Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Pictorial Meadows

I often look back from the pergola towards the steps up to the carpark and imagine the area as a carpet of flowers. Very meadowy, good bio-diverse credentials, beautiful to look at and requiring little in terms of ongoing maintenance.

Here in the southeast Dordogne, we are neither the Garrigue of the Meditteranean nor quite the pastoral meadows of southern England, rather somewhere in-between. Summer's can be hot but not always dry, frost can occur late into April and the soil is alluvial, this is limestone country. It has always left me a little uncertain as to a really good seed mix to sow.

Watching Sarah Raven's recent mini series on the beeb, 'Bees, Butterflys and Blooms' which featured some of the planting developed by Professor Nigel Dunnet, reminded me of a post from Noel Kingsbury's blog entitled, Sheffield - city of flowers.  Nigel's work has produced some beautiful annual and perennial seed mixes sold under the name Pictorial Meadows, and after much thought I decided to order 250 grammes of the 'Classic' annual mix yesterday morning, which at a suggested sowing rate of 3 grammes a square metre should give me a little more than I need to cover the 80 square metres or thereabouts I plan to sow.

I've maked out the rough shapes for each side of the path and under the Parasol pines. I'll get rid of the grass, rotavate the soil and get it to a fine tilth before sowing. I am excited - components of the flower mix include Shirley Poppy, California Poppy, Cornflower, Fairy Toadflax, Bishop's Flower, Tickseed and Corn Marigold, Black - eyed Susan, Red Orache and Larkspur.

To be continued.....

Sunday, 12 February 2012

All That Glitters Is Cold

I took some photographs around Les Eyzies today. Sparkling Les Eyzies. Frigid Les Eyzies. Bitterly cold Les Eyzies.

This record breaking cold spell has chilled us to the bone.

The weir at the end of the river Beune, icing up as the frost intensifies. 

The water wheel at Au Vieux Moulin, positively glacial.

Ice along the Vezere river.

There were sections where it had almost frozen the whole way across.

Hopefully the end of this benumbing weather is now in sight, MeteoFrance promise a thaw from mid-week, fingers crossed.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Le Grand Froid

The big freeze continues and France has not been spared as Winter asserted herself this last week. Following one of the mildest, least wintry cold seasons thus far, it seems February is doing it's level best to address the averages with a chilly period of correction. Temperatures further east have been particulary bitter, but even here in the usually clement Dordogne, the mercury has struggled.

It fell to minus ten centigrade last night and the temperature didn't see positive territory through today. It's been like this all week and MeteoFrance promise more of the same.

This weather has it's origins in Siberia. Truly brass monkey.

 We had about four inches of snow today. The dry, powdery stuff that drifts at just a hint of a breeze.

'As the days grow longer the cold gets stronger' - so the saying goes.  It's certainly true this year!