Monday, 25 April 2011

Chateau Neuvic Plant Fair

Karen and I spent yesterday morning wandering around the grounds of the very splendid Chateau de Neuvic just taking in the atmosphere and admiring the wonderful stalls at the annual Jardin en Fete. A perfect day.

You see, it's one thing to visit a good plant fair, but altogether another when it's held at a beautiful venue such as this.

There were so many good things to see. Proper 'plantspeople' selling really interesting stuff. Below is the very amicable Monsieur Willy de Wilde who owns the excellent Pépinière du Lac des Joncs which I blogged about previously here.

But what really grabbed me were the metal sculptures created by an English fella, Bill Carter, who for a number of years has been creating wonderful garden art by recycling old farm and garden tools.

The wild Boar above caught my eye initially. It's just so cleverly done. Look at the back leg, it's an old adjustable spanner. The backside, a shovel, and so on. Was that not a stroke of genius to stuff it full of pine cones? Of course it was!

The Cockerel above, head made from secateurs, chin from keys, tail from different sythes, oh and a garden fork.

I was particularly 'grabbed' by the Mayfly. So much so I bought it, that's it there clinging to the side of the old cattle barn. If you want to see more of Bills extraordinary work, click here.

Of course a celebration of plants includes many things derived from them. There was even a little spice stall which specialised in infusions of all sorts. Everything you'll ever need to prepare a Tisane or that special brew.

Yesterday was a good day, a really good day.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Wysteria Lane (Again)

Another beautiful day today. The weather this spring has been wonderful if a little too dry, however, twenty six degrees centigrade plus unbroken sunshine, I'm not complaining.

Karen and I decided to take a stroll around Sarlat and find somewhere for lunch. Why does food always taste better when dining alfresco? I had Duck Confit together with Pommes Sarladaise, Karen went for a Salade Composee, yum.

As ever, the Wysteria looks magnificent at this time of year, so just a few photos.

At it's peak now, the bloom time is always too short, but for a couple of weeks it's stunning, two weeks of splendour!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Looking For Clues

I'm suprised at just how slow the emerging spring growth of 'warm' season grasses can be. The new shoots of Panicum virgatum 'Squaw' (above) took a long time to show. The same applies to Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'. Pennisetum orientale 'Tall Tails' shows no sign of growth whatsoever despite it feeling robust when the old tufts are tugged and showing green when the base of last years growth is scraped with a fingernail. I wonder whether the thick layer of pine needle mulch I applied last Autumn has supressed the soil temperature, knocking things back a few weeks, who knows?

The new gowth on an unidentified Pennisetum of which I have two growing either side of the doors to the 'Well' barn. I simply don't know which variety they are, I picked them up cheaply a couple of years ago, tagged simply 'pennisetum' et voila. Their growth is so much more advanced in their snug Southeast facing position, tucked just in front of a heat radiating stone building.

Still talking grasses, above are the seedlings of Pennisetum villosum, which I'm informed is easily grown as an annual, rapidly making a good sized plant. It's probably borderline hardy in this frost 'hollow' so I'll take a view about the best option for protection this coming winter.

As usual, I've managed to grow way too many seedlings than I actually need. Cosmos 'purity' needs to be put out as it's rapidly heading towards being potbound. I think, hope, pray we've had our last frost. Also growing away now are Greek Origano, Nicotiana sylvestris, Agrostis nebulosa 'Fibreoptics' , Salvia patens and Chilli pepper 'Apache regular.

The border near the end gable is a maze of pea sticks and hazel plant supports. It looks a little odd right now, but the twigs will disappear once the Hollyhocks, Cosmos and Vebena bonariensis really get going. I used to buy those metal 'half moon' supports but I resent paying a small fortune for them, they always seem ridiculously expensive.

The Gladiolus byzantinus are growing strongly now. Back in the Autumn I planted one hundred and twenty five bulbs amongst the long grass down in the field and they seem to be popping up unscathed. We have a lot of red Squirrels and other rodents that would delight in digging up bulbs carefully planted in a remote position, not to mention hungry wild boar who can churn up turf with the efficiency of an industrial rotivator

A couple of late additions. I'm planting more grasses in the garden at the front of La Grande Maison, adding another six Calamagrostis 'karl foerster' plus replacing Coreopsis 'limerock ruby' which for some reason died after this winter. I don't really know why, It wasn't particularly cold, the ground drains easily, they never sat in the wet and I don't think anything chomped away at the roots, it's a mystery.