Les poissons en France

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Neighbours Think We're Balmy

.....and they're probably right. The French just don't understand some Brits obsession with gardens.  It is just in our DNA as wine is in theirs.

For the last fortnight we have had temperatures around 30 degrees C in the afternoon, which is too hot to be working outside. So we developed a strategy of setting the alarm for 6.30am so that we could be out in the garden by 8 o'clock. At this time of year there is so much that needs doing, planting seeds, planting young plants, buying and planting new plants that you just can't live with out, edging, mowing, mowing etc. Yes he's on the tractor every other day, but it really sets the garden off. I can't pretend that he is mowing the grass as the "green stuff" contains very little grass, but whatever it grows incredibly quickly.

However we are pleased with our not inconsiderable labours and I took these photos yesterday before the scheduled storm. The storm did not materialise until lunch time today, just one and a half minutes after we had planted the last dahlia - perfect!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Let them eat Flowers

There will be no vegetables this year (or at least not much).  The vegetable patch has been turned into the Cutting Bed to supply flowers for the house!
We may go hungry but it will look colourful indoors.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Another One

It was John's turn to celebrate his 70th yesterday. His biggest present was a much appreciated day off from hard labour in the garden! Although hard work never seemed to hurt anyone as he had just read in the paper that his idol, Toko Shinoda (artist), had just had an exhibition in Tokyo at the age of 104 - although she did comment that she only paints now when she feels like it!

John managed to fit in some painting before we went to the catering college for an excellent lunch. We started with a fishey amuse bouche, followed by a fabulous monkfish, crab and shellfish ragout, rack of lamb with vegetable cannelloni and sweets from the trolley (good job we go back as far as the 70s).

In the afternoon he wanted to make our monthly visit to the garden "Jardin de Manoir" to asses the changes. Well the first change was that it was full of tourists. We had become used to our out of season visits where we were the only visitors and rather treated it like a walk around "our garden".
I will leave John to comment further on the garden in May but after much resistance I did manage to take this photo of him in the White Garden.

John's PS
It's a month since we last went to the gardens at Eyrignac and everything is now lush and green.  The Hornbeam hedging is amazing; it had grown shoots about 6 inches (15cms).  We found one of the groundsmen and asked what fertiliser they use and he said basically none!
17th March
23rd April
23rd May

Elsewhere, the spring bulbs have been replaced with New Guinea Impatiens and Cleomes ... and of course the roses are now bloomimg!
Shame about the growing number of tourists!!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lots of Activity in the Garden

Last Thursday we had a visit from some members of the garden club to which I belong. Of course frantic weeding and mowing during the week before let alone all that moving of chippings. The weather forecast for last Thursday was dreadful with a storm scheduled to break just as the visitors were due to begin the tour. So they arrived half an hour early and we delayed lunch and toured the garden early. Just as well because the heavens opened at 2 o'clock as predicted.
Sixteen members came and we provided a simple lunch and drink for which they paid 6 euros each with the proceeds going to our Open Garden Charity. We are due to repeat this at the end of June for another club but with considerably more visitors. Seemed a good idea when it was arranged in February!!

I had an enormous rosemary bush at the end of the garden which had outgrown its space so I suggested John might like to try to bonsai it. It took him about an hour to dig it up and then another hour to trim it. It will require much training in the future but the first step is to see if it grows.
The increasing bonsai collection has necessitated the doubling of the existing display area. Easier said than done. First remove the bank behind the area and excavate the ancient wall it had covered. Then dig out the bed and cover it in bark chippings, fortunately the lorry load promised by the Mayor arrived last week.
We were up early this morning to go to the large plant fair which is held locally every year. I was just going to go with John to look at the bonsai stand as I didn't need anything. Some how we managed to return with 3 bags crammed full of plants. The rest of the day has been spent planting, including a lovely rose which my friend bought me for my birthday.
However we do have the odd mishap. I intended to plant a lot of dahlias in the serpentine bed before we went to Taiwan and I've only just got round to unpacking them from their winter storage.
Whoops, they were obviously trying to escape! Once they green up I will plant them anyway and hope for the best.

The cold frame is bulging and I've still got seeds to plant so better get started.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A well-earned Rest?

3 weeks ago we had 10 tonnes of castine delivered for the Dry-river bed.  And we slightly over estimated the quantity needed. So, as you will have read, we have finally completed that feature in the garden.
But, what to do with the surplus?
First of all I resurfaced the parking area next to the house.  Because we bought a larger size of chippings the result seems a lot more robust.  Time will tell!
Then I covered the paths in the vegetable garden and the head-gardener is very impressed with the result.

Finally, I put the stones which had been at the bottom of the pile (and consequently all mixed with earth and grass) into the extension for the Bonsai.  This will be covered with wood chippings.
Pleased to see the back of this job!

Yesterday 13th May was the magic date when we are supposed to be passed all danger of frost (les
Saintes Glaces).  So the head gardener duly started her planting-out campaign.
She had to fall back on plan Z for the colours as she missed the main period for Petunias and couldn't find Red!!!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fanfare Please

The dry river bed is finished.   

But he still has 5 tonnes of chippings left. Never fear he has already spread half of it on the car standing area and another couple of days will see the whole job done. This activity is sandwiched between collecting compost for the prairie beds and mowing the entire "estate". Furthermore the mairie are offering to deliver free of charge 2 cubic metres of wood chippings, so we have said "yes please". He must shovel and move wheelbarrows in his sleep - bless him - although he is so tired he just collapses in a coma.

Monday, May 08, 2017

My Man

Our trip to Taiwan has rekindled John's interest in Bonsai. Those of you who know him will know that if he has a new interest it is absolutely full on from day one. I have been chuckling to myself as I remember that his Dad was just the same.

He has been interested in Bonsai for many years and had a collection in the UK, however for practical reasons they were abandoned to their fate - unfortunately a skip we understand. But it is never too late to start again. These little trees take years to develop but there are short cuts, one of which is to buy established trees or shrubs from garden centres and then restyle them. Therefore he/we have been scouring all the local nurseries for suitable specimens and watching every YouTube video ever recorded on the subject. Consequently in a fortnight the Bonsai collection has increased by about ten plants.. I have been instructed to stop him buying anymore as he is now turning his attention to collecting from the wild i.e. the hill above our house. There are some wonderful specimens there but digging them out is tricky and requires patience, not one of John's virtues!!