The signature crop

If you ask a French person what the Ardeche means to them, they will probably answer ‘Gorges’ and then tell you that the chestnuts from the Ardeche are the best in France. Other regions have apples, wine or specialty cheeses. We have the chestnut, and it has an appellation controllee. Which means that the farmers get a protected and premium price for their harvest; and punters come in their droves and nick the nuts that fall by the road.

Not a good harvest this year apparently, but the crop that has been falling on the roof of the potting shed (quite a thump and noise when you least expect it) and onto the ground around the shed has been cumbersome indeed. These future flower gardens and dramatic sweeps of grasses and plants are going to be swamped each year in knee deep chestnut leaves, nuts and prickly shells. I guess I will just have to incorporate it into the annual chores. And eat as many as we can to get some value from them.

I made a small compost bin (out of two more wooden pallets) up here to try and corral the leaves. And in about a year’s time they will be a lovely soil conditioner. But, oh the effort. Mind you the discovery of this chestnut crop has been a salutory lesson. Know your garden site before planting anything. You can stand looking down all your like trying to work out what plant goes where; but look up and this is what you see. Shade, shade, shade indeed.

Chastened, it was back to the drawing board to try and come up with shade tolerant plants, rather than those magnificent perennials that grow to two metres tall and thrive in full sun.

And then I realised that I had yet more bulbs to plant. Down to the wisteria bed to put in yet more white tulips and scented narcissus (it was crying out for a prune and a weed). And then heave my sack of Allium Purple Sensation bulbs down to the herb bed. How many more can I cram in here? Spring will show if I have been too extravagant.

And look who was waiting for a daily apple dose? They breed like rabbits up here.