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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April Calendar 2015

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April has been a good month in the garden, with mild sunny weather so a lot has been done and everything is now looking very green. No time to relax though as last night we had a frost so we had to put fleece over the peas as a precaution. The broad beans however, should be hardy enough to survive a mild frost and are under enviromesh which gives some protection. The strange twine construct over the shallots and the potato bed is to deter our cat! Today, more potatoes to plant, main crop “Sarpo Mira” a blight resistant variety.

The week ahead look more changeable with the temperature rising into the low 20s again, but with more rain.

Looking south

Looking south

Looking north

Looking north

Three ways with wild garlic

The wild garlic we planted two years ago is now growing strongly in the garden and so we were lucky this month to get our first leaves off the plants.

They have a mild garlic/strong leek flavour and we used them in three different meals.

All recipes serve 2 people.

Wild garlic risotto

I have always made risottos using Jamie Olivers basic recipe from “Jamie’s Italy” but I only use this as a guide and below is my amended recipe.

Ingredients

6 ounces (170 grammes) arborio rice

1 onion

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1 small glass of white wine

1 pint (500ml) of vegatable stock (I use cubes)

handful of wild garlic leaves (to taste) roughly chopped

parmesan cheese

Method

In a large pan, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until tranlucent but not brown.

Add the rice and the wine, and cook the wine out.

Then add a ladle full of stock and cook out, repeat until the rice is cooked and the risotto has a thick soupy consistency. Do not let the risotto dry out!

Add the wild garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add a good handful of grated parmesan, and season to taste.

Take of the heat and place a lid on the pan.

Leave for 3 minutes then serve.

 

Wild Garlic Omelette


I’m not going to tell you how to make an omelette!

Just add a handful of wild garlic leaves to the beaten egg.

I also dot with goats cheese and finish the omelette off under a grill.

 

Wild Garlic Pasta


Ingredients

6 ozs (170 grammes) pasta ( I usually use wholemeal penne for this recipe)

4/5 anchovy fillets in oil

1 or 2 garlic cloves

4/5 chilli flakes

6/8 cherry tomatos or similiar

handful of wild garlic leaves

parmesan cheese

Method

Prepare the pasta as per its cooking instructions.

Meanwhile heat the anchovies and garlic until the fillets melt and the garlic is cooked but not burnt.

Add the tomatoes and cook until you have a thickish sauce consistency.

Add the wild garlic leaves and cook for a couple of minutes.

Drain the pasta and add to the other ingredients.

Serve into bowls and add some grated parmesan.