Garden Party Today

ngarden1In just a few minutes, guests will start arriving for a party set in my garden.

For the last two weeks, I have been tweaking and sprucing up the beds and borders, the patio furniture has a fresh coat of paint and the fountains are spouting clear water with a refreshing sound that not only delights humans, but the many songbirds who visit to splash and drink.

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The Menu

The menu has been given a green thumbs up by my friends and family members.

It is based largely on what is available and fresh from the garden. This includes tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, basil, tarragon, strawberries, celery, garlic, lemon balm, mint and more grown as local as is possible without setting up a tent in the garden.

Entertaining friends with what I grow is a huge part of gardening for me. To be able to share healthy, organic food with friends and family is the joy of gardening.

Here’s what will be served:

Mixed Greens and Pear Salad

1party2Ham and Swiss Quiche with a top crust made from a fan of yellow squash and tomatoes, the first of the season.

The Contessa’s Chicken Tarragon Salad – made with celery and fresh tarragon from the garden

Homemade herb garlic and rosemary butter

Pretty Pink Strawberry and Lemon Cake – the cake is infused with lemon balm and the buttercream frosting blushes with fresh strawberries

Drinks1party4

Basil Lemonade
Lemonade
Iced Tea made with herbs

Decor

The party’s color always starts with one striking piece. This year, it is a bold and beautiful hot pink tablecloth. It is such an upbeat pink that I was nervous to use it at first but now have come to adore the color. It adds pizzazz and screams…”It’s the summer! Where are your flip-flops!”

The patterned paper napkins for the appetizers have that color and I also found pre-folded lime green napkins for the luncheon. They look festive with my botanical plates which all have a different floral pattern.

Finishing Touches

It’s the little things that make a big impact. Drinks will be served with spiraling straws decorated to look like stems with flowers. The “flowers” are made from tiny, fluted muffin paper liners that were the pink color I needed and already made to look like a flower and sepals.

I twisted them around the straw and used floral tape to hold them in place.

The ice cubes each have an edible flower frozen inside. I’m using borage flowers for the pretty blue color, marigold petals, wedges of lime and tiny lemon balm leaves.

And for favors, I have made silly seed packets for everyone to take home and remember this day.

Now, it’s time for the party.

Berry Good Shortcake Using Herbs

shortcake
This is it. The one. The winner for an upcoming garden party dessert. Yum.

While I like the lemon thyme pound cake, it didn’t shout: “Party Dessert.” It said, “Brunch on a Summer Weekend.”

This berry shortcake recipe however, is pretty to look at, tasty to eat and screams “I’m dressed to the nines for this party.”

And with some of the ingredients coming right from the garden, such as lemon balm in the batter, strawberries, blueberries, and sweet woodruff sprigs, this dessert deserves to be a guest of honor at the garden party.

The recipe is one of herbalist Susan Belsinger’s creations. If you love growing herbs, you need her cookbooks. It is as simple as that. They are must-haves for anyone wanting to use the herbs they are growing and perhaps planting a specific herb in order to try one of the recipes in her books.

She is a master at using herbs and edible flowers in the kitchen. Check out her website: http://www.susanbelsinger.com

I can’t tell you how many times I have used her books as my “go-to” guides.

She used strawberries in the following recipe. I added blueberries for more color. We’re talking about a party after all.

You can find Belsinger’s recipe at The Vegetable Gardener website http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/13822/homemade-strawberry-shortcakes-with-herbs-and-whipped-cream. They have a great photo of the strawberry shortcake there.

Accessorizing Donut Seeds

powderedOne more idea:

I looked at the Powdered Sugar donut seeds and wondered, “Would confectioner’s sugar stick?” The answer is “Yes,” and the sugar makes the cereal look more like tiny powdered sugar donuts.

I added cinnamon and sugar to the donut seeds with that name, but – other then smelling nice – it didn’t have much impact on the appearance.

“Extreme” Donut Seeds

ExtremeDS

These donut seeds look pretty…pink and pretty (left image).

But you could take it further by dipping them in royal icing and adding sprinkles (right image).

They came out looking so cute. Because I didn’t want them to move around in the packet and possibly lose sprinkles, I glued them to a scrap of card stock I cut to fit inside the plastic bag. If you do this, test to be sure the “Donut Seeds” are glued in the right place to show through the window.

If only these really grew. Imagine…walking out into the garden in the morning. Coffee in one hand and the other hand free to pick a garden fresh donut.

The kit for all 6 designs is available on Etsy (www.Etsy.com and search “donut seed packets”).

Think of it as the perfect gift for the gardener who has everything. A joke you can share or as favors for garden parties, weddings or birthday parties.

I made six different donut seed packets: Apple Cider, Powdered, Cinnamon Sugar, Black Hole, Chocolate Glazed and Pink Glazed Donut Seeds.

You can buy the Donut Seed Packet Kit for $10. In each kit are 12 Donut Seed packets (two each of six varieties), plus a bonus blank one for your own design, bags to hold the cereal and instructions. You need scissors, glue and cereal.

Want to be part of the Donut Seed Gallery? Donut loving artists who create another seed packet should get in touch in the comments section. We can start a donut seed packet gallery!

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Van Gogh sunflower seeds inspire a garden party for August.

I planted two dozen Van Gogh sunflowers seeds from Renee’s Garden today. The flowers are very reminiscent of the type of sunflowers Vincent Van Gogh painted. Particularly if you look at the painting “Twelve Sunflowers” that he did. And that got me thinking.

Why not throw a garden party for my artist friends in August when the flowers are blooming?

We can have lunch and afterwards everyone can set up their easels in the garden and paint the sunflowers.  A tribute to Van Gogh.