Hose hell

Right, think of the relentlessly positive things that happened today. I have finished planting 51 Pennisetum Alopecuroides grasses in the bank above the pool. Poor little things do look forlorn right now. But they have had a soaking of water and hopefully they will survive the next ten days. I have sowed two long rows of carrots in the last little quadrant of the potato bed: Creme de Lite, Yellowstone, and Sugarsnax. I left a row in between for the marigold Red Brocade which are germinating in a seed tray as I type.

I have been to Gamm Vert and bought a few bamboo canes for the climbing French beans (had to order a dozen as they only had three in stock) as well as some more potting mix for the flower seeds that are to come.

It was market day today so Vernoux was positively animated; as was our favourite baker’s wife. So that was great. But the rest of the days seems to have consisted of momentous struggles with hoses and connectors and water and almost sobbing with frustration at my failure to achieve. We have one tap for the entire property. We have one long hose. One hundred feet of heavy cheery yellow material that has to be hauled about to reach the new parts of the garden that I have planted. Except it doesn’t reach. I need fifty more feet. I found the hose. I found a positive cornucopia of connectors and hose accoutrements. But not one fits. I had leaks and gushing uncouplings, and a soaking and still didn’t manage to water where I needed.

I stomped in for a quick lunch and went up to the shed to calm down. So now I have joined the ranks of Those Who Need to Hide in a Shed. I sowed Persicaria Bistorta seeds from the RHS box of tricks. So too Gaura and Geranium Summer Snow. Then did a few more Purpees Golden Globe beetroot and a large tray of mizuna lettuce.

I have plenty of miscanthus sinensis thanks to picking up ten plants from the plant nursery in the Drome. These went into the new bed at the entrance to the Calabert. It is to be the start of our mini wildflower garden. It’s probably not the best spot for them; but they can’t just sit and sulk in their pots and dry out. So this is their bed this year.

I couldn’t resist sowing a bit more of the pillow case load of miscanthus I have from the plants in the courtyard in London. Naturally there was a light breeze blowing through the gaps in the shed as I did it. So who knows where this lovely miscanthus grass will turn up next.

With a long afternoon of sunshine I then planted out the Nepeta Six Hills Giant plants that were frankly gasping in their pots. They may or may not line the path of the Shade Garden. I just have to see what sort of canopy the pruned chestnut will now throw. By my calculations they should be in good sunshine for most of the day. But there is a small cherry lurking nearby and it may give a bit of shade too.

I had a few Pennisetums left over from the massive wall of grasses, so I wheeled the barrow down to the terrace below the pool and hoiked into the barrow the eleven eragrostis curvula plants which Andrew kindly found for me at his local market. Very handsome beasts they are too and have good naturalising properties. (Well, some may call them thugs, but that is the effect I am hoping for.)

The lower terrace has runnels from water flowing down the mountain side in the autumn storms. And I would dearly love to dump a few cubic metres of topsoil in behind the wall to build up its level. But I don’t have it, so I have bravely (or foolishly) planted the fast growing grasses in the bank where they may be washed away next flood. Or will valiantly slow down the erosion with their roots.

I was quite pleased with the plants once they were in. But then cast my gaze up the wall and into the distance to the end. Blimey, it’s going to take about 80 more plants to finish the whole terrace. And I have ordered 150 for the top bank but not the lower one. I had thought to put miscanthus down there (there are those ten that just a few hours earlier went into a temporary bed). But I don’t feel there is any point in madly mixing up the grasses. The best effect, I think, will come from a mass planting of just the Pennisetums. And the miscanthus are rather upright and brutish. But I can always change my mind. Thank goodness grasses are tolerant of amateur gardeners.

And that’s it for this tranche of gardening. I have the vegetables in and plenty to take back. I have just planted all the stipas that overwintered in the front of the potting shed. This is fast becoming a trial bed again. But at least they are better here than in pots inside. The weather is warming up and I don’t relish coming back to crisp cadavers.

And can concentrate next trip on planting the bank above the pool and finally sorting the watering. And this time without tantrums and turning the Ardeche air blue.