Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Sleepers



I think it's fair to say that the French take pride in the appearance of their railway stations. Often they're beautiful 19th century buildings with a slightly grand feel about them even when situated at quieter outposts such as my local station here in Les Eyzies.

I'd kept meaning to post this photograph taken a few summers back, and by the same token had intended to photo a lot of the local stations to me as they're all so well dressed and who can argue? It's not a bad view that, looking back over the tracks through blue Russian sage Perovskia, together with blooming Crepe Myrtle which the French call 'Lilas des Indes'.



The French railways, SNCF are currently re-laying large areas of new track. The landscaper's dream material, sleepers, are available everywhere and I kid you not, I picked up thirty for an absolute song.

The land pictured below is behind La Grande Maison and was at one time completely overgrown with brambles, nettles and horsetail. A few years back Karen and I cleared it, together with a further two areas which are effectively terraces which lead down to the river. Sadly, as we painstakingly revealed and cleaned the stone wall a large area on the right collapsed and we had to 'earth' it up to secure it. The plan is to cut steps into it using the sleepers as risers and treads which will give an easy descent down to the river.



When we'd finished clearing the area I simply grass seeded all the levels. This was the quick option and the lawn rapidly smothered many weeds which coupled with weekly mowing has weakened the horsetail and brambles to the point they've practically given up.

Eventually we may create a garden here, but in truth it's natural beauty is garden enough.

32 comments:

  1. What a beautiful area. You are right, it doesn't need a lot of planting.

    We call them (sleepers) 'cross ties'

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  2. aloha,

    i agree that train stations in france are really unique and well kept...and i love the natural area you mention, i think i can hang out there for a while, if someone brings me a nice glass of wine????

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  3. I rather like horsetails. Are they invasive? We have a restio - Elegia capensis, which also grows with its 'leaves' in whorls.

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  4. I agree. The natural beauty is quite enough. Your photos are great. Carla

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  5. per chance is that a trout stream in the picture??

    schnitzel and the Trout blog!

    TROUT!!

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  6. You post the most gorgeous, evocative pictures Rob. I love the wild beauty scenes.

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  7. Nice score on the timbers. I've always enjoyed riding the rails on the sncf--the German's are very punctual, but it just isn't as fun, lacks that certain je ne sais quoi.

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  8. Two wonderful sights, Rob, the train station and your own piece of heaven. It does indeed look perfect now. But as a garden, it would be difficult to not attack it with gusto. Since we will soon be in England, and riding a train, I wonder if the station in Great Malvern is as picturesque? :-)
    Frances

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  9. Are there any abandoned railway stations? I could live in one of those! :-)

    You've picked up great material for your landscape project. I love the scenery.

    During days like we've been having (90 degrees, it's crazy), I've felt like my garden is too big for one person to maintain. Think about it before expanding your garden!

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  10. Lilas des Indes! Why does everything sound better in French?

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  11. My stepmother lives in a converted train station in Provence.

    Do you have to worry about if the timbers are treated with creosote? In California, telephone poles, railway timbers and the like are disposed of as hazardous waste.

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  12. Couldn't agree more Rob!

    Natural beauty - who needs more, when the nature looks like that?

    I can really appreciate the amount of work you have put into your garden... Must have been a hard first cople of years you experienced.

    Love the sleepers, hope you're planning to keep the metal things also. That detail makes them more unique to me!:-)

    Have a weekend!
    I am going to our best Garden Fair myself, spending two-three days there listening to interesting speaches and looking at nice things:-) My kind of heaven!!

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  13. ... well, maybe "heaven" is a liiittle bit too much said... I meant Good time!

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  14. In Denmark you are advisede not to use those timber...in your kitchen garden. So take care! Lovely photos, I spent a 1½ month last autumn in Dordogne (La Chapelle Aubareil) and I loved it.

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  15. A beautiful site you have. And yes, who would need more with a natural beauty like this! :)

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  16. Love your pictures, Rob! And the sleepers too!

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  17. Did you hear that? It was me gasping very loudly all the way from Southern California. What beautiful pictures. I love your garden!!!

    ~janet

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  18. Is everything there so stunningly beautiful, and elegant? Even the so called weeds are lovely?

    I guess you can see that we are all in love with the beauty of your country.

    Yes we have train stations, and weeds, but ours are a kind of rugged Northwest natural beauty.

    I have heard also that the "sleepers" are treated with chemicals that should not be used near any edible plants. They are so rustic, and the metal strapping does add a wonderful detail to them.

    Can't wait to see the finished steps.

    Jen

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  19. Sob. The grass, the brook...

    In South Africa we call Crepe Myrtle Pride of India...

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  20. Now would those sleepers were nearer Rob - himself would be most happy - sounds as if you got a bargain.

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  21. I'd love to take a train through France again, I wish I remembered more of the train stations. The plantings really are very pretty.
    I agree the natural look of your newly cleared space is beautiful.

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  22. Sounds wonderful, Rob, and a creative way to recycle the rustic 'sleepers'. You are amazing, always a unique project at hand. I would love to join Cameron in a charming abandoned railway station ... "all aboard!"

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  23. Here we call sleepers railway ties, and I have a few of those around. The trains stations are beautiful over there. What I want to know is what kind of grass do you use! I don't care what we use the weeds still come through. Must be the soil you have!!

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  24. P.S. Love the creek side area!

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  25. Lovely views both of the train station and of your terracing down to the river. So beautifully green!

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  26. Beautiful pics and beautiful landscape. What a pleasure it must be, waiting for the train.
    Sounds like you've put quite some time and effort into improving your surroundings. Much rewarding though, I assume.

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  27. Lovely as always. I'm always amazed at how much your photos remind me of where I live since we share so many of the same plants...while simultaneously reminding me NOTHING AT ALL of where I live because everything is so delightfully French.

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  28. I have empathy for your's and Karen's hard work clearing Rob! So seeding will help keep back horsetail... I bet it would not work with bitter sweet! I love your wilderness garden and train station! Utterly charming and lovely!

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  29. Jammy devil, getting all those sleepers for a song!

    Good luck with the coming season!

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  30. Very nice! My stepmother lives in a 19th Century train station in the Var. The stone platform edges still run through her garden.

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