Category Archives: Gardening

Ça Sent la Rose

  Roses must have one of the loveliest scents of all flowers. They have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years and thousands of varieties now exist. Unfortunately, they don’t do well here in our poor soil and they didn’t … Continue reading

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Getting the Garden Back in Trim

  What a lovely time of year this is when the weather is fine! At last, after months of gloom and damp, the past few days have been not just spring like, but summery. It’s forecast to continue for the … Continue reading

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Monet’s Garden at Giverny

  Most people have heard of Claude Monet (1840-1926), one of the founders of French Impressionist painting. Many people know about and/or have visited his house at Giverny in Normandy, where he landscaped the gardens and developed the lily ponds … Continue reading

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Les Jardins de Quercy Revisited

Gardening in our region is not easy. The soil is poor and stony and the climate can be freezing in winter and baking in summer. Plants either thrive or decline, but you have to wait three years to find out. … Continue reading

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Gardens and SW France Weather May 2014

In early June every year, Rendezvous aux Jardins (national gardens weekend) takes place. We make a point of visiting at least one garden during the event. I normally leave green (appropriately) with envy and wish that my garden looked anywhere … Continue reading

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Sweet Lavender

  Which part of France do we normally associate with lavender? Provence, naturally, where it plays a big part in the perfume and essential oils industry. But did you know that 10% of French lavender production at the start of … Continue reading

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Moles!

Living en pleine campagne, the animal kingdom is in daily evidence. Some animals are more welcome than others. The baby hedgehogs living under a bush by our kitchen door, the red squirrels and the hares are delightful. I love to … Continue reading

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SW France Weather June 2013 & Garden Pix

‘What can I say about the weather down here in [month] that is repeatable in polite company?’ About which month did I write this? Answer: May. About which other months in 2013 could I have written it? Answer: January, February, … Continue reading

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Geraniums

Wrought iron balconies decked with glowing geraniums are evocative of France for me – and for many others, I suspect. So after such a grey and damp winter, it was nice to introduce a touch of summer by making our … Continue reading

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Seven Signs of Spring in SW France

Spring has taken a long time to arrive this year. Everything is coming out very late and the weather – up till this weekend – has generally been cooler than normal. However, we saw incontrovertible signs that spring is here … Continue reading

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Nature Comes Back to Life

I am constantly amazed at nature’s ability for regeneration. Following the longest and most rigorous cold snap in 25 years, everything outside looked dead. I gazed out glumly on the brown, seared leaves of my shrubs and anticipated having to … Continue reading

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Violets in Toulouse, la Ville Rose

The imposing pink-brick buildings of Toulouse have earned it the nickname ‘la ville rose’. But the city’s emblem is the delicate violet, la violette ‘Parme de Toulouse’. Throughout February, at the peak of the flowering period, the city celebrates the … Continue reading

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Tomatoes and Tomato Recipes

How about these for tomatoes? Each one is about 14 centimetres in diameter and weighs around a kilo. None of your shop-bought imitations – perfectly symmetrical, dosed to the pips with noxious substances and tasting like cotton wool. And just … Continue reading

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Dry gardening

I’m back on stream again, having had awful computer problems recently. This explains the lack of posts in the last week or so. These were solved only by investing in a new one. It’s a real luxury for the moment … Continue reading

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Bee glad

Last week was cold, grey, damp and utterly depressing, as it can be in February here. To the insult of greyness was sometimes added the injury of pluie verglaçante (freezing rain). This was not a week for venturing out. We didn’t … Continue reading

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Wood, glorious wood!

One of our autumn rituals is cutting and stacking the wood that we will burn over the winter. We use a lot of wood, despite the fact that we also have central heating.

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The sting

No, not the film with the divine Paul Newman and the almost equally divine Robert Redford. I’m talking about the plague of wasps terrorising our area. We thought it was just around our place, but so many other people have … Continue reading

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Glorious French gardens

I’m not talking about the big formal gardens of Versailles or Villandry, but about gardens that their owners have created and carefully tended. Last weekend was Rendez-Vous Aux Jardins in France. Thousands of gardens, big and small, formal and informal, from … Continue reading

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How to garden in France: which plants do well?

A writer’s lot in France suggests a selection of plants and shrubs that tolerate drought and frost conditions in southwest France. Continue reading

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How to garden in France: getting started

Gardening in southwest France is not always easy, says A writer’s lot in France, but following a few simple rules will help you create the garden you want. Continue reading

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