Garden roses, here in California, have a much longer season so we can enjoy blooms nearly the year round. From one perfect rose to a mixed bouquet of every color in the garden, roses are one of the easiest, most striking and long-lasting cut flowers. Cutting stems longer than needed, cutting at an angle with sharp shears, trimming all foliage below the water line will all help your roses last in their chosen vases. Seen above, our favorite Lenox vase is a perennial favorite for many long-stemmed flowers.
As with vegetable gardening, I like to plant what I like to eat: I plant many different roses, lilacs, and flowering shrubs because they will provide cut flowers that bring nature into the house.
For the large tea receptions, like those we do for Hidden Valley String Orchestra, I like to fill my tall samovar with branches and big flowers.
All white flowers add a formal touch to these arrangements in vintage silver sugar bowls. Wrapped in cellophane, the flowers were transported to the tea party without incident. They worked beautifully with the hostesses’ own silver pieces and fit in nicely with the Victorian décor and period wallpaper.
For those of us who can’t get enough of the garden, we have a deliciously springy tea party menu which you can peruse here:
Honeybee Tea in the Garden Menu
This lightly lavender scented shortbread recipe is one of the featured recipes from our honeybee tea menu and can be enjoyed any time of year.
These delicately flavored Shortbread Fingers remind us of the simple joy of a warm afternoon in the garden. If you have fresh lavender flowers, use them, but dried lavender flowers will also work to flavor these elegant little cookies. This recipe can be doubled if you would like an extra supply for future tea gatherings in the garden, even if you and the bees are the only guests. You can also dress these sweet little treats up with our Lemon Lavender Glaze.
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup flour, plus more for rolling the Shortbread
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried or ½ teaspoon fresh culinary lavender, crushed
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest, optional
- 2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling
Special equipment: small bowl, large mixing bowl, electric mixer, citrus zester, sieve or flour sifter, rubber spatula, rolling pin, sharp knife, parchment-lined baking sheet, fork, wire rack, waxed paper, metal cookie box for storage
Makes: approximately 15 (1 ½” x 3”) Shortbread Fingers: This recipe can be doubled to make 30 bars.
- Finely crush the lavender flowers and place them in a small bowl. Add the lemon zest, if you are using it, and mix together. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt over the bowl, and mix the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar, just until incorporated.
- Sprinkle the lavender and lemon zest over the Shortbread batter and fold in with a rubber spatula to distribute evenly. Knead lightly in the bowl about 5 times to solidify the dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to an 8” x 8” square. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the dough. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 ½” x 3” fingers. Carefully place the Shortbread Fingers, evenly spaced, on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick each Shortbread 3 or 4 times with the tines of a fork.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the bottoms just start to turn a light golden. Cool on a wire rack. When cool, store in a waxed paper lined metal cookie box for up to 1 week, or serve the day they are baked.
- 1 tablespoon lavender-colored sparkling sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon dried culinary lavender, finely ground or crushed
- 1 to 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- In a small bowl, stir together the sparkling sugar and crushed lavender. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, stir together enough powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a smooth, thick glaze.
- Spread the glaze over the Shortbread Fingers, letting a little glaze drip over the edges, if desired.