Monday, 23 May 2011


The hot dry spell continues. Following a dry winter, this spring has been notable not only for an absence of rain, but for continuing high temperatures. The mercury is forecast to nudge thirty four centigrade on Wednesday, it's not even June yet, both March and April temperature anomalies were plus three or four degrees across southern France. May continues in the same vein.

Sempervivum and Sedum doesn't mind though. I honestly think I could get addicted to collecting these plants, there are just so many varieties, literally hundreds and every colour imaginable, oh and they require zero maintenance.

Wish I could say the same for the rest of the garden. I'm resigned to a daily slog of lugging watering cans all over the place. I count myself lucky that there's a natural water source here that constantly replenishes a small well, allowing me to dunk a can in and fill it in seconds before dutifully ferrying it about here and there and in record time; a proper workout.

I wish it would rain!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Mediterranean Bells

I love this allium relative, Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum. Less of a mouthful and altogether nicer is the common name, Mediterranean bells, or Sicillian honey lily. I planted about eighty bulbs last Autumn and am really impressed with them.

Admittedly quite a few have flopped over, but those that stand look wonderful.

Not easy to photograph though. They're almost too subtle and the camera loses some of their charm. They're definitely at their best in the evening light, the candelabra of blooms are flushed almost claret, hopefully they'll seed themselves about.

The Gladiolus byzantinus have nearly finished flowering now. I reckon they're about two weeks earlier than I thought, but that's been the story of this spring, it's felt like high Summer for weeks now.

They should naturalise easily in the meadowy area by the river, it's the perfect environment for them, sun all day and free draining. If they multiply three fold in as many years I'll be happy.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Les Asperges

Every Spring, a visit to an Asparagus farm is practically obligatoire for Karen and I. There are many dotted around the Dordogne valley, inevitably they're beautiful places that have been in families for generations and a rendevous is almost Le Sacre du Printemps, a true rite of Spring.

This is Monsieur Leopold Mazere who, as he put it, has lived here at the farm for seventy years and some. I think he was slightly bemused when myself and Karen, together with her Mum parked up, jumped out of the car and proceeded to take photos and swap pleasantries in quick succession yesterday afternoon, disturbing the peace after a long alfreso lunch.

The spears are graded into premier and deuxieme choix, the first choice being the fattest most perfectly formed. We bought two kilos of second choice as the plan was to make penne pasta with asparagus, simply the peeled and cooked spears folded into cooked penne together with a little creme fraiche, tarragon and a grating of parmasan.

Located just between Sarlat and Beynac, this has to be one of the most idyllic farm properties around. A true Perigordine maison built with a perfect courtyard planted with Plane trees which are dutifully clipped or pollarded so that by high Summer they provide much welcome shelter under a canopy of large leaves.

Not only is the property idyllic, so is the location. Panoramic views to the chateau at Beynac testify to that. If ever there was an incentive to go and buy some Asparagus, this is it.