Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Glorious spring days....

I think this is my favourite time of year; it always seems to me to be miraculous how, after months of dreary, bleak winter days, so many plants burst into life, changing all the colours around us.  And we have been exceptionally lucky here this spring, with much of March and April being gloriously sunny and warm.  The garden is looking so colourful now with most of the trees in leaf and/or blossom and flower buds beginning to open up. 

You may remember the flower bed I had dug in the autumn (I call it my "eye" bed as the shape is oval like a big eye!)  This is now really coming to life as you can see.  On the left hand side are some gorgeous deep purple tulips that we put in back in the autumn and I love them so much, I think I'll plant more this year!

I think the front garden always looks beautiful at this time of year and although I've put pictures of it on here before, I can't resist putting another one on now.  I took this photo this very afternoon...

Anyway, one of the reasons I'm telling you about the beautiful weather, is because it's why Danny and I have been doing lots of things outdoors.  It seems almost a crime to be indoors when the weather is so good and there is no shortage of jobs to do in the garden!

I wonder if you can guess what Danny might have been doing from this picture of Finn....
Well, you might have concluded that Danny was painting something in blue and you'd be right!  He has started to build the shed that will be our "pool house".  This is the building in which the pump, control box and other pool supplies will be kept.  We think it will be big enough also to keep things like sunbeds in over the winter months.  Anyway, Danny has been working on it for the last couple of days, having painted the back panels first as he wouldn't have been able to get to them once it's built.

Here's the shed gradually coming into being...

(Danny hopes to finish it tomorrow and then we'll be painting it.  I say "we" because I'm always happy to do a bit of painting although I wouldn't mind betting that Danny will prefer to do it himself!)

Before he started on the shed, Danny put up a 'fruit cage' near the bottom of the garden.  I love the soft fruits of summer and it was something of a surprise to me when we first moved here that there isn't an abundance of cheap soft fruit to buy.  (A bit like the shock of finding the lack of fresh herbs!)  A French friend of mine explained that this is a very traditional area in which there is little change so that year on year the fruit grown in the area is mainly apples and pears.  I have come to the conclusion that the local French people must grow soft fruit themselves.... probably along with the fresh herbs!  Hence the decision to grow fruit and have the fruit cage, which is designed to keep out the birds!  The cage itself was left by the previous owners of our house and they used it for their cat!  (The house was a holiday home to which they would come for a couple of months at a time, bringing the cat with them.  I believe the cat was only allowed outside if it was in its cage!). 
Danny had to adapt the cage to give me a full size door -  I'm a bit too  large for even the somewhat generous cat entrance it had!  But having done so, and having erected it for me, I have now planted raspberries, a blackberry and several strawberries.  It's a long walk to water it but that's going to be a small price to pay for what I hope is an abundance of soft fruit this summer.  And I can use the exercise!!  Here I am watering in the fruit cage...

On the subject of growing things, I have now started planting in my potager (kitchen garden).  I'm not sure I've spent enough time (or energy) digging the earth in there but time will tell and this is going to be something of an experimental year to see what works and what doesn't.  So far, I have planted seed potatoes, beetroot, onions and red onions in one of the raised beds.  In the other, I currently have only some lettuce that our builder, John, gave me and some cherry tomatoes. 

By the way, the green netting over the beds is to deter the dogs from running all over them.  We'll have to see if it works!

As the earth is not as finely tilled as I think it ought to be, I have sown seeds of radish, sweet peppers, spring onions, lettuce and squash in seed trays with the intention of planting them out once they are more established.  And as  I have put my geraniums back in their window boxes, I have the mini greenhouse available for my seeds...

And that's about it for now!

Just one last thing... I subscribe to a weekly newsletter from a website called The Good Life France.  It features all sorts of things about France and I was invited to write a 'guest post' for them.  I am delighted to say that the piece I wrote has now been published and if you weren't already aware of it, you can read it here

Enjoy your spring wherever you are!

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