Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sarlat Market

Yesterday was the first Saturday Karen and I could take off since the end of April. So it was off to the market at Sarlat we went and couldn't get there quick enough. The weather was great, the atmosphere the same, just the perfect way to start the weekend.

Sarlat is one of the most perfectly preserved medieval towns in the world, so as a window into 14th century France, there is nowhere better.

But market day is all about food and yes that is a Paella next to the Pommes de terre à la sarladaise. The French have adopted the Spanish rice dish with gusto and you can find it everywhere.

Walnuts are a major crop in the Dordogne and they are excellent - I'm not just saying that - held in high regard by the French, there are four varieties here, Franquette, Corne, Marbot and Grandjean, all of which make up the AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée) Walnut of the Perigord, a controlled designation of origin status which is only awarded when something is particularly special from a given area. It's all based on the French concept of terroir, a lengthy subject to which you can find out more here.

The one notable absence at the market were mushrooms, notably the famous cepes, but that may change. I'll just have to go back.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Hydrangea paniculata plans

Everything's 'greened' up since late August. We had two belts of heavy rain pass by during the month which took the pressure off the worsening water situation and got things growing again. Now as we head towards mid- September everything is that bit more turgid and under a softer sunlight the garden looks so much better.

The low box hedge, growing by La Fermette which I clipped back hard in February is starting to leaf out nicely. This is such good news as it was a freebie - a rare thing - and even though there is every re-assurance that box is tough and slowly it will respond, there's always an element of doubt that there may be a casualty.

As a temporary filler  (it's a parterre remember) I grew annual cosmos which managed to look awful by the end of August. Quite how cosmos fails is a mystery as it's probably the easiest annual to grow, but fail they did, so I pulled the lot which gave more light to the self seeded nicotiana sylvestris - a bunch of volunteers courtesy of a disturbed seed bank -  and which now looks likely to run up to flower as we really get into Autumn.

I thought long and hard as to what would be the perfect plant(s) to provide a more permanent solution to grow in this particular spot, the old 'right plant, right place' adage which led me to hydrangeas. It's a part sun location, capable of better water retention than other areas by the river and a half decent soil which I'll enrich with composted cow manure!

Is a sack of dung worthy of a photograph?

As to the hydrangeas, I decided on two paniculata types, 'Unique' and 'Vanille fraise'

The blooms aren't exactly at their best right now. I had to trim most of them off to get the plants into the car, but fingers crossed, next year, planted with Japanese anemones (I am planting the dark pink 'Pamina') they should make a great association.