Monday, 30 April 2012

Jardin en Fête

Karen and I spent yesterday afternoon touring the annual garden fete held in the grounds of the magnificent Château de Nuevic. It's hard to imagine a better venue - a sixteenth century chateau close to the banks of the river L'Isle complete with a parc botanique.  

Despite dodging the odd short lived sharp downpour, all in all it was a good event. As ever with these things, it's the characters that really 'make it'.

That's M. Willy de Wilde whose excellent nursery, la Pépinière du Lac des Joncs, is simply one of my favourite places to visit. I mentioned it before here and  here.

 Now here's a story. Just before we were about to leave, we stumbled upon a stall specialising in honeysuckle and really beautiful, species and scented pelargoniums (I don't usually like pelargonium, too blingy, not these though). 

 Plantes de Paillole is run by an English woman, Gay Webster who'd travelled up the night before from the Lot et Garonne department. Gay told us that she'd stayed overnight in a dormitory within the chateau along with eight other people who'd also travelled a fair jaunt. Well it's nice to stay in a splendid chateau, but it gets better. Gay went on to tell us how the head gardener doubles as a chef and had cooked the small group pork chops over a huge log fire that previous evening. There were also salads and other vegetable dishes plus Bergerac red wine practically on tap. Tres conviviale.

These are insect 'hotels' by the way." Ho-tel, Mo-tel, ho-li-day Innnn." They did a brisk trade, seems everybody wants to house a bug.  I was tempted to buy one but resisted, I reckon there's plenty of places for insects to hide in my garden.

Of course the chateau had the Mother of insect hotels, actually closer to an insectean olympic village!

Finally, for no other reason than I like him, I give you the Gallic rooster, Le Coq, the national mascot of France and made entirely from old farm tools and the odd horseshoe.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Morel Mushrooms

 Discreet these Spring mushrooms, but I see them, they can't hide forever.

Funnily enough, just the other day I was talking to a neighbour, Monsieur Bosquet, who pointed out that this is an exceptional year for the Morel mushroom and inquired as to whether I had seen any?
I think he was taken aback by my negative response, but at that time I'd not 'bumped' into any at all and despite having a swift look in one or two places that looked likely to yield, our paths did not cross.

Today that changed.  You have to tune in you see - focus. They're there, but not that apparent until you see one, which then enables you to see another, then another and then, before you know it, they're popping up everywhere.

I picked just a couple to photograph. If they're around at the weekend, and they may well be, I'll pick some more, an upside of decidedly down-side wet weather.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Spring in the Perigord

 I think this April weather is nature's correction for a dry winter and a warm, parched March. We've had April showers in abundance, by the bucket load really, but all useful stuff as it goes a little way to replenishing the depleted ground water levels and staves off possible water restrictions this coming Summer.

There's no denying that a wonderful sheen of green has appeared across the land, that the garden seems almost turgid and  things generally look a good deal spiffier for a liberal refreshment, but much of the spring blossom has been knocked back by the heavy downpours and blustery showers.

A few of these photographs were taken this same week last year when the weather was more clement and it wasn't a case of blink and you'll miss it. April '11 started on an altogether warmer note than 2012.

Not wishing to appear slightly obsessed with the weather, I can report that April's cool start follows a record March with daytime maximum temperatures averaging a little over 18C, yet still chilly nights with ten air frosts.

Now that is a weather fact, and here's another one; all this rain is good for the garden, good for the reservoirs, great for ground water and river levels, but if it stopped tomorrow I wouldn't complain.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Pictorial Meadows cont...

Fun and games this meadowy stuff. Fair enough, it isn't a meadow in the true sense of the word - that being low fertility soil, a mixture of grasses, native wildflowers and so on. It actually takes years to create a 'true' meadow, but I need something this Summer so the planned Pictorial meadow continues. The first installment is here.

It's bloody hard work preparing the ground. The rotavator pictured really wasn't up to the job, way too feeble to till to a depth of 20cms as recommended by  Pictorial Meadows ltd  so my only real option was to dig the soil by hand, all 85 square metres of it! Feeble rotavator did create a fine tilth to the turned earth however, a lot easier than using just a rake.

My cat dug better holes than the rotavator, here's the proof. I'm laughing, look at the focus and intent, it's such an important job.

So after two days digging and rotavating I'll wait to see what weeds appear from the disturbed seed bank. They'll need removing and then I can sow.

The cherry blossom bloomed in the time I took to prepare the seed beds. This is the big tree you can see in the background on the first photo. Fruit has good years and bad, sometimes without rhyme or reason though frost is a key player here. The tree is covered in blossom this year, snow in spring, my neighbour's daughter reckons Karen and I will be cherry millionaires.

To be continued...