Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Blue to Magenta

I'm not sure what variety of Lavender this is, but every year it's an absolute triumph - initially the buds are denim opening to the purest blue and it flowers for ages. It's certainly not phased by this continuing hot Summer. Yesterday's temperature peaked at 39 centigrade, though one or two spots across the south west saw 40 degrees and Friday could be hotter as another blast of hot air wafts up from Spain and the African Maghreb.

The cardoon is starting to flower. The 'choke' takes on an almost electric quality somewhere between magenta and blue - luminous in the evening light and for a few short weeks my absolute favourite.

The Scotch thistle, onopordum acanthium, a pollinator magnet as common to so many members of the asteracaea family, stands around six feet tall and is a handsome beast. It's the thistle featured on the back of some £1 coins and as the 'crowned' thistle on the back of the 5 pence coin. A gem.

Sunday, 31 May 2015


Meteofrance seem pretty convinced we'll see temperatures between 36 and 38 degrees centigrade by the end of the week. That's 100 Fahrenheit!

We will all melt. Heat and high humidity - a Spanish Plume. Hot unstable air drifting up from north Africa and southern Spain.

There will be isolated thunderstorms too. I hope they miss.

The garden could do with some rain. But lengthy moderate rainfall would be preferable to torrential thundery downpours though unlikely.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Foxtail lily

They glow you know.  Eremurus himalaicus, the white foxtail lily shines in the evening sunshine. I love eremurus - so much so I bought about 9 or 10 roots of e. robustus last autumn - that's the big one, the 9 footer foxtail lily which is bound to draw a gasp. Bloody no shows - the lot of them. I have zero idea as to why not. I mean, the soil is right; the planting time was right; they had space.....   Maybe rodents?

Anyway, such is the way of things. Well almost.  That 'laissez faire' type statement belies my new motivation to grow Digitalis ferruginea as I need more spiky punctuation in my garden.  Blame it on Dan Pearson. I've just been leafing through his book, The Garden (again) admiring this sun loving biennial that he planted with such aplomb at Home Farm many moons ago.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Don't mow the meadow...

The 'meadow' area has been weeded and prepped as we've decided to continue to sow an annual meadow despite being a little disappointed with last years results. We've also decided to continue to use Pictorial Meadows annual seed varieties though this year we've changed the mix. For the last three seasons we sowed their 'classic mix' which for the first two years gave outstanding results - really beautiful. However, last season the same mix proved to be a little disappointing. I guess there are many reasons and factors that can explain why it was a little below par but life's too short to analyse the many ifs and maybes so this year we've sown 'blue wave' which incidentally was the mixture used outside the Aqua centre at the London Olympics - impressive eh? I hope so!

If we really can have a field of shimmering blue then we'll be happy, very happy though I can almost guarantee  some self seeders from last year will punctuate the colour scheme with a rogue hue here and there and that the - impossible to eradicate - bind weed will remain just that.

Above is the meadow in 2013 with its first flush of poppies following a sowing of Classic mix. Later in the year the succession changed to a yellow and gold theme as you can see in the photo below. This year's sowing, though altogether different promises to be really special if all goes well - I mean, who doesn't like blue flowers?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Le Périgord in Spring

Spring has sprung and the Perigord is better for it.

Hopefully we've had the last frost of any significance and no strong winds are forecast as the Peach blossom is about to open back at Le Banquet. Inclement weather cuts short pretty scenes such as the blossom in front of the church here at Castelnaud la Chapelle.

MeteoFrance promise us more in the way of sunshine from the middle of next week though the temperatures won't be breaking any records.

But April sunshine is warm sunshine and nature is waiting to burst forward.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Windfall Box

I've always fancied adding a little more box (buxus sempervirens) somewhere around La Fermette, down by the river. In fact I've always fancied having a low box hedge - a parterre - but creating one presents a twofold problem. Financial and patience. Box is both expensive and slow growing, so when my neighbour mentions that there's lots of old box hedging being given away as someone is digging up the grounds to an old manor house they've just bought and do I want any - well I bit their hand off.

I decided to make the parterre in front of the stone wall by the Fermette's terrace.

After removing the turf and digging the area over, I layed out the boxwoods to get an idea of spacing and number.

All in. A bit unruly but they'll pull into shape after being clipped and the 'leggy' exposed bases should leaf out nicely as the growing season gets under way and the light encourages them.

Clipped and waiting for spring. I'm undecided as to what to plant within the border, maybe annual Cosmos and Ammi majus (the bishop's flower).

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Good Year For The Truffle

The second weekend into January and Sarlat celebrates all thing Truffle. The Fête de la Truffe  is a major calender event and people descend from all over the world to be part of one of the best French traditions -  to eat fine food and drink fine wine. It's hard work, but someone's got to do it.

It's been a good year for the black Truffle of the Perigord.

There were huge quantities for sale  - more than in previous years and at anywhere between 650 to 900 euro a kilo, a lot of money changed hands,

Et voilà