Anniversary of the flood


Demob happy. I have put away the 14th century for a bit and am emerging, blinking, into the 21st.

And isn’t it glorious. Farewell the nasty, brutish and short years of 1334 and hello farm with the delights of broadband for laptops, electricity, phones. All the toys.


I should have finished my work a bit earlier this week (sorry John). But I bunked off work on Tuesday and went down to Andrew’s.

And on the way I drove into a biblical rain storm that immediately took me back three years to our very own biblical storm here on the mountain top.


I had checked météo France’s official website before I left; but I should have ventured onto Do have a look at if  you want to see lighting and storms happening in real-time. It’s marvellous if it’s not directed towards your part of the world.

dsc00864Andrew called me to warn me not to come down, but I had already left. And unplugged my phone and modem and laptop and tv.

This is a standard autumn precaution for us.  Winter wet, summer dry is our climate. And we get these monster storms in autumn.  The air is too warm, the storms build up in the mediterranean and the clash of the two results in the most incredible downpours when the rain has to fall on the Cevennes and the Ardèche mountains inland from the coast.

new-wall-shade-gardenOrographic rainfall. Not bad remembering that from Mrs Linda Vining’s geography class in 1977.

They call it an épisode cevennol.  And I think we have had about five in the past nine years.

But none as bad as 2013.

shade-garden-bank-after-floodI sound like one of those old codgers who strokes their chin, looks up at the sky and says:  ‘nah, call this a storm; it wasn’t as bad as the flood of 13’.

But nothing is!

file-thyme-bankI’m adding the flood pictures here at the top of the story and focussing on the shade garden bank so you can see first the devastation of the rain that came roaring down our garden.  Most of this flood water took out the top vegetable garden, the hedge, my shade garden which you can see here, the courtyard, the lower potager, and brought down a beautiful stone wall in front of the plums.  Most of the flood water ended up in our swimming pool one terrace below.

shrubs-back-inAnd then there was so much water that it continued after that slight detour to erode two more terraces down the mountain.

And all this damage happened in just a few hours of relentless rain.

weeded-shade-bankYears later I still find muscari and daffodil bulbs growing merrily 100 metres beyond where they were planted.

And only last week I was building up a large gap in one of the terraces in the orchard which was washed away.


I think it took about six solid months of work to get the worst of the damage repaired.  But this week I finally got round to sorting out the shade garden bank which had been languishing a bit unloved since the flood.

I had a stop gap measure for the first year – all the beautiful thymes which were in the plum bank adorning the edge of the stone wall had to go somewhere.


So I shoved them here on the bank. But they had all suffered so much flood damage that the roots suffered.  And I didn’t lavish enough care in the hot summers that followed.

The hose doesn’t reach. And I’m not mad keen on struggling with a heavy watering can to give the plants the love they need.


Bulbs work brilliantly. And self-sown honesty plants.  Euphorbias in spring can mask a lot of structural problems.


But I need proper planting here – shrubs, perennials, anything to rebuild the hastily repaired damage of 2013.


I had some leftovers from the orchard bank planting. So out came the sad dying thymes (onto the compost heap).


And in went some ballota, and purple sages. My favourite santolinas – both the electric green Primrose Gem, and the grey variety whose name escapes me.


Well, with the internet nothing escapes for long. But I need to get on and tidy away my books and notes from the film research project and actually get out a proper garden plan for the potager next year.


Oh yes, and I am using the rather ubiquitous stachys byzantina as a ground cover to knit the bank together. That’s the rather glaring grey clump you see here in the shot.


It’s a bit invasive. But frankly, with the disaster of this poor garden after the flood, I’ll take a plant invasion any day.

And on that note, time to have a look at all these tulip varieties I have brought back from Andrew’s and work out where they should go.