Weeding can be relaxing because it’s so mindless but there are times when it’s just another chore to be done (or ignored.) People whose gardens are impressive enough to be included on large-scale, organized tours probably don’t weed themselves because their grounds are too extensive.
On such a tour, the first garden we visited was very traditional with masses of beautiful perennials, vegetables, and a terrific chicken coop housing six busy hens and a little door where the eggs are collected.
Ah but the second garden! This one had masses of ironwork including the frame of a grape arbor and eight “water features” with spouting children, turtles, frogs and more.
There is a putting green and a lawn bowls area next to an “Alice” garden with huge chess pieces and statues of Alice and the White Rabbit. One area is a checkerboard alternating plants. A dry river bed crafted of stones leads to a pagoda; elsewhere, there are cacti, olive, banana and lemon trees—just what you think of in Vermont! The “program” (no kidding) lists not only the staff but also the many suppliers of metal, irrigation tools, tractors and other equipment. The whole experience is truly one of a kind.
Later, we returned home where we ate this simple appetizer to stave off hunger pangs before a late dinner.
Tomato and Ricotta Toasts
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Red pepper flakes, thyme, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar
Ricotta cheese (fresh would be nice but I used a supermarket brand)
Preheat oven to 325. Put tomatoes in a pan and drizzle with olive oil (about 2 Tbls.) Sprinkle with the red pepper, thyme, vinegar and brown sugar—roughly 1 Tsp of each
Bake tomatoes for about 25 minutes, turn and bake another 20 minutes or so—the idea is to have them melt down and start to caramelize. (Do this way ahead of time. Either take out of fridge to bring to room temperature or nuke briefly when ready to serve.)
Cut the bread into smallish slices and toast. When done, slather with the ricotta and top with the tomatoes, about 3 halves per slices. (You will have tomatoes left over; save and repeat the process another time.) You could, I suppose, garnish the plate with weeds but parsley also works as does nothing.