Garden Lifestyle

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Every year, the cycle of the seasons rolls around and we look forward to June 21st as we celebrate the Summer Solstice, which officially signals the first day of summer.

  • The vegetable garden is looking good on this summer solstice--weeded and mulched--still harvesting lots of greens, alliums and herbs. Anticipating the ripening of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cukes, beans and more! Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Garlic is about to be harvested in the next few weeks as the first few have fallen over. Been enjoying the scapes in vinaigrettes, salsa verde, salads, egg dishes and with all sorts of vegetables and pasta.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Nettle joy--I've been eating nettles; letting some go to seed so I can make my Nettle Seed Gomasio!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • A faery portal... into a secret garden of variegated sage and 'Provencal' thyme. (A gift from my daughter Cady--the fairies in Maryland open and close the door all night long and they like to slam it just like you used to--thanks Cade!)
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • One of many fairy gardens in the yard with some miniature sedums and creeping thyme, trellis, garden bench and birdbath.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • I could not resist this greenman tree for the fairy garden. Of course, it is a great gathering place for the wee folk--I do believe that they dance around it.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Just-harvested arnica flowers will be wilted for oil--petals of gold!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Wilted arnica flowers infusing in olive oil will be strained in a few weeks and used as a rub for bruises and aching muscles and joints. I like making and using the oil rather than buying the gel or cream--it soaks in much better--and of course the best medicine is from your own backyard!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger

Today’s 365 Tao, Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao reads “The summer solstice is the time of greatest light. It is a day of enormous power. The whole planet is turned fully to the brilliance of the sun.”

Every year, the cycle of the seasons rolls around and we look forward to June 21st as we celebrate the Summer Solstice, which officially signals the first day of summer. The sun reaches its zenith in the sky; it is the day of longest light and the shortest night. In Ireland it is midway between the seasonal celebrations of Bealtaine and Lughnasa.

In today’s newsletter from Brigit’s Garden (perhaps my most favorite garden in all of Ireland, it recommends that the summer solstice “is a time for lighting bonfires, leaving gifts for the fairies in your Garden and ripening and harvesting crops.”

If you aren’t able to have a bonfire, then perhaps you might grill out this evening–sit around a fire pit or chimera–or at least burn some candles. Grilled vegetables, meat, fish or fowl are wonderful accompanied by a green herb sauce made from cultivated and wild weeds gathered from the garden. (/item/63498/salsa-verde-with-wild-weeds) With all of the seasonal salad greens and herbs and edible flowers, I prepare a huge festive salad to go with the grilled entrée.

As far as the fairies are concerned–I entertain them throughout the year–they have quite a few of their own gardens here. And I hang out shiny things for them throughout the season, which often go missing, so I know that they are about.

I have been gathering late spring and early summer herbs and flowers as they ripen and have been drying them, making herb butters, and infusing them in oil. Some will go into the kitchen pantry or freezer, while others will be used in the apothecary for salves and other medicinal formulas.

In addition, Brigit’s newsletter suggests: “It is also a time when the spiritual, which animates and weaves through nature, is revealed. It is at this time of year, the perceptive person will take a moment to look inwards and strengthen resolve as we begin to head towards the darker months.”

I will reflect today on our Mother Earth, the pull of the sun and moon and how it affects our growing season and the plants that we lovingly tend. I am so happy to be a gardener–without the sun’s radiant energy we would not have plants-so today I give thanks for the light, the warmth and the abundance of the season.

According to the Brigit’s Garden web site, here are some Summer Solstice traditions: “The Summer Solstice is a time for lighting fires, especially on hillsides, leaving gifts for the fairies in your Garden, making a flower crown and harvesting wild herbs for syrups, meads, salads and teas. Herbs particularly abundant in the hedgerows right now include elderflower (make a cordial), St Johnswort (infuse the flowers in olive oil for a healing ointment), marjoram (add to your savory dishes), nettles (drink me!) and wild rose (add to your Summer salads).”

How will you celebrate the Summer Solstice?

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