Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Noël in Bergerac

There was an ethereal quality to the view surveyed by the statue of Cyrano de Bergerac as he peered down into the 'old' town through the swirling mist drifting from the river Dordogne this evening.

The little covered market was putting together the final touches to the orders for tomorrow nights Christmas eve dinner - the  réveillon - or 'wake up' feast traditionally served late in the evening and frequently after mid night mass.


Little  'hampers' of cheese.

But everywhere seems calm and peaceful. There's no mad last minute rush.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Mushroom Season Continues...

The Cepe season continues. It kicked off late, way into September when usually a downpour in August is the trigger. One thing's certain. This has to be one of latest running seasons, which courtesy of an absence of any frost seems set to continue for a week or two longer.

I bought these at Le Marché des Capucins, the big food market in Bordeaux and at 15 euro a kilo they weren't  too eye wateringly expensive. That said, on the way home, just near St. Emillion I saw a roadside stall packed with crates of this particular bolete knocking them out at 6.50 euro a kilo.

The start of Saturday night's dinner - mushrooms and noodles - the best noodles I could find at the Italian stall in the same market. Délicieux

Monday, 20 October 2014

Nature's Bounty - Sarlat Market

October is a favourite month. Karen and I have downtime as the holiday season is coming to an end, although  beautiful Autumn weather usually keeps October relatively busy - particularly the weekly food markets. The Saturday market at Sarlat is one of the best and we always make time to visit.

You can overdose on garlic in the Perigord.

You can overdose on cheese.

OD on Oysters - for a slightly iodine hit.

You can almost certainly OD on good wine

Or chill out at one of the many pavement cafes.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Return of the Pamps

It's taken two years from from the big freeze - Le Grand Froid - for the Pampas grass to recover back to full glory.  It's all a question of scale. In  a big landscape with lots of space, their huge plumes look superb. A real September treat.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Juli' has become enormous.

Its silvery white inflorescences shine in the warm September sun.

Second year for miscanthus 'gracillimus', so nowhere near full size yet.  It's dry and free draining where I've planted it and it may struggle to achieve full size. I thought the same for 'Juli',  however it exceeded all expectation in terms of scale, so there's hope for gracillimus.

Third year for m. sinensis 'malepartus'. I reckon it'll get very big by year five. It grows by the edge of the small pond and receives more moisture.

Miscanthus zebrinus is getting swamped by super lofty Japanese anemones. Five foot tall anemones which will need better staking next year.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Living France

Absolutely delighted to have my blog and garden featured in the Autumn issue of Living France magazine which is on sale now.  You can see the page PDF here.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Marqueyssac (by Phone)

It's been a long time, too long, since we visited the gardens at Chateau Marqueyssac. Last Friday however, we made a long overdue return visit to 'Les Jardins Suspendu' - the Hanging Gardens with panoramic views of the Dordogne valley.

Sadly, camera forgotten and with just one bar of charge left on the mobile phone I managed just a few shots before the power finished. For the full picture go here

 The box is clipped beautifully and the 'parc', with over six kilometres of footpaths and walks has a labyrinthine feel to it, not to mention containing pretty much all of the native flora and fauna found in the Perigord Noir - The Black Perigord - named such due to the vast swathes of dark Holm oak found growing in this region.

But for me, it's the beautiful views,  true vistas over the Dordogne valley that make this a special place. There are bucolic scenes all around the park and the gardens, at 200 metres above the river act as a natural belvedere.  This was a view over to the fortified chateau of Castelnaud. Unfortunately the 'phone's camera seemed hell bent on fixing focus to the trees in the fore and then running out of power. All the same, it's a fairytale view - one of many. If you ever get to go there, take the camera!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Cardoon en Route

The cardoon's doing its thing. Perfect magenta.

They stand tall for now, discreetly staked as any notable wind could bring them over.

The garden looks good at the moment - the flipside of a below par start to July weatherwise. Showery and relatively cool, everything's that bit more turgid. The heat returns next week according to MeteoFrance.

Everything is very green for now.

Leading down to La Fermette, the new border that I built earlier in the year has filled out rapidly. Another boon of recent rainfall. Kniphofia caulescens are clumping out handsomely and I guess will be sending up their 'torches' in a month or so. The Russian sage may have to be moved about a bit. It's growing rapidly and as ever I've underestimated it's ultimate size which will almost certainly swamp out the pathway. Aside, I continue to find it difficult to get a good photograph of this area.

Maybe this pic does it more justice?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Make Time For Wine (Again)

We took off in the car and headed to wine country last Tuesday. Only an hour away and you're amongst the appellations of Bergerac, Pécharmant, Montravel and many more.  Grabbed these photos of cave, Julien de Savignac just outside Bergerac within the Monbazillac region.

This is a beautiful place to buy wine!

This is the good stuff.

Drink it in the garden.

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Blues

Every year I manage to underestimate just how big catmint will get. Even after much spring division, giving away large chunks, still it does it's thing and fills out almost every inch to where it started. On the flipside I also always to manage to forget how beautiful catmint is.  June is it's best month.

Salvia nemorosa is just starting to colour up. The colour of dark denim and possibly the best blue equalled only by the blue of Lavender 'Hidcote' which flowers later on.

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'. I still reckon this is the prettiest blue geranium though not the longest flowering.

Campanula muralis cloaks the terrace at La Forge. The wall bellflower crops up everywhere and seems to colonise regardless of sun or shade.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Eremurus and alliums - perfect.

These foxtail lillies are e. himalaicus, and they shine like candles in the spring sunshine.

 I have five, but back in early April, a caterpillar chewed away two of the emerging blooms. Bloody caterpiller, left me with three. Anyway, I need more, so come the Autumn I'll pick up another five or six bulbs.