The catch up

thyme lower terraces detailI keep writing that and then never getting the time to do much. But I must, so let’s plunge in.

The thyme on terraces theme continues on the lower terraces this year. A sumptuous carpet of pink. It’s a bit of a shame that there are brambles poking through, but the effect from afar is lovely. thyme lower terraces

We came down here for a walk yesterday to inspect the potential dead tree work for our house guest Fenning.   Such an advantage to have forester friends who can wield the chain saw and lop away.

fenning chain sawingI had plenty marked out for felling. These are the ones you spot on the terrace while you are eating lunch or dinner and it irks.

So this morning out came the kevlar and the special kit and the machine.   In no time there were dead trees down, elderflower bushes removed that were just skeletons, and most importantly, all the branches cleared away from the electricity lines. thyme lower terraces 1

chainsaw tree workOur electricity company EDF do this work periodically, but their idea of lopping is more of the slash and abandon.   They never warn you they are coming and they fell way too much and rather indiscriminately.

So there is a carefully sawn pile of winter work ahead for us.   And lovely branches for me to chip when I get some time.

honesty beforeAnd while we were stalking the paths down on this part of the forgotten land, I found lots of honesty plants in among the trees. I was amazed they weren’t battered to nothingness after the great rain stom on Saturday night.   But no, proud and dessicated and just ready for peeling.

This is a lovely job: Gillie and I took bunches up to the potting shed and had a happy hour peeling back the outer papery layers of the dried plants to reveal the translucent mother of pearl layer underneath. honesty during

In French it’s called Pope’s coin. Monnaie de pape. And silver dollars I think in English. Or just Honesty.   And you get hundreds of seeds to scatter for the next year ‘s crop.   Well the year after. It’s a biennial plant.

honesty afterWhatever its name it makes a perfect display for a vase. And lasts until you notice it is covered in a fine film of dust, try to vacuum it off, and lose all the leaves.

Oh yes, and exciting picture of poo for you.   We think we have found evidence of a badger on our lower terraces.   Tracks, fur samples left on branches and most tellingly, a little territorial pile of badger poo to say – this is my area, find your own. Too exciting. badger poo

What we will need to do is get hold of an infra red camera so we can take pictures in the night of the activity.   I did think I heard a deer (roe) earlier in the week as well.   The mulberry tree on the lower terrace is fruiting. And that usually brings in a small crowd of wild life.

lawn mid aug 1The fruit is so extraordinarily sweet. And drops on the ground in great heaps.   But it was too dark to see. I just hear a few deer like coughs and then the swishing of an animal ambling off.

What other excitng shots can I show you? And you can’t say you aren’t spoilt when you get the close up of the badger skat. lawn mid aug from above

lawn mid augThe lawn is back to almost lush.   The resown grass seeds have germinated and everything looks almost marvellous again.   I still have a few gaps to work on, but the overall effect is simply smeshing. An English lawn in the Ardeche, who would bother?

more santolina cuttingsFar better to get on with the mediterranean plants. So with that in mind I took yet more santolina cuttings yesterday.   Hopefully I will get some plants from the dozens and dozens that I have been cutting and storing under the benches in the potting shed.

But it does give me a chance to commune with the cat a bit.   He isn’t pleased with having his routine distburbed with house guests. And in fact he didn’t even deign to say hello to me. I sat in the chaise longue with a cup of tea, a slice of orange and almond cake, a magazine and a come hither and sit on my lap look.   But he refused. Just vants to be alone. artur blissfully asleep

Ah well. I hope next week we’ll  be friends again. He is sort of getting used to the being shut out at night routine. But it’s early days.

seed sowingI also managed a bit of sneaky sowing before going up to the forest. Some bupleurums, some eragrostis curvula (harvested from the grasses on the bank below the pool as I walked past), and I potted on yet more perilla and fennel.

I haven’t quite worked out what to do with the perilla. I know that I was given it as a present from a Japanese friend who assures me it is a vital part of Japanese cooking. Sarah Ravel uses it as an edging plant in her potager. I guess I’ll just let it grow on and then decide. perilla growing on

It is a handsome little plant.

lilac suckers beforeOther excitements on la ferme ornee? We cut out the suckers around the lilac tree. That was something I have been meaning to do for ages. And it looks so much tidier now that it’s done.   This suckering habit hasn’t endeared me to this fey white flowering lilac.   The most we get out of it is about two weeks of white flowers followed by dead looking brown. lilac suckers after

And as the tree is so tall and skinny I can never dead head enough to make it attractive.   But I haven’t a replacement yet. White hydrangeas would be lovely. But not this year.

broad beans for dinnerThe green of the suckering plant is rather fetching, but I’d much rather be admiring the lime green of tonight’s bean haul for dinner. The production is coming along nicely now.   Every second day I can go down and get a good amount for four for dinner.

And on that show off note, I shall sign off for the night.