a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Old tights, a dead tree and human hair.


On one of our walks a few weeks back we noticed something hanging in a vine field that we had never seen before.  In fact, as we got closer we could see there was more than one.  I immediately thought that packages of herbs had been suspended on the wires to ward off unwelcome insects and was curious to find out what they could be and whether it was something I could consider imitating in the garden.



The package looked as if it was home made, using recycled tights which seemed an economical method of distributing the treatment.

I thought I could hazard a guess at what the herbs might be if I took a closer look  but when I got near I could see it was not herbs but hair inside the tights.  What is more –  it definitely looked like human hair!

There is something about cut human hair that makes me shiver.  While it is still attached to someone’s head it has quite a different character but once cut; it remains human but unembodied.

A lone dead tree guarded the field, itself remarkable and stark against the horizon.

We came home with no comfortable answers to the questions we were posing ourselves.

I plucked up the courage to mention it to a few people but questions of the sort, “Do you often hang packages of human hair in the vines around here?” were getting negative responses combined with strange looks.  It was an uncomfortable feeling but it aroused my curiosity.

In the end I asked my neighbour who is in charge of the local hunting club, he smiled, understanding my concern, and to my surprise he admitted that it was actually him who had put them up!

It is an old method to protect the young vines from damage from the Roe deer (chevreuil).  I had not noticed that the vines were young.  The alternative would be to erect fences to keep the deer out which would be expensive and limit access.  It was indeed human hair that he collects from the hairdresser and stuffs into old tights.  The packages are then sprayed with cheap eau de cologne and this deters the red deer during the period when the shoots are growing rapidly.  The packages are sprayed periodically with more eau de cologne, but to be honest I never got that near to the tights to notice any perfume.  He assured me it was a very old method but not widely used these days.

I can sleep more comfortably in my bed now the affair of the human hair has been settled.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

6 thoughts on “Old tights, a dead tree and human hair.

  1. Sometimes the old traditions are the best, the age old methods that have been passed down through generations. I can see why you were a little freaked out with the human hair though!


  2. What a great post — my mother used to know old methods like that and I regret not having them all written down.


  3. I would never have guessed the reason. A fascinating tale.


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