This Week's Podcast: Relax in the Garden — I Dare You — with C. L. Fornari
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There seem to be a lot of garden books being published today, which is great! I’ve seen several on rooftop farming, naturalistic meadows, heirloom vegetables, public gardens and more.. But there’s only one book that has come to my attention on making an evening garden for the express purpose of rest, relaxation and imbibing. It’s the The Cocktail Hour by C.L. Fornari.
C.L. is a familiar presence in the Boston area and on Cape Cod where she lives and broadcasts her two call-in radio shows: The Garden Lady and GardenLine.
She agrees that we all need books on growing vegetables, and maybe meadows on rooftops, but we need a break from the technology too and especially the smart phone. Stopping to smell the flowers with drink in hand sounds especially nice and perhaps even necessary. The book has recipes for concoctions with and without alcohol, but she writes more about places and plants, and plants with benefits. For example, to stimulate the senses, or as she calls it, “experiencing the elements:” earth, taste, air, smell, sight, sound, fire and water. Plants are listed that invite touch, or white blossoms for the “moonlight garden.” White flowers are often fragrant to attract their pollinators, and lucky for us, fill the air with fragrance. We can all conjure the perfume of gardenia, but C.L. reminded me of my beloved clove currant (Ribes odorata).
Naturally, when you’re talking about the senses, you mention taste, growing ingredients for cocktails and sampling hors d'oeuvre or, as C.L. calls that, “grazing.” She suggests having a cocktail party in the vegetable garden and encouraging guests to snack on snap peas or snipping an herb leaf to smell or taste. And that thought brings us to one of C.L.’s favorites from the herb garden — the surprising parsley Green Lantern Cocktail. Here’s the recipe from The Cocktail Garden: Creating Evening Landscapes for Relaxation and Entertaining:
Puree in a blender:
1 packed cup of parsley
Zest of one lime, finely grated
1 cup cold water
½ cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
Once blended, pour into four tall glasses and add ice cubes. Fill the glasses with mineral water and garnish with a sprig of parsley. The Garden Lady suggests adding 2 ounces of vodka, gin or jalapeno-infused tequila. Add guests, fun and put your feet up.