Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring at last

The winter here in south west France has dragged on a bit this year, with the cold and wet weather extending into the beginning of this month.

tulipsHowever, the last couple of weeks have brought some spring weather with them and, suddenly, things are bursting into flower

These tulips are in a small flower bed right next to the main door to the house, so, although Tulips are short lived, I get to enjoy them everday whilst they are in bloom.

Elsewhere in the garden, my tomato seedlings are slowly growing.  The other day I potted on about 50 of my “Ian’s Red Cherry”.  I was very pleased about this as I thought I had lost all the seed to mice in last years mouse attack, but, happily, I found a canister of seeds which were a couple of years old.   As tomato seeds are well known for their survivability, I decided to give them a try.   Hopefully, I’ll now have enough tomatoes to save seed from later in the year.

I also have both Marmande and Moneymaker seedlings waiting to be potted on which I expect to be doing this week.

Earlier in the week, I found a few berry bushes being sold off for less than 2€ each and bought some.  I had an issue with my labelling of the black currant and blackberry bushes…  OK, I labelled them both as blackberry by mistake… but, once they fruit I’ll know which is which.  I’ve planted them and also a gooseberry bush I bought at the same time.

I also bought a couple of raspberries from the same place, but they are intensive care due to violent abuse before I took charge of them.   Another thing I bought recently, which is also in intensive care was a small olive tree.    I don’t think it had been watered for many months when I took it over.

The bulk of my work at the moment is directed along two paths.     The boundary hedges are in a pretty terrible condition and I’m investing a lot of time in restoring them.   The second path is simply weeding and grass cutting!      Sadly, my ill health last year meant that I didn’t get to do very much in the garden and, therefore, I have my work cut out this year to restore order.

In the orchard, the pear and cherry trees are in blossom and the apples are not far behind.  I noticed lots of buds on the peach and nectarine trees as well.   In the kitchen garden, Forsythia is blossoming in the corner beds.   I hope the bright yellow flowers are attracting lots of insects into the area.

Finally, I’ve also been attacking some of the large shrubs in the “park” area and am hoping they will respond to the harsh treatment.   Roses have been heavily pruned again this year.

The long drought and then severe winter have caused many of the potted shrubs to die.   Some pots froze solid even though I had moved them into an unheated workshop.   I’m keeping a careful watch on the pots, just in case there is any sign of recuperation.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Olive tree

I have been tempted back into the garden by the sudden change in the weather here, where it has gone from cold, grey and rainy to bright and sunny but still cold at night.

Olive treeI recently sowed coriander, parsley, red cabbage, and a few cherry tomatoes.  The tomatoes are Ian’s Red Cherry, which I have cultivated for several years now and my new red cabbage which I’m calling Cavolo Chereissimo, a red cabbage I’ve cultivated from saved seeds for three years now

Then, earlier in the week, I was lucky to find an odd olive tree in my local supermarket.     I was lucky, but also very surprised.

I regularly carry out my food shopping each week and, in this instance, tend to be a creature of habit…  Visit the bank, visit a small market to buy butter and milk and, sometimes, some nice cheese, then on to a rather special fresh food store where I buy fresh fruit and vegetables before finally pulling into the enormous car park of one of our main shopping malls.   The anchor store here is a very large hypermarket and serves my needs well.    

As well as food, I tend to buy all my household bits and pieces here and it was whilst picking up a pen refill that I noticed a single olive tree… looking quite lonely.

There had obviously been a pallet full of these trees but now there was just one left and, to be honest, it looked a lot healthier than trees and shrubs often do in this store.   I pondered for a second or  two, before dropping the pot into my trolley.

The plant looked very dry but apart from that it seemed ok.

I gave it some water when I got home and it has sat on the table on my terrace for the past couple of days.

I can’t decide whether to plant it direct into the garden, somewhere in my orchard or whether to pot it up into a larger planter and keep it on the patio.

I’ll let you know what I decide…