Garden companions

artur terrace workI often think of this as a solitary endeavour.  Just me and the garden and the farm.  But today as I was working in the terrace bank I realised I wasn’t alone.  I had my two favourite garden companions close by – Artur and Ulysse.

Ulysse was looming over the fence watching my every move. Waiting for me to pull an apple out of my pocket no doubt. But happy to hang about.

And Artur, bless him, is a touch clingy right now: what he really wants is for me to go into the house and sit right in front of the fire so he can perch on my lap and snooze.

But that’s not going to happen when the weather is still gorgeous and I can ‘get on’. artur sowing seeds

I was moving plants today.  Out came the peonies, the lychnis, the gaura, agastache and some unwanted asters that were in the terrace bank.  I have been trying to move all the flowering plants down into the potager.  The cut flower bed is growing.  And is getting crammed. But that’s fine. I love a flowery jungle.

But not up at the terrace bank. There I’m trying to ‘edit’ the selection.

And that brings me to more garden companions: there are so many of you who have an influence on how I garden.  And whenever I say the word ‘edi’t I think of my dear friend Andrew Wilkie.

I will never forget the day he was standing in the mess that was my shade garden looking around at the mess of plants crammed in. Some were leftovers from designs I had started years earlier and had failed. Others were attempts to improve the disastrous situation.  He stood very still, looked up and then gently said ‘I think we could really edit this area’. Bless.

Andrew arrivingEvery few months he will come up to this garden bearing gifts; and his wisdom and fine eye.  He sees potential where I despair and comes up with brilliant solutions to many of my garden problems.

Not to mention our daily garden conversation. Those of us in la France profonde are so grateful for our email connection.

And there are many of you who will log on to my site to see what I’m up to. I love it when you comment on stories that I write.

Sarah never fails to respond to the vivid colours of the cutting garden which is no surprise as she is quite the colourist in her art.

And my greatest pleasure this year has been finding another Aussie gardener here in France – Lisa, you are a delight when you write and I look forward to your emails with such pleasure.

I’m learning what it is like to garden in the western side of this amazing country. And who knew the Gers could supply such extoardinary characters?finished_hedge

I know, too, that many of you will read but never think of clicking to reply. Dan and Katherine in Wisonsin who will read about my moaning about the weather here in winter when their garden is already buried under feet of snow.

Or those of you who write to complain that Artur has been missing from my blogs.  Bronwen keeps count. As does my Dad.

When I look back on the year that I have had in the garden it started so well. I was zooming away with chores and plans and plants. I’m amazed when I look back and read (that rarely happens, unless I’m rummaging for something I think I did in May) all the exploits.

lettuce boltingThen June hit and with it a drought and heatwave that lasted all summer.  I flopped in the heat. And the garden just had to hang on.  Some plants died, and I resorted to watering a few of the trees.

But with September rains I could emerge from the cool of the house and survey the damage and see things struggle back into life.  Thank goodness for an automatic watering system in the potager.  And thank goodness my shrubs have roots so deep they don’t need close nurturing. I was dismayed to see my wonderfun Pannicum grass go so crispy and barely recover.

But I missed so many normal milestones. Lavender flowering in profusion? Quinces and plums.  Asters that curled up and died before they had a chance to flower. Lettuce? After June? Everything bolted.  Only the rocket rocked.

I have endless plans for more improvements this winter.  And even ones for spring.  An alley of cherry trees on both sides of the road? Surely a farm can have more than 45 cherry trees.

More fruit trees from Cochet and Filippi lavender plants; more cabbage moth protection for my brassicas.  The list is endless. As is the fun.

But it wouldn’t be so without such faithful and interested companions. So I wanted to send you all a very special thank you. Having so many people peering over the hedge makes it all worthwhile.