June Calendar 2015

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It’s been a very warm and dry June this year and everything in the garden is growing away madly. We have had our first new potatoes “Belle de Fontenay”, though I’d like them a little larger, so I’ll wait a couple of weeks longer before digging any more.

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belle de fontenay

The strawberries have had a fantastic season, and we have had strawberries to eat every day for most of this month and I’ve made about ten jars of jam.

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gariguette

The red and black currants are now nearly over, but the blueberries are just ripening, so we will still have some soft fruit. We made red currant cordial with some of the currants which is excellent in water and lovely in prosecco or cremant.

In the vegetable garden the rocombales are setting nicely and the jerusalem artichokes are appreciating being moved into a sunnier spot.

Lots of flowers at the moment though the stars are the Foxglove “Alba”.

Foxglove

Foxglove “Alba”

May Calendar 2015

tomatoes

tomatoes

looking south

looking south in early may

It’s been a very dry May here and we have had to water the plants on many occasions due to the heat. The picture above shows the Belle de Fontenay early potatoes at the start of the month, the difference today can be seen in the picture below.

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belle de fontenay potatoes

All the main crops are out now with only the borlotti beans hardening off to be planted up next week, though we have the bed and canes all ready for them.

looking north over the pea and bean beds

looking north over the pea and bean beds

Many flowers are now in bloom and the currant bushes are laden with fruit. A lovely site every year are the egyptian walking onions as their strange bulbils develop at the tips of the plant.

The main problem of the month has been Voles! In particular the “Campagnol Terrestre” (Arvicola terrestris). They looks cute, but inflict terrible damage in the garden. They have taken over an old mole run (caught by our cat…) in the garden and have been burrowing into the raised beds and eating our leeks, broad beans, lettuce and jerusalem artichokes from below. Our cat has been helping as she has been killing about three or four a week and I had tried some non lethal methods to discourage the voles. All to no avail, I don’t like killing things but living off a small pension we do depend on being able to grow most of our own vegetables. So a lethal “piege” has been purchased and placed into one of the underground runs. We have killed one so far on its way to the leek bed and so far the leeks are now undamaged. We will move it around the chambers to protect the other beds as required.

Château Lafayette, Haute-Loire

rose gardens and chateau

rose gardens and chateau

We spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon visiting one of the few chateau open to the public locally. Château Lafayette originally constructed in the fourteenth century, was the home of a hero of the American and French revolutions, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, better known as Marquis de Lafayette.

Often known simply as Lafayette, he was a French aristocrat and military officer who fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War. A close friend of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, Lafayette was a key figure in the French Revolution of 1789 and the July Revolution of 1830. Wikipedia

In the early twentieth century a group of wealthy philanthropists led by Scottish-born American industrialist John C. Moffat purchased the castle to serve as a centre of philanthropy for people affected by World War One. Following the war he renovated it completely to preserve documents and objects relating to General Lafayette. In a photograph in the chateau welcome area Moffat can be seen teeing off in plus fours in front of the chateau gardens!

We didn’t visit the interior, which we suspect may be slightly dull… however we spent a good hour or so wandering around the gardens. It’s a work in progress as the state have only recently taken over the running of the chateau and are committed to numerous improvements to both the house and garden. We shall definitely be visiting again later in the year when the rose garden in particular will be in full bloom.

Wild flower meadows

wild flower meadow

wild flower meadow

We have many old meadows full of wild flowers near where we live, and they are all looking particularly lovely at the moment. In a few weeks these will be cut for hay and used as fodder for the winter months, but for the moment there are a wondrous sight.

buttercup meadow

buttercup meadow

dandelion clocks

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

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We’ve decided to leave more areas of uncut grass in the garden this year, to encourage wild plants and flowers, and provide a food source for pollinating insects. We’re already seeing a wide range of species, including clover, speedwell, buttercups, herb robert, and, as you can see in the photo, dandelions.

20150505-132017The flowers are rather bright and brash, but I think the seed heads are things of beauty; delicate, fragile and ethereal.

When I was a child, we used to blow the individual seeds from the seed head (to the dismay of local gardeners, no doubt), and you were supposed to be able to tell the time from how many puffs it took. Hence dandelion clocks. I’ve only recently become aware of the idea of blowing the seeds and making a wish. I don’t know whether that’s a piece of modern folklore, or maybe just something that wasn’t local to…

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may flowers

datz:

At last, possibly some quince blossom!

Originally posted on la petite maison bijoux:

quince blossom bud quince blossom bud

March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers, according to the old rhyme. We actually had a very dry, sunny April, but nevertheless, we do indeed have a beautiful display of flowers now that May is here.

The quince tree hasn’t quite made it to full bloom yet, but we have high hopes. It’s the third spring in the garden for the quince, and this is the first time it has shown any sign of having blossom, so we’re looking forward to seeing how it looks. Also, with luck, looking forward to some fruit.

Plenty of other flowers are already looking their best.

I think that some of these might be considered weeds, strictly speaking, but we don’t tend to worry too much about that. The cowslips in particular have been amazing this year, springing up all over the garden.

The one downside of the mild…

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