So Much To Do

Isn't Autumn the busiest time? So much to do. Pruning, clearing leaves, mulching, moving tender plants, fleece wrapping some in situ. emptying pots, turning the compost heap etc. etc. etc. Of course all this has to be done in ever shortening daylength and that's before I collect the three billion or so walnuts that practically carpet the gravel parking area.

Along with chestnuts (the tree of which is still occasionally referred to as l'arbre a pain, the bread tree, since at one time everyday bread was necessarily made of chestnut flour) walnuts were once a major part of the diet here in the Perigord. Highly calorific, they were good sustenance for a rural living spent working in the fields. I reckon on picking up enough to sustain a large family of bears through winter.

Of course these days, walnuts and chestnuts are vital ingredients in achieving confectionery perfection.

And then there are all those leaves. This is just the beginning. Soon the car park will disappear under a thick bed of feuilles, dutifully they will be raked, piled up and covered with a black plastic sheet. Left for a year or so, the result is top notch leaf mould. Veritable black gold.

This stuff is alive. As soon as we get 'killing' frosts and I can get to all the beds I'll spread this with abandon.

Talking of living things, my compost bins are a little depleted right now, but then over the coming weeks there will be plenty with which to fill them.

Another Autumn freebie I've been collecting are pine needles. The woods around here are full of pine and I have no doubt that the French probably think I'm just an insane Englishman raking these up, but I intend to try them as a mulch as I've heard good reports and Phillip over at Dirt Therapy thinks they're very pleasing on the eye.

This is also the time of year that I tend to get any outdoor repairs and DIY done. I'm currently rebuilding the steps that lead from the carpark using reclaimed stone. Building them is the easy part, finding the stone is another story. I must have scrutinised every inch of the grounds at Le Banquet trying to find suitable pieces. Each and every one has to be jet washed and many 'dressed' with a hammer and cold chisel but they should look nice when eventually finished. Anyway, I'll save this for anther post when the project is complete.

Oh, and did I mention all those leaves? Of course I did.


  1. The pine needles are good as an acid mulch. I put it around proteas and ericas.

  2. You just needed to spoil my Saturday, Rob! I just came back from a bike ride around my neighborhood, relaxed and inspired by all the autumn colors, and here you are, reminding about raking, clearing, moving... But it wasn't enough. You threw that picture with all the decadent sweets straight to my face, and now I am craving for sweets and drooling. Thank you dear!

  3. That "black gold" looks amazing, your plants will love it. WE have a lot of old maples on our property, the raking seems to never end.

  4. The black gold looks great but the confectionary looks even better. :) I wish I was in that shop right now.

  5. Fall is such a busy time. It's the time of year I think some evergreen shrubs would be all I'd like in my garden.
    What a nice compost bin area you have. I'd love to share the pine needles in my yard with you, they are all over everything.
    Beautiful pictures and can't wait to see the steps, they are looking really nice.

  6. Ha, you're a hoot! I keep getting bulb orders inthe mail I never even remember ordering! Hundreds upon hundreds of winter crocus. When do I plant them? It's freezing out there. Guess you just have to suck it in and think about the lovely view from inside the warm house in early March. (wish I had pine needles, my clay is like 8.0.)

  7. What a great reminder of all that there is to do in the fall. I wish I had some of your 'black gold' for my garden.

    I was going to say that we use pine needles as mulch because they not only keep down weeds, but also acidify our alkaline soils - but I noticed that Elephant's Eye mentioned them first :)

  8. I am quite envious of your compost bins! I gather pine needles too for their acidity... I place them around viburnums. I could not keep up with you... so much just goes undone... there is always next year... I hope. I am not much into raking... for I love walking and kicking up the leaves... but if the wind does not whip them away by spring I will have to have help with all that fall from my giant Rock Maples. What talent ... your steps too! I am exhausted just reading all you do. Lovely photos! You feed bears?? Carol

  9. I enjoyed your post. I have next week off, and hope to get lots of outdoor and indoor work done. I love the fences/frames you have for your compost bins.

  10. Oh, I LOVE this post....I am uh...drooling over your compost! I'm gonna go out and baby mine a bit tomorrow!

    Great pics, btw! Have a wonderful weekend....Lylah

  11. Hot Chestnuts, that brings back memories. Great compost and those steps will be worth the effort, they look great already.

  12. Hi Rob, so much to comment on here, but first and foremost, those sweet goodies! What a lovely set up and the photo is like an advertisement. Where was this taken, might I ask? First the walnuts, our walnuts have a very different outer covering, dark brownish black and ridged, a different kind? Black walnuts as opposed to English? The pine needles are used here too, we already have somewhat acidic soil. In Texas where the soil was alkaline, a landscaper told me all the pine needles in the world would not make that soil very acidic, that crushed gysum would be better. But the needles do make a wonderful mulch. The stone covering on the steps is gorgeous, you are doing a first rate job of it. Must rake leaves today. Don't work too hard, now, Rob. :-)

  13. A gardener's work is never done Rob. I am trying to motivate myself to going out to do some leaf sweeping but it's windy - that's my excuse. What do you do with all those walnuts ?

  14. Rob,

    I enjoyed your post, all those walnuts! It looks like that rock stairway will be really nice once finished.

  15. Rob I am envious of your walnuts. You sound as though you are enjoying the work.

  16. Hi Rob did you see I tagged you for a Meme on my last post.

  17. Cor, but your leaf mould looks good!
    The car park and steps look a bit different to when we were there - looking good though.
    I've been composting today too - all the soft fruit has had a goodly dollop of black gold, so I'm feeling quite virtuous (and shattered!).... all I need now is some of those gorgeous truffles please! :)

  18. Hello Rob, I´m so glad you posted again, was waiting for another wonderful images like theses ones!!
    Como and visit my garden in the Los Andes mountains in Chile, I live at 1080 mts high and do my best to grow a garden.
    Muchos cariños
    P.s please do post more!
    Maria Cecilia

  19. Anytime you want to build stone steps again - come on over! I'll have to buy the stones as not a one was found during the digging for our house foundation.

    What photos you taunt us with! :-) All of those good things in France.

    I do empathize with the work this time of year. I went outside after lunch to plant three lavender (thinking I'd be out for just a few minutes). That turned into... working in the garden for 5 hours until darkness fell! I kept seeing more things to do. I couldn't help it.


  20. Interesting post that makes me wonder, do you put those walnutleafes in the compost? I've been told that they contents something that should be poison for other plants. That's why I keep raking them up and drive them away to the recyceling station every year. Some people are amazed that I have a flowerbed under my walnut tree since they know that nothing grows under them. Maby I'm abel to let those leafes stay on the ground?

  21. I don't know what we'd do without our walnuts... as we use them in our daily dose of Bran/whole wheat muffins.

    We are in the process of doing a third bin, for that 'black gold' keeps coming. Rob, patiently awaiting your finished stone creation.

  22. Wonderful post, and a grand visit.

    Walnuts, my favorite for oatmeal cookies, so we sell pecans and buy walnuts.

    Pine straw is a wonderful mulch and I'm thankful for the row of pines I have that self-mulch the azaleas.

  23. Once again, I'm inspired to get out into the yard. Thank you for this enjoyable tour of autumnal work that you make more like a pleasure.

  24. We did a bunch of that raking here too yesterday, and today, the leaves again carpet my front garden. Ah, well, a couple more times and then all will be finite.

    Loved hearing about the chestnuts. Living where I do, I've only had them once. Happy Autumn.~~Dee

  25. I can't seem to get past the image of the compost! So beautiful...looks even sweeter than the scrumptious 'les boulets!'

  26. Oh my gosh, where did you find time to write this blog post! I feel like I need a nap just reading about your industriousness.

    I'll be interested in hearing how the pine needle mulch works out.

  27. I always love your pictures.

  28. I use pine needles in the pathways in our Asian themed garden. It is very pretty and does a great job of keeping the weeds down.

    Your stairs look great!

  29. Love those walnuts & chestnuts, Rob. But now after enjoying your energenic post, I'm feeling guilty and hear my neglected garden ... call (scream)!

  30. Where did you get all that energy? I'm so glad you're getting so much accomplished in the garden, Rob.

  31. My goodness, you do have a lot going on. The leaf mould is yummy. Your compost bins look so sturdy; I need to ask hubby to make me some. But first I need to clear out some space for them . . . too much to do!

  32. Oh, lucky you - I love walnuts!

    The view beyond your compost bins looks lovely.

    Like the idea of a pine neeedles mulch!

  33. Everything looks better in France--the candy, the compost bins, the leaf mold....

  34. Your handful of black composting leaves?

    I could smell them in Stone Mountain, GA. Thank you for that!

    Truly, frustrating not being able to smell all you're doing.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  35. Been viewing your posts...great photography !
    I see your a serious composter.
    Shame I don't really have the land for that. We use lots of compost.

    Love to see the rebuilding of your steps when done. Stone and cement in the garden has that old world look which is so inviting.

  36. Hi Rob

    Seems as though you are busy busy:)

    We have three walnut trees - two behind the barn and one on our border with the Chemin that passes - and even then, we never seem to collect them all.

    Perhaps it is because, on arrival in France, I collected about 350 kilos at the house we rented.

    Pine needles do make a good mulch and if you leave them long enough they also make a good'ish peat alternative.

    Laid around tender plants they also make a good insulator.

    Steps are looking good too :)

    All best


  37. I'm going to be so busy this week myself. We should have our first killing frost on Saturday along with some snow. I'm going to be spreading that leaf mulch and making my gardens happy. I use the pine straw around the acid loving plants such as our azaleas and rhododendrons.

    Rob you have one of my favorite blogs on the internet. From the chestnuts to the countryside and especially the chocolate! --and then your pleasant personality--I love every minute here.


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