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Simple Pleasures of the Garden: Stories, Recipes, and Crafts from the Abundant Earth [NOOK Book]


Simple Pleasures of the Garden is a treasure chest of tips, how-to's, stories, and trade secrets gathered together in one beautiful book. Organized by season, the hundreds of suggestions and recipes present a profusion of ways to celebrate the bounty of the Earth all year round.

Projects include handcrafted lotions and oils, baskets and wreaths, potpourris and floral waters, along with dozens of simple, inexpensive home decorations and ...
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Simple Pleasures of the Garden: Stories, Recipes, and Crafts from the Abundant Earth

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Simple Pleasures of the Garden is a treasure chest of tips, how-to's, stories, and trade secrets gathered together in one beautiful book. Organized by season, the hundreds of suggestions and recipes present a profusion of ways to celebrate the bounty of the Earth all year round.

Projects include handcrafted lotions and oils, baskets and wreaths, potpourris and floral waters, along with dozens of simple, inexpensive home decorations and easy-to-prepare recipes that utilize all of your garden's harvest. From compost tea to confetti corn chowder, Simple Pleasures of the Garden will inspire you to bestow the comforts and charms of your garden on family and friends.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609253523
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
  • Publication date: 4/30/2000
  • Series: Simple Pleasures
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

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Simple Pleasures of the Garden

Stories, Recipes & Crafts from the Abundant Earth

By Susannah Seton

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 1998 Conari Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-352-3



Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world. —Virgil A. Kraft

In the Garden

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings, Stands the lilac-bush tall frowing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green, With many a pointed blossom ringing delicate, with the perfume strong I love, With every leaf a miracle ...

—Walt Whitman

About to Blossom

One of my favorite times in my flower garden is pre-bloom time. The blush on the plant about to bloom starts to glow. It resembles a young girl of that certain age—twelve? thirteen?—just starting to fill out, grow up, straining to show her hidden promise. Then, a shine and dominance as it pushes everything out of the way to say, "Watch out world, here I come!" Tomorrow or the next day, I know it will be soon. Its arms reach out to the warm sun and soft spring rains. Everything surrounding it stays down and low, letting this one have its turn in the sun. I await anxiously for the peak to arrive. Tomorrow?

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.

—W. E. Johns

Signs of Spring

Nature signals the return of spring to each of us in a different way. For some, it is the blooming of a redbud or forsythia; for others, it is the determined daffodil, who is the trumpeter of spring, in bold pre-Easter yellow. For me, it is the dogwood tree, budding up everywhere with pink-infused blossoms of thickest cream. I love that the dogwood is such a democrat, growing anywhere and everywhere, in places where no other such beauty dare show herself.

A man ought to carry himself in the world as an orange tree would if it could walk up and down in the garden, swinging perfume from every little censer it holds up in the air.

—Henry Ward Beecher

Wildflower Meadow

I don't know about you, but I believe a lawn is vastly overrated. It takes a tremendous amount of water, too much labor, and causes vast quantities of chemicals to be dumped into our water supply. So I decided to dig mine up and plant a wildflower meadow instead. It took some work to get going, but within four weeks I had my first bloom. It was a glorious sight for six months and unlike a lawn, virtually maintenance-free. Plus I had an almost endless supply of cut flowers from late spring to late fall.

The tricks are to till the soil in the spring, select a pure wildflower mix (no grass or vermiculite filler) appropriate to your growing area, and blend the seed with four times its volume of fine sand so it will disperse evenly. After you've spread it over the dirt, lay down a layer of loose hay to keep the seeds from blowing away. Usually the mixes are a combination of annuals, biannuals, and perennials. And to keep the annuals going, you have to rough up parts of the soil and reseed just those every year.

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.

—Beverley Nichols

The Way to a Woman's Heart is Through Her Nose

I have always been extremely sensitive to smells. Blessed (or cursed) by a finely tuned sense of smell, I find I am often led around by my nose. I have fallen in love because of the way a man smelled; when I was a child and my parents were away on a trip, I used to steal into their bathroom and smell their robes hanging on the back of the door. One of my favorite books is Perfume, the story of a man so affected by scents he can smell them from hundreds of miles away.

Naturally enough, I am attracted to flowers primarily for their scent. All my roses are chosen for odor—spicy-sweet, musky, peppery—if they don't smell good, I don't want them. My current favorite is a climber called Angel Face. I also love the heady smell of lavender, the spiciness of daffodils, the romance of lilacs and lilies of the valley, and the subtlety of certain bearded irises. I particularly love the elusiveness of fragrance. You catch a scent in the garden and follow your nose to ... where? Now it's here; then it's gone. That's why I love the sweet olive tree that blooms in southern California in early spring. The fragrance is strong in the early evening as you walk down the street, but press your nose against a blossom and the scent diminishes.

My husband, who knows of my fragrant passion, surprised me last spring by planting me a huge patch of multicolored sweet peas and an entire bed of rubrum and Casablanca lilies. Batches of sweet peas perfumed my office throughout the spring. Extremely long-lasting as cut flowers, the lilies bloomed for two solid months during the summer and, all that time, the house was full of their heady scent. I don't think any gift has ever pleased me more.

And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where it comes and goes,

like the warbling of music) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight

than to know what be the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air.

—Francis Bacon

Fragrant Plants

Smell is so individual—I love narcissus, but know many people who can't stand it, and folks wax eloquent about wisteria, the smell of which makes me sick. So in creating a fragrant garden, let your nose be your guide. Here are some suggestions: jasmine, honeysuckle, sweet autumn clematis, mimosa, hosta, stock, evening primrose, nicotana, angel trumpet (especially the white), moonflower, sweet pea, ginger, lily of the valley, peony, and pinks.

Working in the garden gives me something beyond the enjoyment of senses. It gives me a profound feeling of inner peace.

—Ruth Stout

My Primrose Patch

As a young girl, I was particularly taken by a row of primroses my mother had in a border planting. The colors were deep and pure like my favorite crayons—purplish blues, intense red-orange, and buttery yellows. I loved that such beauty came up out of a rather commonplace and cabbagey foliage. When Mom showed me how to carefully separate the "babies" from the established adult primroses, I planted my very own in my favorite mysterious blue in "my" part of the garden. Mom, who ran a small but busy dairy farm, also showed me her secrets of accelerating plant growth, without the blue hormone-filled potions you could buy at the hardware store. (That was cheating in her book.) She would take well "cured" cow dung and mix it into the soil around her plants. I took her cue, and by the next spring I had a prim little row of primroses that had all sprung from the baby I had brought home and transplanted. It was at that point that my mom nodded approvingly and I was pronounced to have a green thumb.

One of the daintiest joys of spring is the falling of soft rain among blossoms.

—Mary Webb

A Flower Bed

I found an old bed in a neighbor's trash. It was too pretty to be thrown away. It had only the foot and headboard. I set them at each end of a row of flowers in one of my gardens. When a passerby asks me why the bed is in the middle of my garden, I reply with, "Haven't you ever heard of a flower bed?" I now have a herb bed too. I'm looking for an old crib to set around my seedlings, and that will be my nursery bed.

The first gathering of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby—how could anything so beautiful be mine?

—Alice B. Toklas

The Boldness of Tulips

I love tulips better than any other spring flower: They are the embodiment of alert cheerfulness and tidy grace, and next to a hyacinth they look like wholesome, freshly scrubbed young girls beside stout ladies whose every movement weights down the air with patchouli. Their faint, delicate scent is refinement itself; and is there anything in the world more charming than the sprightly way they hold up their little faces to the sun? I have heard them called bold and flaunting. But to me they seem modest grace itself, only always on the alert to enjoy life as much as they can and not afraid of looking the sun or anything else above them in the face.

To dig one's own spade into one's own earth! Has life anything better to offer than this?

—Beverley Nichols

The Pleasure of Sound

If you want a more sophisticated sound for your garden than wind chimes normally offer, consider garden bells. They are a set of cup shaped metal bells on wires that come with a base. Like chimes, they peal when blown by the breeze. Unlike chimes, however, the tones change when they are filled with rain, and their sound can be adjusted by bending the wires. Call Woodstock Percussion, (800-422-4463).

And all it lends to the sky is this—A sunbeam giving the air a kiss.

—Harry Kemp, "The Hummingbird"

A Spring Reverie

In the enclosure, the spring flowers are almost too beautiful—a great stretch of foamlike cowslips. As I bend over them, the air is heavy and sweet with their scent, like hay and new milk and the kisses of children, and, further on, a sunlit wonder of chiming daffodils.

Before me are two great rhododendron bushes. Against the dark, broad leaves the blossoms rise, flame-like, tremulous in the still air, and the pear rose loving-cup of a magnolia hands delicately on the grey bough.

May all your weeds be wildflowers.

—Gardening plaque

For Love of Weeds

As I work in my vegetable garden, tenderly planting seedlings of peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes, I suddenly spot the weeds and regretfully rip them out by their roots. Regretfully, because I'm a great fan of weeds. Weeds are the wonder workers of the world. Weeds covered the hellhole of Hiroshima with a living green carpet of hope. Within a year after the volcanic explosion, weeds brightened the miles of volcanic ash around Mount St. Helen's. As I stood in Yellowstone disconsolately peering at a desolate forest of giants blacked by the great fire, my eye fastened on small clumps of green—patches of weeds whispering on the winds, "we will be back."

Rain in spring is as precious as oil.

—Chinese proverb

Surprise Guests

I strive to be an urban gardener but rarely do much better than a pot of basil and a few annuals in my window boxes. However, I discovered a toil-free pleasure in my back patio. Since we live in an older building, there are a bunch of old planters filled with dirt and scruffy remnants of plants. One day I decided to water these planters and was pleasantly rewarded a week or so later with a profusion of mostly weeds but some flowers. One box even yielded a red tulip this spring. Even the weeds are pretty though' and one bunch has tiny orange flowers on spindly branches. All it took was a little time and a little water. I enjoy the daily anticipation as new things reveal themselves, and, besides, it's far prettier than the brown scruffy stuff.

To win the secret of a weed's plain heart.

—James Russell Lowell

Produce for Apartment Dwellers

If you have no space or time for a garden (or are plagued by critters eating your goodies before you get to them), try creating hanging vegetable baskets. According to experts, almost anything can be grown in a basket, but be sure to get compact growing varieties of the vegetables you want. Buy 14-inch diameter wire baskets (16-inch for zucchini or watermelons). It's best to grow one type of vegetable per basket, although a variety of lettuces or herbs will work well together.

Line with sphagnum moss and fill with potting soil. Plant seedlings rather than seeds, and hang the baskets outdoors from patios or rafters where they will get at least four hours of afternoon sun. Avoid overwatering seedlings, but once they become established, be aware you need to feed and water frequently; on the hottest days, they may even need to be watered twice a day! Once seedlings are three weeks old, fertilize every three weeks with an all-purpose soluble fertilizer, but never feed unless the soil is damp.

To be beautiful and to be calm, without mental fear, is the ideal of nature.

—Richard Jefferies

Easy Care Gardening

Too busy to care for a vegetable garden on your own or don't have the room? Consider what 100,000 folks around the United States do—"buy" shares in someone's large garden. All shareholders agree to pay a certain amount per year and, in exchange, get weekly baskets of produce. Depending on where you live, deliveries can be anywhere from twenty–two to fifty–two weeks per year.

Like most good ideas, this one has a name—Community Supported Agriculture—and an organization, CSANA. According to CSANA, shares usually cost between 300 and 600 dollars per year. (Many offer discounts for labor; since the work is shared, no one is overburdened, and there's the added bonus of meeting fellow gardeners you might not otherwise know.) For more information about the 600 farms that belong to CSANA, contact them at (413-528-4374) or e-mail to Their web address is

I am not ... certain that I want to be able to identify all the warblers. There is a charm sometimes in not knowing what or who the singer is.

—Donald Culross Peattie

Remembering Lilacs

I suppose the garden behind my grandparents house was small, but to a four-year-old it seemed immense. The distance from the backdoor to the end of the yard was a journey from the safety of home, across an expanse of grass, around orderly flower beds, and finally to the marvelous wilderness of the tall, old lilac hedge. I discovered that a persistent push would let me enter a cool, green space under the branches of the lilacs. There I daily established my first household, presiding over tea parties for an odd assortment of stuffed animals and the patient family cat.

Now, nearly seven decades later, the heady scent of lilacs takes me back to that garden where I took those first ventures toward independence—though never out of sight of the familiar backdoor.

Unless the soul goes out to meet what we see we do not see it; nothing do we see, not a beetle, not a blade of grass.

—William Henry Hudson

Public Gardening

Longing for a garden but have no place for one? Take advantage of the variety of places that have gardens: zoos, public gardens and parks, cemeteries, college campuses, garden club tours, nurseries and garden centers, or a friend's house. In many cities these days, there are also community gardens and gardening coops in which you can get your hands dirty. Call your parks and recreation department. (All of the above are also great places to get ideas if you do have a garden.)

The only conclusion I have ever reached is that I love all trees, but I am in love with pines.

—Aldo Leopold

Butterfly Haven

If you want to increase the butterfly population in your yard, there's a wide variety of flowers that will attract them, including common yarrow, New York aster, Shasta daisy, coreopsis, horsemint, lavender, rosemary, thyme, butterfly bush, shrubby cinquefoil, common garden petunia, verbena, pincushion flowers, cosmos, zinnia, globe amaranth, purple coneflower, sunflowers, lupine, delphinium. In creating a butterfly-friendly place, consider that they also need wind protection, a quiet place to lay eggs, and water to drink.

If you want to see a butterfly garden before you get started, many botanical societies have them. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian just opened one adjacent to the National Museum of Natural History. Good guides include: The Butterfly Garden by Matthew Tekulsky (Harvard Common Press) or Butterfly Gardening by Xerces Society/Smithsonian Institution (Sierra Club Books).

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest, And the runny blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery, And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

—Walt Whitman

With Family and Friends

All God's pleasures are simple ones; the rapture of a May morning sunshine, the stream blue and green, kind words, benevolent acts, the glow of good humor.

—F. W. Robertson

The Wonders of Wildflowers

My mother is a naturalist at heart. She treasures wildflowers much more than the domesticated plants I adopted as a child. She would take me on wildflower walks and teach me the secret flora of meadow and wood. I learned to identify wild irises, jack-in-the- pulpit, Dutchman's breeches, larkspur, lady's slippers, and dozens of gorgeous and delicate specimens. I wondered at the difference between the small and seemingly rare wildflowers and the big and bold flowers that grew in our garden. The irises especially were in great contrast—wild irises were about four inches high and the irises I started from my aunt's were over two feet tall.

Excerpted from Simple Pleasures of the Garden by Susannah Seton. Copyright © 1998 Conari Press. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Simple Pleasures of the Garden          

Earthly Delights          


In the Garden          

With Family and Friends          

Into the Kitchen          

Beautifying Your Home          

Nourishing Body and Soul          


In the Garden          

With Family and Friends          

Into the Kitchen          

Beautifying Your Home          

Nourishing Body and Soul          


In the Garden          

With Family and Friends          

Into the Kitchen          

Beautifying Your Home          

Nourishing Body and Soul          


In the Garden          

With Family and Friends          

Into the Kitchen          

Beautifying Your Home          

Nourishing Body and Soul          



Resource Guide          

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