Get thee to the shrubbery

top soil to top bedSo, one is deigning to write a blog post this week. Let’s see, arrive Monday, only get round to writing things on Thursday night. Shocking.

But I feel as though I’ve been driving round the south east of France for three days now, and haven’t even put a foot in the garden.

Well, I’ve been up to the potting shed to see where Artur is perching (new nest, soft fleeces, in the sunshine).  But otherwise it’s just car journeys.

And how committed can one be to Ikea? It’s a four hour round trip. All the way to Grenoble at the foot of the Alps.  Then one day for building bookshelves and filing cabinets, rearranging the office, unfurling rugs, unstacking a dozen boxes for new storage. And then back into the car for the four hour round trip today to the tree nursery in Aubenas and then down to Andrew to pick up plants. And be treated to lunch at the Auberge de Banne. Lucky me. top road culvert

I have exciting goodies for the shade garden, now that the flood defences are secure.

But I unpacked them in the dark and in the rain tonight. And I’m reeliing and rocking from driving in the dark, in the driving rain, occasional fog banks, boy racers overtaking on blind corners. All the usual fun and games.   So there is no chance to gloat.  But here is the list:

Eurphorbia Mrs Robb’s Bonnet x 12
Iris Foetidissima x 20
Hemerocallis Gentle Shepherd x 12
Helleborus x sternii Boughton x 5
Hemerocallis Corky x 3
Sedum Carl x 10

new road surfaceAnd in another large exciting package are my Cochet trees. Frederic Cochet is one of those great plantsmen who has a passion for ancient varieties of fruit trees from the Ardeche and Cevennes.  He matches trees according to your region, altitude, soil type and weather patterns.  Sometimes he will find trees that are bred in other parts of Europe that would suit our gardens and orchards.  And no, he still won’t sell me a pear tree.

But here is what I picked up today:

Apple Cousteau Vincent
Apple Reinette du mnas
Plum Perdigone
Plum Mirabelle de metz
Cherry tree Hedlfingen

And in my spare time I have 20 new strawberry plants (to replace the ones swept away by the flood) and three blackcurrants (noir de bourgogne) to plant.

The apple trees can go on a second tier in the orchard, and the plums will go near the ailing mirabelles up in the shade garden.  I can’t work out where to put the black currants as I lost so much of my soft fruit orchard. So I suspect they will go up to the top vegetable garden until I can clone myself and do twice the work in the days of daylight I have to work.

The best bit about coming back on Monday was to see that M. Dumont had done another day’s work with the bulldozer.  Endless shots of culverts and drainage ditches unapologetically peppered throughout this post.  They are a novelty for us. top road culvert 1

And he carried the topsoil up to the denuded bed where the hedge once was. I only had a quick look but it feels as if those endless barrow loads of soil don’t amount to much now that they are in situ.

I pictured this huge mountain of soil, ready to be ferried about three beds (the walnut bed, the shade garden, the hedge).  It’s possible that the bulldozer packed the soil down tightly and I just need to have a dig and unearth (sorry) some and redistribute.

But that was my Monday thought and I haven’t been out to play with my bucket and spade for days. Perhaps this weekend I’ll be able to turn into a gardener again. Enough driving.