Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Stone continued

The stone walls for the new garden area are finished. Finally.

As ever, I found myself using all the choice pieces in the beginning which left me scratching around as I neared the end. Earlier rock rejects suddenly got back on the agenda and needed to be placed, it's a simple equation of choice versus scarce resource, but then it's always like that, given enough trial and error the result looks good.

This truck made six deliveries yesterday afternoon. Each time depositing about a metre and a half cubed of topsoil. Enough I say, begone.

It's no fun barrowing it into the new bed. I admired its crumbly friability at first, but back ache took the gloss of that.

See the mini mountain. Eight cubic metres in total and a real job of work, but worth it in the end of course. 

I'll finish moving it tomorrow before the weather turns cold. MeteoFrance are promising a Grand Froid from tomorrow onwards. A big chill hatched in Russia feeding its way on an easterly all the way to the Atlantic coast. No thanks, Brrrrrrr.

Monday, 23 January 2012


The recent 'knock through' the back of La Grande Maison has left me with a good sized pile of stone. It's quite amazing how much comes from creating a relatively small opening, but in fairness, considering that the depth of the walls are some sixty centimetres, perhaps I shouldn't be that suprised.

This is the good stuff. The very material used to build the house now put to use in making the garden. You see  I'm in the process of losing much of the lawn in the courtyard, instead creating raised beds. I need more of the view pictured below, the dry garden, but it's a labour of love. In an ideal world I would simply dig over the lawn and plant, et voila, but lurking a few inches below the topsoil from which the grass grows are layers of castine (gravel) and general spoil from when the place was built, so the hard 'graft' solution remains my only option.

Once I finish building the low walls, I'll need to import some seven or so cubic metres of topsoil before I can start to plant up.  As for a planting list, now there's a question. Whoever the potential incumbents, they'll need to take it droughty.

To be continued...

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Fête de la Truffe à Sarlat

Tis the annual festival of Truffles at Sarlat and we are here to eat.

And drink.

And sniff.

And gather.

And eat more.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year [and cheers Jake]

I can't believe we're nearing the end of the first week in 2012. Happy New Year seems a bit belated, however it's perfectly normal to wish you a bonne année at any time through January in France, right up to the thirty first, so I may wish you another Happy New Year in just under four weeks time!

Daylength is slowing increasing. By the end of the month, it'll have extended by just under an hour at this latitude. My thoughts have already turned to longer days. Above is rose 'Golden showers' pictured last year a little before the longest day.

The weather at the moment is ideal; breezy and mild with no hard frost forecast, so a perfect window in which to get on and do the high altitude pruning necessary for golden showers to become a splendiferous thing by next Summer solstice.

Pruning this year has been a dream. This Christmas, Karen bought me a pair of Japanese 'Okatsune' secateurs together with a swiss sharpening stone from a company called Niwaki. These are simply the best secateurs I have ever used. No splaying, no crushing just the sharpest, cleanest cut possible.

I came across Niwaki some time ago when company founder, Jake Hobson contacted me to see if he could use a picture from my blog for a forthcoming book. No problem. The rest is history as they say, and now I'm into Japanese steel, it's a beautiful thing. Cheers Jake!

Finally, can I point out that I received no 'kickback' or any financial gain whatsoever from Niwaki and that no children or animals were harmed in writing this post.

Happy New Year!