Autumn apples

Back after a week away and the apples have been busy. Busy falling more than anything else. The tree that sits high on the bank above the lawn doesn’t produce very tasty fruit. But what it does produce is prodigious. I collected a hefty bucketful from the lawn. And then went up to the happy recipients of this autumn fruit.

Jean Daniel’s lawn mowers are a greedy bunch. But so delightful. I can’t distinguish between them; but I know one of these horses is called Attila, another Atticus and another Arthur. Or is that the name of the cat? Oh well. They are most entertaining company right now as they whinney and chortle and generally make a muscial accompaniment to my work in the potting shed. The shed lies right on the boundary between our properties. And now the horses see me as a walking produce section of their Ardeche supermarket, I am in demand.

There must have been a good bit of rain while I was away; the roses in the courtyard have kept up a great display. I even managed to glean enough to have a selection of three in the house. The Gertie Jeykylls are definitely the strongest scent. But the others do their bit. I was all for getting rid of the straggling rose that lurks in the corner of the courtyard and replacing it with a giant stipa (which I hauled over on the train.) It’s the rose on the right. But it is still performing, and now that it is knee height rather than triffiding all over the courtyard, it may get incorporated into the future grasses design, rather than end up on the compost heap.

The autumn flowering courtyard bulbs are doing better than anyone expected. Not bad for 99 pence in the rummaging garden bins at the local cheap store. They are of the gladiolus family. But have a more exotic name such as Abyssinian sword lily. Or did I make that up? Lovely scent too. Delicate, but definitely there. I was thinking of cutting them and bringing them indoors (Flowers For The House being a persistent mantra) but the roses are scent enough.

What has come into the house is a bumper harvest of figs. Goodness that tree is putting on a late burst. I don’t recall this many in the first flush in the summer. Looks like I am going to have to rustle up some jam. I couldn’t possibly eat my way through this crop without dire consequences in the time it would take them to go mouldy and off. Here is another shot of the lovely roses. Could’t resist.

Nicolas has been at work while we have been away from the house. He has sown the seeds on the lawn at the end of the pool. It’s an area we call the piano as it has the shape of a grand piano. We will have to keep off it while the little seeds germinate. Quite exciting to think that another part of this mighty garden has been tamed.

He has made a start on the little retaining wall that will follow the steps up from the pool. I had rather hoped the era of slow wall work was over. But the last floods have made us realise that we need to keep these banks well secured. Hopefully as it is a low wall it won’t take as long as our great wall of China below the pool. I’m so keen for Nicolas to help with the more creative landscaping of future flower beds that I get antsy waiting.

I have now moved into the more creative phase of this garden. (Well that’s quite a boast, but it feels real). I have started on lists of garden flowers and grasses and am going to spend the winter getting proper planting plans together. One brainwave (too much tea) was to try and do something with the bank up behind the potting shed. Very hard to get a perspective of the slope. I shall try again with a picture from another angle. This is actually taken from Jean Daniel’s road. But you can see that it is crying out for something. Too too dull just to strim it twice a year. I have fantasies of Calamagrostis grasses and lots of tall perennial plants.

But first I need Nicolas to help me build steps down from the road to the shed. And then some barriers along the horizontals of the bank to create barriers for the plants. He does the steps with chestnut logs from the forest and they look very natural and simple. But clever. If all goes well we can get a few long rows of rhse wooden supports. And then we can build up the topsoil behind them and then plant like mad.

Naturally there is a lot more rock than I had first thought. That’s the problem with long distance planning. You can have it all planted up in your head, but reality is a lot more problematic.

I went inside to put the fire on, but really it feels quite mild. Sometimes you can come to the house after a week away and it feels like Siberia. But the gentle autumn afternoon was too tempting to be indoors diligently unpacking and getting sorted.

Instead I went out and tackled the lilac bed. I have extended it a few feet (shocking dry stone wall work, I know) and then filled in the bed with wheelbarrow loads of compost from the summer prunings. I had traipsed up to the very top of the drive to dump about a tonne of weeds in June. And it has turned into a mighty mulch. Good exercise bringing it all back down again. (Will I never learn to plan? I do recall thinking that I could do with another compost bin near the lower vegetable bed, but Bernard was busy and it was summer and the weeds had to be dumped somewhere.)

I haven’t finished filling in the bed. And it will need some topsoil (filched from somewhere), but it’s a work in progress. And on that note. Time for tea.