Anorack’s delight

I know there are train spotters, and birders, and bus spotters, and plane spotters. Happy minority groups of people who are passionate about collecting pictures of objects most of us ignore.  But are there compost bin spotters? Fanatic gardeners who go about the countries photographing fetching pictures of other people’s compost heaps and bins?

If there aren’t yet, I suspect I have become one. Why else would I even bother to snap a picture of my bin this morning?   It’s a box. It’s empty. There isn’t even any compost in it. But that’s the point. It is clear and ready to take all the detritus of the vegetable bed.

My day actually started with a bit of pruning of the vines in the courtyard. Long tendrils were snaking their way in the wrong directions. Some even blocking the way down the steps to the pool. So some were pruned, others tied up and everything looking rather neat and tidy. And they are serving a good purpose. It’s hot today. We are going to enjoy this shade.

And one of the discoveries of the pruning was finding a whole crop of triffids, sorry, hollyhocks hiding behind the vines on the wall. Out they came and into a vase they went. Weeds for the house, fancy that.

I put off getting the mower out by having some fun with the climbing beans.   Now that we are installed for ten days there is no point having protective nets over everything. Especially as they can easily be breached by a determined deer. So I lifted off the net and found that some of the beans have grown through them in just two weeks. Clever creatures, they will attach themselves to anything. So now all the beans are climbing the right way.

And then it was on to the machine. (Gad this list of achievements sounds dull today. Perhaps spending too much time under the ear muffs in this heat has addled my brain.)

The main lawn, the approach to the house and the track leading up to the pool were transformed into a picture of neatness in no time. Well, an hour or so, but who’s counting? The best bit is now the track below the pool. It was knee high in weeds. And not the fetching pretend they are wildflower varieties. So under the blades they went. And you can now actually stroll up the path without having to spend ages picking bits out of your clothes.

And the area we call the piano is now tamed too. It’s just the extended bit of lawn behind the pool. But if you stand up on a higher terrace and look down, it is the exact shape of a grand piano. Now that sort of comment means you will immediately look for an illustrated example. But no, you get a gloomy shady vague shape of something that could be a bit of lawn.

Sorry, too hot to trudge back out and snap a pic.

And here’s another disappointing shot. The wildflower seeds sown in April in this bit of the terrace below all the pennisetums has finally flowered. I must try harder to show the cornflowers and poppies and other pretties. But this will have to do for now.

Jan and I spent a happy hour snipping berries from the soft fruit garden. My task was to make my first ever batch of currant jelly. We have no red currants which I believe is the traditional fruit for the jelly. But I do have my body weight of black and white currants. Well, hell, if it works for doctored rose wine, then it will have to do for jam.

So in went half a kilo of black, half a kilo of white (actually pink) and here is the result. Dark jelly. But it looks gorgeous in its jar. And we didn’t have to do the tedious work of destalking the berries first. That’s my kind of jam making.

And later this afternoon (after a trip to Vernoux to buy ten kilos of sugar and yet more jars) Nicolas came over to do the mighty deed of removing the peach tree stumps.

Oh joy unbounded, we now have a blank canvas where we can ponder what to plant next. I suspect three olive trees might go well here. It will keep the lonely and very unstaked olive company. And I would much prefer to be able to harvest more olives in ten years time. Rather than eat mealy peaches that get peach leaf curl every year and break my heart when they don’t respond to the nasty chemical treatment.