I enter the secret garden and the street sounds slip away behind me, replaced by robins warbling on this warm spring day. The sun warms my back as I stroll its secluded paths.
The Goodstay Garden is among the oldest in Delaware, planted in the 1850’s along colonial designs,. After languishing for many years, it was lovingly transformed by Ellen DuPont when she received the property from her father T. Coleman DuPont as a wedding present in the 1920’s. She and her husband enhanced the original American Tudor kitchen garden design to feature knot garden “rooms” bursting with tulips, iries, peonies and roses. Today it’s mine alone.
The magnolias are finishing, a few remaining blossoms mingle with tiny shoots of leaves, reaching up toward an impossibly azure sky. I pause to rest on a bench under their shade, taking in beauty surrounding me and the garden’s coolness.
Later, as I move among the garden’s rooms, gravel crunches under my feet. The rooms are partitioned by boxwood hedges so that the view surprises at every turn. In the iris garden, orderly rows of swelling buds are ready to spring into bloom. Already, the scarlet red tulips and soft blue forget me nots are enjoying their afternoon in the sun and dappled shade. The heads of English bluebells dance in the shifting light and breeze. The sundial proclaims, “Let others tell of storms and showers, I count only the sunny hours.” A bee buzzes near my face.
Spring fragrances linger on this warm day. The tangy sent of the boxwoods drifts past as I brush by. In the potager garden, the spring ramps are flourishing, their pungent aroma wafting through that space. It’s a perfect afternoon.
Inspired by the scents, I decide to bake something with ramps, which are wild leeks. Stopping at our local market, I find ramps harvested from nearby forests. They are not grown commercially, so are a rare spring treat. Their deep earthy flavor imparts a peppery taste, and both their pearly white tubers and floppy green leaves can be used.
Enjoy this fleeting treat in a spring tart, its assertive flavor mellowed by baking.
1 sheet of prepared puff pastry, thawed
½ cup baby spinach
8 spring onions
1 cup peas
1 bunch ramps
4 Tbs butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
chopped herbs to taste, salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry till about ¼ inch thick. Place on a sheet tray, crimping up the edges to form a border. Top with aluminum foil weighted down with dry beans. Bake 15 minutes.
While the pastry is baking, cook the peas till just soft, 2-3 minutes. Dice the whites of the spring onions and ramps and sauté in butter. Let the vegetables cool. Tear the spinach and green leaves of the ramps into large pieces.
Stir together the cream, cheese and egg yolk, adding the peas and sautéed onions and ramps.
Lay the spinach and ramp pieces on the puff pastry and top with the cream mixture. Add the chopped herbs, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake the tart for 8-10 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.