Creating Shade in Outdoor Spaces

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“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree long ago.”

Warren Buffet

Some seek the sun. I prefer a respite from the sun, yet still spending a lot of time outdoors.   I took shade for granted until neighbors cut down mature trees between our yards and we lost the shade we had designed a patio around.  Overnight, we stopped using this patio which had been a favorite spot for reading and dining next to a peaceful water feature.   It made me sad to be unable to enjoy this beautiful space anymore.  We recently came up with a solution for this dilemma which gave me the idea to write about shade.  More on that later.

Offering shelter from the sun creates cooler, comfier spaces and enhances existing outdoor spaces for maximum enjoyment. It is possible to let the sun shine and enjoy being outdoors without soaking up the damaging UV rays.  Designing pockets of shade is just as important as the plantings in your garden.  Shade also reduces stress on plantings and decreases watering needs.  Here are some ideas to help you create nice shady spots, shielded from harsh rays and sizzling temperatures.

1) Garden Umbrellas

The easiest way to create shade is to add an umbrella over your outdoor table.  Obvious.  Near our dining table we had created an outdoor seating area to lounge and read.  The problem was it could not be enjoyed for 90 percent of the day because it was in full sun.  Enter the off-set, free standing umbrella. I fought my husband on this one.  I thought 2 umbrellas near each other would look tacky.  I thought it was gimmicky to get one of these giant umbrellas with adjustable positioning. Boy, was I wrong.  This seating area is now one of my favorite places to enjoy the garden and entertain. It gets used daily and is shady almost all day long.  To minimize competing umbrellas, we matched their colors.   Our umbrella, a special-order from Home Depot,  came equipped with a canopy-top solar battery that powers a series of mini lights that run along the umbrella’s ribs and cast lovely whimsical star-like lighting at night as an added bonus.

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7 Layer Cauliflower Salad

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With summer entertaining upon us, this is a great make-ahead salad that holds up well on the buffet table.  I first tasted it at a potluck where it was served to rave reviews and the recipe shared with me.  It has great texture, flavor and crunch. I mean, crisp bacon, cheese and cauliflower  all in one bowl.  What’s not to love?  I added cherry tomatoes and substituted blue cheese dressing for mayonnaise in my version and reduced the sugar in half.  Crowd pleaser in a bowl!

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Lemony Rustic Summer Berry Galette

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“All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

—L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

Galettes, also called crostatas, are simple free-form tarts. I love their rustic quality and how no 2 galettes are the same. They hold such artisanal appeal for me and offer a more relaxed approach to dessert.  This berry version gets a triple burst of lemony flavor from a fragrant lemon balm* studded crust and berries tossed in lemon zest and lemon juice.  Any lemon herb could be substituted for the lemon balm. Roll the crust of your choice out on parchment paper so it is easier to transfer it to a baking sheet holding onto the parchment paper edges. The galette will be baked on the same parchment paper.  For the best success, add the berry mixture once the crust has been transferred to a rimmed baking sheet.   Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for a lovely summer dessert.  One of my edges was not quite folded over enough and some of the fruit juices ran.  It was still delicious!  Bake up this simple tart and savor a slice of summer.

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Citrus-Ginger Barbecued Salmon

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This is the recipe to make even non-salmon lovers fall in love.  Salmon fillets are marinated in soy, citrus and ginger then grilled.  The marinade is brought to a boil to thicken and glaze the grilled fish.  Extra glaze can be served on the side.    Add some steamed rice, a vegetable and some sliced scallions and watch those non-salmon lovers gobble this dish right up.  For salmon lovers like myself, it’s just one more delicious way to enjoy a favorite fish.

A whole salmon fillet, grilled on a cedar plank, was glazed with the marinade. Delicious!

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Papaya-Berry Boats

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“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”   A.A. Milne

These papaya-berry boats are one of my favorite summer breakfasts and they could not be easier to make. Simply cut a ripe papaya in half and scoop out its seeds.  Fill the center with your choice of berries.  Sprinkle with lime zest, finely cut on a microplane.  Finish with a squeeze of lime juice and a chiffonade of fresh mint.  I serve them with serrated grapefruit spoons to scoop out the papaya flesh,  right out of the papaya.  You could drizzle with a bit of honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness but I usually enjoy them without.  A dollop of yogurt adds protein.  Yum! Continue reading

Seductive Jardin Majorelle of Marrakech

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Jardin Majorelle is one of Marrakech’s most visited sites.  The 12 acre botanical garden is home to a remarkable collection of cacti and other drought tolerant plants as well as home to 15 bird species endemic to North Africa.

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