A perfect day for me this time of year starts with a drive south out of the city, a Jesse Winchester rock and roll tune blasting out the windows. I am in a very good mood because I am making yet another trip to the garden centre for another plant specimen, a variety of bush or tree that will have been analyzed to death. How big does it grow? How much sun does it need? Where will it go? The re-design of the back garden, triggered when a large diseased maple tree was taken down last fall, is well underway. I finally have more sun to play with.
So far I have planted the following this spring: a Maypole Colonnade flowering crab, the kind that grow up rather than out in a spread; a Salix Hakuro Nishiki dappled willow standard; a weeping larch; a cute little Bailcarol spirea; a Spring Delight Japanese maple; and a Black Lace Elderberry. Still in its pot is a weeping Japanese Katsura tree which will go in the front garden once I have pulled out two underperforming cedars and a disfigured sumac that didn’t live up to expectations. Lots to do, but an afternoon spent mucking in the dirt, creating a beautiful, soothing, reflective space, is one of the most rewarding things a person can do.
I know this is a food blog, and we’ll get to that, but first a detour through my back garden. Here is a peony, photographed just after a rain:
And here is the Spring Delight Japanese maple, next to some Japanese grass:
Here is the dappled willow:
And here is a pot of flowers on the deck.
When I am finished all this planting, I am tired and hot and my muscles are aching. Time for a refreshing drink, and it’s Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Lemonade to the rescue. I used 6 tablespoons of sugar instead of 8 and it was just the way I like it, not too sweet. This recipe makes more strawberry puree than you will need; the leftovers can be poured over vanilla ice cream, mixed into plain yogurt or added to a smoothie.
- 1 pint strawberries
- 6-8 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
- 8 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Seltzer water
- Puree the strawberries and 2 teaspoons sugar in a blender. Set out 2 glasses, and spoon 3 tablespoons of the resulting strawberry puree, 4 tablespoons sugar, and 4 tablespoons lemon juice into each glass. Stir the lemonade, and add ice. Top off the glasses with seltzer water. Add more sugar if desired.
- Serves: 2