydrangea.

Burgundy-colored hydrangea.

 

Backyard Garden at the Master Bedroom

Backyard Garden at the Master Bedroom

Backyard Rock Garden to the Left

Backyard rock garden to the left.

 

Backyard rock garden to the right.

Backyard rock garden to the right.

Outdoor Living – July

Selfishly, I was glad the weather wasn’t so great while we were away. I didn’t feel I missed so much of our outdoor living time, which is so limited here in the Northeast. I guess I paid for my
selfishness, because the 4th was relatively cool and rainy, followed by heat and humidity that was just plain unpleasant and then yesterday I sat on the porch wrapped in a blanket!

Today is a glorious summer day; mid-80s, low humidity, sunny and gorgeous. I finally put the pillows out on the pool furniture. Last week Paivi and Julie came and planted the annuals in the pots around the pool house and along side the pool. They add so much to the ambience of the outdoor living space. Three of these Palermo woven planters from Frontgate, which have a tropical look to them, go along the right side of the pool.

Three Palermo woven planters with annuals run the length of the pool.

We have stereo system built into the pool house. In addition to the speakers in the “rafters,” these nifty speakers are also planters – the sound comes from the bottom. They not only sound great, but look great.

outdoor speakers/planters

Outdoor speakers for the pool/poolhouse.

We’re ready for swimming, sunbathing, lawn darts, croquet or bocci ball!

Pool area

And, lounging around with friends, or just hanging with my little buddy, Lacy (9-year old Min Pin), and soaking up the beauty around us!

Pool house

And, of course, dining al fresco!

Dining al fresco

All of the gardens are filling in and so far, the deer seem to be doing minimal damage. I was concerned because it was so cold and the snow lasted a long time, which usually means that the deer are starving by spring. So far so good….

Rock garden to the left.

Rock garden to the left.

Backyard garden

Rock garden to the right

The Hydrangeas are doing spectacularly well this year after last year’s fiasco – they never bloomed. I can’t believe the size of these white ones. I’m picking some later for the dinner table, which usually causes me some angst. I feel if I pick them the bush will look barren, but that can’t possibly be the case. They’re bountiful as well as magnificent!

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Look at the size of this blossom!

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My first clippings ever from the gardens!

My first clippings ever from the gardens!

This hydrangea bush is an enigma. I’ve never seen one bloom both blue and pink before. In previous years, it’s always been blue; and the pink seems unusually pink. I know that the acidity of the soil has something to do with the color, but I can’t imagine how this bush came to bloom in multicolor. But, I’m loving it!

Multicolored Hydragena

The entire weekend is supposed to be like today and I look forward to enjoying every moment and taking in the beautiful landscaping designed and maintained by Bren Landscaping and Masonry.

Macaroni Salad

In June, we visited my brother, Tom, his daughter, Rebecca and her family (husband Dominic, daughters Emma – 4 1/2 and Marla – 2 1/2). The first day we spent at Rebecca’s in Malsch. We
made up for the language differences with the little girls with a variety of activities, including making a clay picture. See the snails in the lower right-hand corner and stay tuned!

Art project with Emma and Marla.

Art project with Emma and Marla.

Rebecca made a delicious angel food cake covered in vanilla pastry cream with handpicked strawberries. The strawberries were deep red, sweet, juicy and full of flavor. As usual, we had this in the afternoon before dinner. This seems to be a tradition, because we had ice cream on Saturday before dinner. Dominic made a mixed grill of wursts, pork belly and chicken and we had a variety of  salads for dinner. It was a great day and a great reintroduction to the little ones after 22 months!

The next two days we spent at Tom’s. He has a spectacular yard, great for picnicking and he and I love to cook together. We especially like to cook some of the favorite things from our childhood. Macaroni salad was a staple of our family’s summer eating. We had it at home for dinner or lunch, or for picnics at the lake or at the various parks where we went hiking. Over the years, Mom became a bit of a “health trend” follower and the mayo went to light mayo or some other concoction. Regular macaroni became whole-wheat pasta. It just wasn’t the same. But Tom and I make it the traditional way. We also made potato salad and three-bean salad, also family favorites.

Potato salad, macaroni salad and three-bean salad.

Potato salad, macaroni salad and three-bean salad.

He picked me up at 9:15 am on a Saturday and we shopped at the Real, a large grocery, variety store (they sell everything like a Costco or Sam’s Club with no fee). The meat, fish, cheese, cold cuts and produce were amazing. We got sausages, steaks and pork spareribs for the weekend, because stores aren’t open on Sundays we stocked up and bought all the fixings for our favorite three salads.

We made a quick stop at a local farmer’s market that sells vegetables, fruit and plantings for your garden. Look how beautiful these “party” tomatoes are. I love that they call cherry tomatoes party tomatoes!

A small Karlsruhe farmers market - party tomatoes!

A small Karlsruhe farmers market – party tomatoes!

 

A small Karlsruhe farmers market.

A small Karlsruhe farmers market – very tender salad lettuce.

 

A small Karlsruhe farmers market - fragrant strawberries.

A small Karlsruhe farmers market – fragrant strawberries.

We spent the morning cooking and then he left to get my girls, who chose to sleep in, and a few last minute items. In the meantime, I grated these carrot-like radishes that he uses to make a raw tuna appetizer. I like to place the tuna on a cucumber slice, dab a little soy sauce over, add some horseradish sauce and top it off with the shaved radish. Delicious!

Radish.

Radish – never saw one like this before; it’s quite spicy.

 

Shredded radish.

Shredded radish

The weather cooperated nicely on Saturday and Sunday and we were able to sit in his yard, barbecue, and hang out all afternoon. The cherries and raspberries are in season and we picked and ate them throughout the day.

Fresh picked raspberries and cherries.

Fresh picked raspberries and cherries.

The little ones entertained us by searching the garden for schnecke (snails or more like slugs in this case). They became enamored with snails on their recent vacation to Mallorca. I much preferred their gifts of flowers and fruit to the schnecke!

The girls admiring their new "pets."

The girls admiring their new “pets.”

Marla apparently felt that the schencke could use some beautifying and I couldn’t agree more!

Beautified schnecke!

Beautified schnecke!

We also managed to get in a couple of visits to the Der Vogel, the artisan brewery that’s attached to our hotel.  They make an unfiltered Pils that I really like and the specialty beer was Hefeweizen. Tom picked up large take-out bottles for both days to quench our thirst and wash down all his delicious food. We also made it a point one day to have obadtza, a Bavarian cheese spread made of brie and butter, topped with onion rings and a sprinkle of paprika.

Obadtza!

Obadtza!

We like to spread it on those big fat salted pretzels. It’s outrageously delicious and something I’m glad I don’t have easy access to.

On Saturday night, on the way back to the hotel, we stopped off at Bistro Kiwi  This is owned by Stefan, a friend of my brother.

Stefan at Bistro Kiwi

Stefan at Bistro Kiwi

Stefan is a generous host and in addition to the beers we ordered, he comped us a couple of “Jackie’s neat” (Jack Daniels) and shared with us one of his homemade pepperoni wursts. It was delicious and he had Tom take the rest home for later. We definitely had more on Sunday. It was a very special and generous treat. Thank you Stefan!

Stefan's homemade pepperoni wurst.

Stefan’s homemade pepperoni wurst.

As always, the trip comes to an end too quickly. We had a great time in Karlsruhe and look forward to visiting next year for my niece’s 40th birthday and see my two little angels who change too much between visits.

 

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Macaroni Salad

Rinse the macaroni briefly to cool, it should still be warm. Dress immediately with the vinaigrette. The warm macaroni absorbs the flavors better than cold.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 26 mins
  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Category: Salad

Ingredients

  • Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard, spicy is good too
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Salad
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to packaging instructions
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/3 cup minced celery
  • 1/3 cup diced seeded cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup grated carrots
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus more as needed later

Instructions

  1. Vinaigrette
  2. Combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a jar. Close and shake.
  3. Salad
  4. Briefly rinse the macaroni under cold water. It should still be warm. Add to the onion, celery, cucumbers and carrots in a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss. Let this absorb for 15 minutes. Add mayonnaise and chill for at least two hours. Add more mayonnaise before serving to moisten as needed.

 

The Gardens

The gardens continue to blossom and delight the senses. Outdoor living can’t get any better when you’re surrounded by such beauty. There’s been a mini drought in our area and the recent rains were welcome.
I was late getting the sprinkler system open, but things are greening up nicely.

The tree experts were here to do an inspection the other day and we have two oaks that are stressed. They think the roots were disturbed by the retaining walls we built around the pool area. To remedy this they’ll remove the grass around the base of the trunk, which competes for water, and do a little digging around to give them more room. I hate the thought of losing such beautiful trees and hope this resolves the problem.

Stressed Oaks

Stressed Oaks

The rhododendrons are in full bloom.

Purple Rhododendrons

Purple Rhododendrons

And, the azaleas are bursting forth.

Baby Pink Azaleas

Baby Pink Azaleas

This little mugo pine has taken a beating over the last few years. We had an October snowfall that flattened it one year and again the next year with more heavy wet snow. I was sure we’d lost it, but this year it seems to have regained it fullness and has new growth!

Mugo Pine

Mugo Pine

The back rock gardens I think we should call it the boulder gardens is my view from the porch. The tall grasses fill in and give movement to the garden,

Back Garden with the grasses emerging

Back Garden with the grasses emerging

and the continuous colors are a joy to behold.

Back "boulder" garden

Back “boulder” garden

 

Spring Has Sprung!

The days are warming up and the sun is shining on consecutive days — hurray! The Bren Landscaping crew were here Friday and Saturday mowing the lawn and laying rich dark chocolate
sweet peat throughout the gardens. The colors are eye-popping.

I love the vibrant colors of spring, the yellow daffodils and forsythia, the pink and white of the magnolia tree. Purple hyacinths and the green backdrop of the revived lawn is pure perfection. Here’s a peek at our gardens as they come back to life.

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This garden in the middle of the circle driveway is one of my favorites. The rock was picked especially for sitting on and taking in the views.

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This is the backyard garden. More rocks (big fan of big rocks!!) and it flowers continuously throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Here are before and after pictures – what a difference that sweet peat makes!

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I took this picture (above) Friday. The picture below on Saturday after the sprucing up.

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I’ve also included some shots of the masonry work on the property. The tiered wall down to the pool is just magnificent and the garden path to the stairs is lined with stone. All the stone you see came from our property!

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And of course, no outdoor living space is complete without a fire pit.

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Happy Spring Everyone!

Guest Blogging at Bren Landscaping

Side Yard

My friend Dennis Leahy, owner of Bren Landscaping & Masonry Co., and I have been planning throughout the winter for me to do guest blogging on outdoor entertaining on his website. I’ll be
posting pictures on this site of the gardens on my property showing how they evolve over the seasons, which may inspire some you gardeners out there!

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last several years taking on projects that have created what my husband and I refer to as “paradise.” The lot encompasses ten acres, half of which are wetlands. There are several different garden areas and lots of stone walls. The planning of the gardens I left totally up to Bren and their designer Leanna. I have neither knowledge of nor talent for gardening, as a matter of fact, any plant that gets within arms reach of me begins to quiver!

Bren has done a super job of using color, especially using vibrant plants that come out at different times throughout the season, providing constant color. We have a variety of grasses and I love to sit and watch them sway. I always request that they leave them over the winter. They give me something to look at when there is little else but snow.

We scheduled the first post for today having assumed that the spring cleanup would have been done by now. Instead, I’m posting the pictures of our March storms. We tend to be the last customer that Bren does spring cleanup for because our snow lasts and lasts and lasts. Check us out at Bren Landscaping and Masonry Co. We’re really looking forward to getting back outdoors for more than five minutes at a time!