This is the first summer that our walkway has been paved with blue flagstone. This time last summer, half a dozen teenagers and I were digging up the whole front yard, in attempt to replace my weed ridden grass with new sod.
Recently, a gentleman on my tour taught me that, with its roots running deep, Bermuda grass is the most resistant to fungus. It is now happily taking over my lawn. On either side of the flagstone walkway are the wide flower beds filled with the smiling faces of my zinnias, planted from seed. They gaze brightly up at me as if in thanks for the gift of life and the opportunity to bloom, like my children. They provide wonderful cuttings for my vert de gris pedestal bowl centered on the long dinner table covered in Irish linen.
My hanging baskets and window boxes are now filled with cascading white vinca and dianthus. The simplicity of white framed by the dark green, fig vine covered columns is a cool, icey refreshment from the colorful zinnia garden walkway.
My herb garden is flourishing around the “citrus grove”. Come get all the Confederate mint you may want, which came from the Old Confederate Home in Charleston about 25 years ago and is the sweetest mint I know, perfect with our Charleston grown tea and in tabouli salad with local cucumbers and tomatoes. As a special classic summer drink, make a mint syrup with it and serve it in a Mint Julep or in iced tea made from the Charleston Tea Plantation’s American Classic. Thyme and lemon thyme are doing well along with lemon balm and chives and oregano and basil. Yesterday we had baby eggplant rounds with homemade pesto, for which I have a receipt in Charleston Party Receipts, our 3rd Jr. League cookbook. Charleston Receipts was the first Jr. League cookbook in the country in 1950. I am supplementing my home grown edibles with a once a week box delivery from John’s Island’s Rosebank Farm of their produce.
I have been making the best cobbler using our South Carolina peaches and blueberries grown by our friend, Dr. Randy Bradham, a WWII veteran, whose Sweet Blues farm we picked in as a family, always the highlight of July until the figs come on. The secret to my cobbler’s success is not to stir the berries, which you pour on top of the batter made with rich, cream filled milk, ours from grass fed SC Jersey cows at Peeler Farm. It forms a crust that envelopes the berries. The other secret is to add a grated nutmeg and a zested lemon or lime to the batter, which you pour into a deep baking dish in which you have melted a stick of butter. Do not stir batter and butter either. With home made peach iced cream, our first Sweet Blues iced cream, peach and blueberry cobblers, and canning the last of the calamondin marmalade, my kitchen has been a war zone as usual between tours.
I cannot wait to share these family favorite tastes of summer with you at lunch after a morning tour together. Come quick and in time for all the above and for the figs, too, which are just starting to ripen in our back garden. My family will also be going out to one of our Sea Islands, Wadmalaw Island, to Fred Sosnowski’s ancient fig tree on the river at Rockville, another annual rite of summer pilgrimage. The first weekend of August is the Rockville Regatta, where my husband of 22 years and I met on my father’s sailboat, the Mobjack.
I hope to meet you soon. I have enjoyed and learned so much from new friends I have made on my tour.–Laura
PS It is best to call me for a reservation as I am so busy cooking and touring and picking and gardening that I rarely get to the computer: 843-577-5896. (I need to include swimming and boating to my list of summer occupations, too.) I hope you can pull away and visit me in Charleston soon.