Hartley Magazine

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Stop-Time in the Greenhouse—C.L. Fornari suggests a celebration among your plants

meyer lemon tom collinsA wise friend once shared the secret for taking time-crunch stress out of daily living—create a transition space between endeavors. End one thing. Then stop. It could be for five minutes, or fifteen, or even an hour. After that, begin the next task.

That transition time is exactly what award-winning author C.L. Fornari is talking about in her newest bookThe Cocktail Hour Garden—Creating Evening Landscapes for Relaxation and Entertainment. Her book is loaded with suggestions for making our gardens look their best at the time when we can enjoy them. But at the heart of it, C.L. is offering advice for how to foster a ritual that can be inserted between the day’s demands and th
e evening’s undertakings.

“I’m not saying an alcoholic beverage is necessary,” she tells me. “It’s about nourishing the daily habit of putting aside the digital devices, and taking in how we are connected—to those we love and to the natural world.”

C.L. is issuing an invitation to us all. Often, she says, we put time and attention into our garden

and greenhouse, and yet we don’t pause to enjoy them. “Think about starting a cocktail hour ritual in your greenhouse,” she says. “All it takes is a folding bistro table and a couple of chairs—they come in such fun colors. Pull them out and have an instant celebration with your near and dear. Raise a toast to how fortunate you are to be in the special presence of plants.”

C.L. Fornari points out that our very existence depends on plants, yet they are regularly consigned to the background of our lives. “There they are, creating food out of sunlight,” she says. “We’re completely connected to them.”

One of the best plants to grow
under glass? Meyer lemon. (Citrus limon ‘Meyer Improved’) “For twelve months of the year you have fruit, flowers, and fragrance,” says C.L. “And it can go from greenhouse in winter to garden in summer—with the added bonus of fruit for your beverage.”

She offers two tips for successful cultivation. One: keep the soil evenly moist—“Don’t let them go through wet/dry cycles.” Two: keep citrus evenly fed—“About once every two months with an organic fertilizer year round.”

So consider building a stop-time into your busy schedule. As C.L. puts it, “When we make it a necessary part of our day, something is gained that allows us to go deeper in our lives. And that’s a huge gift.”