Saturday, 24 October 2009

So Much To Do

Isn't Autumn the busiest time? So much to do. Pruning, clearing leaves, mulching, moving tender plants, fleece wrapping some in situ. emptying pots, turning the compost heap etc. etc. etc. Of course all this has to be done in ever shortening daylength and that's before I collect the three billion or so walnuts that practically carpet the gravel parking area.

Along with chestnuts (the tree of which is still occasionally referred to as l'arbre a pain, the bread tree, since at one time everyday bread was necessarily made of chestnut flour) walnuts were once a major part of the diet here in the Perigord. Highly calorific, they were good sustenance for a rural living spent working in the fields. I reckon on picking up enough to sustain a large family of bears through winter.

Of course these days, walnuts and chestnuts are vital ingredients in achieving confectionery perfection.

And then there are all those leaves. This is just the beginning. Soon the car park will disappear under a thick bed of feuilles, dutifully they will be raked, piled up and covered with a black plastic sheet. Left for a year or so, the result is top notch leaf mould. Veritable black gold.

This stuff is alive. As soon as we get 'killing' frosts and I can get to all the beds I'll spread this with abandon.

Talking of living things, my compost bins are a little depleted right now, but then over the coming weeks there will be plenty with which to fill them.

Another Autumn freebie I've been collecting are pine needles. The woods around here are full of pine and I have no doubt that the French probably think I'm just an insane Englishman raking these up, but I intend to try them as a mulch as I've heard good reports and Phillip over at Dirt Therapy thinks they're very pleasing on the eye.

This is also the time of year that I tend to get any outdoor repairs and DIY done. I'm currently rebuilding the steps that lead from the carpark using reclaimed stone. Building them is the easy part, finding the stone is another story. I must have scrutinised every inch of the grounds at Le Banquet trying to find suitable pieces. Each and every one has to be jet washed and many 'dressed' with a hammer and cold chisel but they should look nice when eventually finished. Anyway, I'll save this for anther post when the project is complete.

Oh, and did I mention all those leaves? Of course I did.

Friday, 9 October 2009


Finally the garden becomes more convinced that this is in fact October and Summer has past.

They've been a long time turning, but both the Virginia Creeper and the Sumac trees are starting to 'flush'. It all seems later this year. I know the reduction in daylight plays it part, but the unseasonably warm start to the month appears to have held things back a little.

It's been so mild in fact, that Karen and I sat outside with friends on the terrace until 1a.m. on Monday night, not usual at this time of year but hey, we profit from this kind weather known as a Spanish 'plume', an airmass with a long southerly track, it's origins in North Africa and which now bathes this corner of south west France.

This is the latest addition to the garden. Malus Evereste, a beautiful crab apple. The fruits look stunning and by all accounts the blossom is really something.

I've taken every effort to give it the best start possible, digging a hole twice the width of the tub and quite a bit deeper, shovelling in loads of compost and a good handfull or two of blood and bone which you can see pictured below

I'm so pleased with this tree, I wish it would reach maturity in say, a season but, patience is a virtue, right?

This rose shouldn't be here. It struggled for the first couple of years and I thought it was simply going to expire. Amazingly it's put on loads of healthy growth this year. I say amazing as I did my level best to neglect it. I planted it to replace an old rose that died in exactly the same spot. Little heed was taken about replant sickness and little ammendment was made to the soil at time of planting. To add insult to injury, I thought it was called 'Danse du Feu' but actually it's closer in appearance to 'Danse des Sylphes' though the bloom colour is a darker red.

Finally, the rougest of the rouge, dahlia 'bishop of llandaff' which has bloomed better in a pot than it ever did in the ground.