This post marks an anniversary. A ten-year anniversary of writing about this garden and farm. And how spooky that it’s the 2000th time I’ve sat to the keyboard and launched forth.
It’s frightening really. If you keep a diary (and I urge you to do so) you will know the tremendous sense of satisfaction you get from recording what is often the mundane or just the passing day. It takes discipline of course, but the accumulation of information or news or just musing is priceless.
I couldn’t possibly remember just how much work I have put into these acres of French land without the thrice weekly photo essays.
Goodness, I used to post every single day for a few years. What was I thinking? Actually I could ask, what was I doing with my leisure time, always writing up after a hard day’s work. I seem to recall my old life as a voracious reader was over.
Because this farm represents the hardest physical work I have ever undertaken. But also my most satisfying achievement. I was lolling on the train journey from London today plotting what I was going to write.
You might have thought I was fast asleep all tucked up in French train luxury. But honest, it was a reflective trip.
I used to cook. Obsessively so. Cooking writer, foodie, entertainer; all my reading and passion seemed to entail what I was going to cook or eat. (I still wake up with delight each morning knowing that I’m going to devour and enjoy great food.)
But gradually I started to realize just how ephemeral the art of cooking or eating had become. It is still a huge part of my life; but once I started to grow my own food to eat, it was the slippery slope to obsessed gardener-dom.
And the creativity of sowing and growing plants and landscaping a space is so addictive. Especially when you start out as a complete novice. You could claim that it is also an ephemeral art, but the transformation I have managed on this mountain farm ought to outlive me.
It is never a finished process. You can sit back and admire your handiwork for a day, a week, sometimes a season. But rarely more than a year, before it’s time to work out what went right or wrong or needs tweaking. And you are always learning.
And although I do this garden all on my own. I have always had great advice from friends like Andrew and Leslie; and the incalculable skills of local wall builder and horticulturist Nicolas.
The five or six days a year he comes to build a few more walls or laugh at my poor pruning of orchard trees, or fix my inexpertly built fences makes all the difference to the structure of this garden.
Elodie, my friend in the next village is always willing to pop in and water, and Jean Daniel never fails to ask what needs doing to get the crops into the ground. We are three weeks away from full on aspargus season which I hope is reward for his generosity and kindness.
Sarah and Andrew get to read in (possibly exhaustive) detail my struggles by email. Daily.
And you can’t see this garden without my little potting shed companion. I’m thrilled to see he is still alive after my departure earlier this month. He was positively moribund. But Jean Daniel came to the rescue; plodding down to my potting shed with tempting treats of ground steak or raw eggs beaten with a bit of milk to revive the old critter. And it worked.
The minute I drove up to the farm I was out of the car and trotting up to the shed in blazing sunshine to see if he might be snoozing. Wheezing but snoozing. And purring like mad.
So that was my day. An anniversary, a return, a walk around the garden marvelling at the Spring.
I have a long list of chores to attack tomorrow. But it can hardly be a chore when it is your passion. (Ask me that in a week when I am flattened by the job of moving hundreds of grasses, mowing the acres of lawns, chipping sticks to mulch the orchard, pricking out thousands of seedlings…)
Thank you all for reading this blog over the past ten years. I don’t know if your curiosity has been rewarded, but I love your comments and the chance meetings. How lucky am I to have a proper pen pal whom I met through these pages? Lisa, you make me write better prose and I love reading about your French life.
And I even had the delight of meeting the photographer Carla Coulson for the photo shoot in House and Gardens magazine.
And ooh look, I managed to get a shot of the cement mixer in with the narcissus on the east lawn.
Let’s hope that the next 2000 posts will have better composed photos. One can always hope.