Saturday, 23 May 2009

Wild thing

I thought I'd mention a few wild plants that grow all around here and are worthy of any cultivated plant found in a garden centre.

Pictured above is Vipers Bugloss Echium vulgare, a beautiful wildflower which has cropped up just under the kitchen window. I'm going to try and collect the seed later in the year and scatter it about, see what happens.

Above is Corydalis Corydalis solida . It seeds itself around freely and its' ferny foliage and nodding flowers are a welcome sight. It loves growing along the buildings here and I'm glad it does!

Iris pseudacorus grows in the margin down by the river. Hopefully this will just continue to multiply.

This wild orchid (at least I think it is) popped up in the long grass. I don't cut an area down in the field for no other reason than it fills with crickets. I love hearing them 'sing'.

Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum grows everywhere. I'm often too hasty to weed it out when actually, it's a really pretty plant. The little pink flowers are very geranium-esque, so they're very 'flavour' of the month with me as I've got 'into' geraniums this year.

I'll not cover ferns again as I mentioned them in my last post, that aside, one thing's for sure, the garden's a better place for all the wild stuff.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Filicarium

Ferns have been a relatively recent discovery for me. In fact it was back in Spring 2006 that I first really appreciated just how beautiful the unfurling fronds can be reaching up from a woodland floor. I'd stumbled across the Filicarium, a small fernery, set in a spinney, tucked away next to a property we'd recently purchased.

Owned by Mr Dubois, who was sometimes referred to as the 'Perigordine fox' on account of his numerous, slightly unorthodox property deals, the Filicarium was something of a hobby for him until he flogged the land at about the same time we'd completed on the house close by.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, prior to the sale of the land, he let me take a few of the ferns and thus gave me a planting answer to some difficult areas that I 'd struggled with here at Le Banquet such as the bed in the photograph above which receives only a few hours of dappled sunlight from May onwards courtesy of the large Lime tree which comes into leaf and shades the ground below.

Already planted with Japanese Anemones, Anemone × hybrida , Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis , Periwinkle, Vinca minor plus a young Hydrangea paniculata (can't remember which one) It's the ferns that bring it to life as the croziers unfurl and bring their slighty exotic structure to the whole area.

I am really taken with the Holly fern, Cyrtomium fortunei with its large leathery fronds.

The crested fronds of the Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata'. I've just noticed the seedlings of the 'Touch me not', Impatiens balfourii in the bottom right hand corner, an enthusiastic self seeder which also grows well (too well) in this border.

I think this is the Male fern, D. filix-mas of which I've got quite a few together with the Golden male fern D. affinis. Some of them are quite large and I think their fronds may attain a metre or so by late summer this year.

Here's some placed in another 'difficult' corner . The wall is dotted with Asplenium trichomanes, the Maiden hair spleenwort which pops up everywhere.

Here's a closer look together with Kenilworth ivy, Cymbalaria Muralis.

Above are the beautiful, leathery fronds of the Hart's tongue fern, Asplenium scolopendrium which grows abundently here and appears just about everywhere from the river bank to cracks in the walls, whether shade or sun; it's everywhere.

Finally, above is the Maidenhair fern, Adiantum just starting to put on new growth. This is actually colonised around my small well which is fed via a source. Not exactly looking its best now, in a month or so it will be covered with fresh, delicate new growth. All you've got to do is stick your head in a well to see it!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Abbaye de Cadouin

There are many plant and flower fairs held at this time of the year in this part of the Dordogne. As ever they're great social events and take place in simply beautiful towns and villages.

The final Marché Aux Fleurs of the season is held around the impressive Abbey at Cadouin. The Romanesque church was consecrated in 1154 and exudes a twelfth-century Cistercian spirituality. The cloisters, built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, provide a magnificent example of flamboyant Gothic architecture.

The Abbey at Cadouin is registered on UNESCO’s World Inheritance list under the heading of Compostelle Paths in France.

Karen and I arrived early that morning as we've a a 1001 things to do at this time of year (our first guests arrive this week) yet we didn't want to miss out on this one.

There were stalls everywhere, under the covered market square, through narrow back streets, the fair just meandered through the ancient lanes.

I'm always taken with the French obsession with Perlagoniums. I'm not the biggest fan although occasionally I'll come across one which I really appreciate. That said, the fact is that this is the biggest selling 'bedding' plant here by a country mile.

The atmosphere was just so relaxed. The speaker system which was rigged up around town played Jazz the whole time. Seriously folks, I was looking at some beautiful Meilland roses whilst being serenaded by the lilting tones of Ellis Regina singing Triste.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Annual Inventory

It's the beginning of May. April's come and gone and as always has the knack of being the quickest month for me. Everything just takes off.

It seems a long time since the dark days back in early March when I started sowing large amounts of flowering annuals with thoughts of Summer and borders which are just brimful!
I 'd put out most of the young plants almost two weeks ago which in all honesty was a little premature, possibly foolhardy, but a risk I felt I should take as I'd inevitably succumbed to impatience, most of my seeds were started too early, simple as that. The ever growing juvenile plants fast approach that stage where they're 'pot' bound which simply doesn't do for any annual. Faced with either 'potting on' on a perceived industrial scale or taking a flyer with the weather the latter prevailed. Truth be known I made my decision as scientifically as I could after obsessively viewing and interpreting the synopsis charts provided by the Global Forecast system for many days ahead. Sure enough the devil's in the detail but the trend suggested no frost. I 've always had more than a sneaky regard for meteorology.

I've planted Cosmos 'Versaille tetra' which I've dotted with Amaranthus 'Marvel Bronze' plus Verbena bonariensis (a perennial I know, but treated as an annual, I took insurance cuttings last Autumn). I'm hoping they'll all make good friends. I have small plants of Cleome 'Violet Queen' which as ever were slow to germinate. I blame Cleome for my seed sowing haste as they truly benefit from big temperature fluctuations. Sown early under glass they bake on a sunny day and then the temperature drops like a stone at night.

Tobacco, I have lots of it. I love Nicotiana Sylvestris, I'm trying N. Sauvelens and a new introduction called 'Tinkerbell'.

Planted at front of La Grande Maison are Nasturtium 'Empress of India' and growing in pots are Rudbekia 'Cherry Brandy', a new one from Thompson and Morgan.

Finally, I had great plans to grow sweet peas which never materialised. Thoughts of mildew turned me against the idea as the spot where I want them just bakes. I even 'crafted' a teepee from weedy Alder which grows down by the river. The young trees make really decent tuteurs, good straight poles with the right amount of flex. I like it and am going to leave it where it is, sans sweetpeas.