Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sconeday: the art of gardening

I approach my garden as much for art, as for plants or food.

I started life as an artist, actually making a living at it all through my 20s and even into my children’s toddlerhood. It’s hard to paint with little kids around, however; you cannot pick up a baby when your hands are covered in cadmium yellow. It is poison. You can switch to pastels, but then the baby is always Technicolor and anyway, who knows what’s in those as well? So you switch to charcoal, but now the baby looks like you let him crawl around on the cellar floor, which in fact you do, and oh my god what is he putting in his mouth.

So I switched to gardening. This became my canvas, and it is a living one that changes and grows, literally, year after year. I’ve just spent the morning looking at old photo CDs and seeing how the garden has changed over the years— it is a work that is never done, the god’s canvas. The Painter’s Palette dies and is replaced by Baby's Breath, which dies and is replaced by Pineapple Sage. A “water” garden made from pebbles and rocks gives way to an actual pond; a vegetable garden becomes a mulch patio becomes a vegetable garden; the lilies move from the shade to the sun and take off. The coleus really doesn’t like the sun, but pansies and marigolds make a beautiful statement in the same place.

How can you make your garden into art?
Put other people's art in it: A little bronze frog, a clay Medusa, ceramic luminaries.
Put in your own art: A painted gate, a hand-built trellis made of sticks, plant markers.
Make the layout a canvas: Lead the eye through the garden by laying paths, and interrupting the movement of the eye, or letting the wanderer pause with architectural elements like a special plant, or a bench, a luminary or a sculpture.
Paint with flowers: frame a lupine with a green shrub, or create a themed garden (Shakespearian plants, or a color theme)

The words are interchangeable— I am an artist. I am a gardener.

How have you made your garden into art?

Goat cheese scones
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
>1/4 cup white sugar if you like sweet scones
1/8 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 T goat cheese ( a crumbly one works best)
3/4 cup sour cream (thin with milk) plain or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup honey

½ cup sugared, plumped raisins

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rubbing between your fingers until it has the consistency of corn meal. Cut in the goat cheese. Mix liquids together in a measuring cup. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, and stir gently until well blended. (Overworking the dough results in terrible scones!)

To prepare raisins, plump raisins. Place in a microwaveable container, just cover with water and heat them in the microwave on medium for about 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry, then coat with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon suger. Mix these into the scone batter.

Glaze with yogurt mixed with cinnamon

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop batter by generous spoonfuls. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops are golden brown, not deep brown.


  1. I am so inspired by your scones that I think making scones will be my weekend project.


  2. I'm about 3 scone recipes behind too. Made a wonderful basil-sun dried tomato one yesterday.