There’s no R in August…

… but we ate them anyway.

oystersThere was a time when oysters were eaten only in the 8 months that contained an R in the name. May, June, July, and August were times we did not consume them in Virginia. Oyster Farming has changed all that in most places, and there’s another fact to consider. New England oysters are grown in colder waters, therefore safer to eat year-round, especially when harvested by reputable sources.

So we found ourselves back at Garnet Hill Mobile Boutique for a community invited spectacular wine and seafood fest. Food was provided by The White Apron and Stonewall Kitchen, all compliments of Garnet Hill.

IMG_5342Lots of nibbles and drinks….

And lots of nice folks…

Today is Garnet Hill Mobile Boutique’s last day. They pack up and head out to the South Street Seaport in New York City for their next event. It’s been fun having them here for upscale retail therapy, art by local artist Jay Schadler, gorgeous florals, yoga, bocce ball, parties, refreshments, kids’ crafts, live music, live radio, and good fun. Thank you Garnet Hill.

Garden Conservancy’s Open Days 2014

Earlier this spring, I was working in the perennial gardens at Rolling Green Nursery, greeting customers and tending to the plants when I met the owners of one of the gardens on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days.  I was already holding 2 tickets for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour of private gardens in Cape Neddick, Maine and was looking forward to unforgettable experiences.

This local tour and many others across the country take place on different days to raise awareness of the Garden Conservancy’s work to preserve extraordinary gardens and to educate and inspire the public by opening private gardens on Open Days. Four remarkable private gardens were open this year. Three homes and fabulous gardens offered panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean with mighty waves beating on craggy shorelines. We saw rock gardens, rose gardens, shade gardens, pool gardens, perennial gardens, pond gardens, vegetable gardens, pergolas, container gardens, and even experienced a young eagle swooping low over our heads and landing in a near tree at one home.

Click on all photos to enlarge:

Awestruck is a good word to describe how we felt about these gardens. And I was very excited to visit the fourth garden, the home of Jonathan King and Jim Stott, founders and owners of Stonewall Kitchen, the two shoppers I encountered strolling through the perennials at Rolling Green Nursery.

We stopped for an early lunch at their business, Stonewall Kitchen, a favorite destination of ours for good food and lovely gardens.

Approaching by foot along a graceful curved drive, we could see that the property was a wonderful blending of home and garden. Hornbeam trees and a cedar pergola acted as a screen in front of the house.

Every inch of the entry garden was filled with delight. A mix of cottage-style gardening in one area and clean lines of formal boxwood with connecting pathways added variety and invited visitors to linger here and enjoy the colors, textures, shapes and function of the different garden beds.

We peeked inside the ‘glass house’ and thought… yes, this would be a lovely addition to our home. Magnificent!

We enjoyed the raised-beds in the vegetable garden supported not with wood, but with granite slabs… then on to the inviting pool area with built-in fire pit, containers overflowing with blooms, and handsome pool house.

But the most fun of all was the poolside Meet & Greet by the owners. Down to earth, personable and friendly, we both enjoyed the hospitality of the hosts… and their sweet pups!

I am always amazed at the generosity of folks who throw open their garden gates for a good cause.  We had a fabulous day exploring the wonders of gardening in Maine.

Wild about Stonewall Kitchen…

When my daughter led me on a shopping/sightseeing tour of Portsmouth in January, little did she know that one tiny store would have a major gastronomic impact my life. Stonewall Kitchen.  I had never purchased their products but with numerous samples in the store, I couldn’t get enough of everything they provided. Each morsel was an epicurean explosion of taste. And then I couldn’t stop buying….

I have purchased goods for me, for guests, and have had them shipped to friends. The dessert sauces over ice cream are wicked. I’ve bought more than I care to admit and declare the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Sauce tough to beat. It is bold and sweet with a hint of salt. How many of those jars have we emptied?

Ahhhhh… the jams. I want to eventually sample them all. The sour cherry and the Strawberry Peach are an explosion of flavor on toast (or on ANYTHING, for that matter!)

Since that fateful day, I have discovered the Home Office, Cafe, Cooking School and fabulous Country Store just across the Maine border in York. I’ve visited twice and brought home a trunk full of garden supplies, salad dressings, mustards, a cookbook, candy, more jams and sauces to sample. They have so many I’ll never taste them all. But being the inquisitive person I am, I am most assuredly going to try.

I’ve driven over to the cafe twice for a delicious breakfast cooked from scratch. It’s wonderful to order your meal, then be able to roam and explore every nook and cranny of the well-stocked shop, sampling new tastes and wander until you are called. Best of all, there’s a cooking school to boot. If I can interest mister gardener, we will certainly take advantage of that when the weather warms a bit.