A summer of natural delights

Summer… the scent of roses, bare feet in the grass and the sun shining brightly! Time for living at a slower pace, enjoying the holiday, long evenings while watching the sunset, harvesting and a garden in full bloom. Summer offers us many pleasant natural delights and I want to share my favourites…

One of the best things in summer is hanging the laundry outside in the sun and close to the lavender. Covering the bed with sunny dried linnen with a scent of lavender and falling in sleep with its summer perfume in the room. How delightful!

The garden is in full bloom and surprises me with its colors, shapes and scents. I love to add some of this beauty in our home. Every week I pick fresh flowers in the garden and make a bouquet (mostly more than one!) to decorate our table. It’s a simple gesture but it brings so much joy and nature in our home!

During summer I don’t have to do much in the flower garden. The flowers can take care of themselves. I let most flower dry into seedpods so they can spread throughout the garden for next year. It’s so much fun to discover where new plants are growing and I always like the combination with the other flowers. It seems like nature knows best where to let grow its flowers!

This bow we made last year is starting to get covered with yellow honeysuckle and akebia. They both bloom at a different time and have contrasting colors which make them a perfect combination. And in the evening of morning the little tree bench is a perfect place to smell the sweet scent of the honeysuckle! Sitting here and enjoying the garden is one of my other best delights on a summers day.

One of my favourite flowers at the moment in the garden is this soft pink hollyhock. Yes, I know, pink again!!! I don’t know where it came from as I can’t remember planting it somewhere. But they sow themselves out and pop up at a different place every year. The first year they make a rosette of leaves and the second year they’ll bloom.

I’m not sure if this is one of our bees but it looks like one of the bees of our beehives. They are such a hardworking and beautiful creatures. Because of the bad weather in spring we (and all the other beekeepers in Belgium) don’t have spring honey. This week my husband has extracted our honey and we’re very grateful for the many kilos of golden honey that is waiting now to be bottled. Our own honey is a real summer luxury we enjoy all year round!

Here’s another hardworking insect, a hairy bumblebee. Do you notice the tiny white speckles on its hair? That are pollen that stick to his soft hair. I can imagine this bumblebee sometimes have to make special moves to get to the pollen of a flower!

Since I was a child I have hay fever and suffered from the allergic reaction on the pollen. The last 2 years I’ve eaten 2 coffee spoons (one on my bread and one in yogurt) of our own honey every day and since this spring I didn’t had any allergic reaction.

This cure even has an official name, it is called “apitherapy”. By eating local honey one takes in pre-digested pollen. The collected pollen by the bees has a medicinal function because the bees add nectar and enzymes to it. This neutralises en destroys every allergic element and makes of these bee pollen food that positively effects the respiration and prevents allergies, and even helps to cure it. It was such a wonderful thing to discover and to experience!

In summer, I love to work in the veggie garden early in the morning, when it’s still fresh and quiet. It’s a place where I forget the time and get lost in planting and sowing, removing weeds, picking herbs and flowers and watching tiny insects. It’s the perfect place to fully enjoy summer and its natural delights!

The veggie garden on a summer day

The garlic was ready to be harvested. This year we have again more than enough for a whole year! I let the garlic dry outside under the roof of my planting table. You can also dry it inside but then you’ll have to accept your house smells like garlic all the time!

I’ve also harvested one part of our potatoes. The potatoes aren’t that big and numerous but today I will use them for dinner. We had a long period of drought and I think that might be the reason for the smaller potatoes. Hopefully the other part of potatoes will give a bigger harvest…

There’s nothing better than having homegrown potatoes, roasted in the oven with homegrown onions, garlic and herbs, on your plate on a summer evening! Another natural summer delight!

The poppy seedpods I’ve picked are for decorating the packages on my coming market in Delft.

Summer is also the time to harvest and conserve fruit from the garden. We were blessed with tons of fruit. It was almost too much to have everything conserved. In the morning my husband and I pick fresh raspberries, blackcurrants, jostaberries and gooseberries in the garden.

Then it’s my turn to make jam and sirup in the kitchen. It’s hard work but the reward is priceless. For me, it’s definitely one of the most natural summers delights! What is better than tasting fresh jam on our homemade bread or syrup in yogurt?

Summer harvesting of flowers and leaves for making a homemade tea blend. Lady’s mantle and raspberry leaves as a base for floral teas.

Rose petals, cornflower petals, chamomile and mint to add flavour and medicinal benefits to the tea.

Summer time is rose time! Because of the sun our skin will be dryer in summer and making your own cosmetics with roses while offer you a nourishing and healing products. Since a year I make my own lip balm, face cream and body butter and the last two contain rose geranium essential oil and rose water.

Honey and roses smell utterly delightful together and they both have incredibly healing and anti-ageing properties. So why not using them together in a face toner? On a hot summer day it’s really refreshing to use this toner.

Making your own honey and rose toner is very simple and it doesn’t require many ingredients. Just make sure you buy honey, rose water and the essential oil from a good and biological quality. Here’s the recipe for a summery and hydrating toner (150ml):

140 ml warm water (just warm, not boiling, otherwise you’ll kill the good properties of the honey)

1-2 teaspoons rose water

2 teaspoons rose water

10-12 drops rose essential oil or rose geranium oil

for a combination skin: 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar AND 1 teaspoon almond or olive oil

Pour the warm water into a small bowl, add the honey and stir until dissolved. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Decant into a sterilised small spray bottle and leave too cool. Store in a cool, dark place in the fridge forum to 3 months.

It’s nice to have a summer slow living bag ready with essentials like a summer read, a lip balm, a water bottle, sunglasses, a notebook for new ideas, a hat and the little spritz bottle with the homemade rose and honey toner to hydrate one’s face and body. Whenever you go out, you just have to pick up your bag and you’re ready to go for a walk, a picknick or a day out!

I hope you will have sunny, relaxing and beautiful summer days and delight in simple natural pleasures!

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