a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


20 Comments

Grey Skies

We have had our first frost of the year.

The frost is supposed to give flavour to the brussel sprouts.

However, the heavy rain has flattened them.

The leeks are starting to rot in the sodden ground.

The river Seudre at the back of the garden has filled up and only usually reaches this level in the springtime.

The plants themselves are confused after the hot dry summer.  The bottle brush has decided it might like to flower again.

My tall dark sage is still in bud and I do not think will flower this year.  The Charente Maritime area is one of the sunniest in France but this autumn it has been clouds and rain and I have missed the garden.

The Cerinthe major has found it perfect for self-seeding and I have been able to pot up plenty of little plants without the need for sowing any seeds.

The olive tree has been harvested.  It has given us less than last year but enough for our own needs.  Actually it only gives olives on the half of the tree that gets most of the sun, the other side does not get sufficient sun to produce the fruit.

Part of the front garden was covered with these “weeds” which I thought were allium bulbs last year.  I thought I must have forgotten planting them but they are not decorative alliums as they produced no flowers (that I saw).  They smell strongly of onions and are very invasive.  The roots seem to be able to elongate and produce new nodules vegetatively.  Does any one have an idea of what they might be?

The future looks wet.  I must learn to relax and accept the weather like our little tree frogs.


6 Comments

Sage

My sage is extremely popular with the bumble bees at the moment.  It is full of flowers and is another plant that gives rich rewards for very little attention.  It likes sunshine, a soil that does not stay damp (no problem with that in my sandy soil) and seemingly does not like limestone (I do not think it is that fussy as I am in a limestone area and it has not complained.)  It was unaffected by the two straight weeks of sub-zero temperatures we had last winter and will stand the full sunlight of the Charente-Maritime which is very strong.

The red tailed workers are the most common visitor to the sage flowers although they have other flowers to choose from.

As far as using it as a herb, it is a flavour I do not appreciate so for me it is purely decorative and a great filler of difficult places.  However, it has been valued in the past for its properties to encourage longevity.  Dutch merchants could trade three chests of Chinatea against one chest of sage leaves in the seventeenth century.  A sage sandwich is said to help digestion, although I cannot see myself tucking into a sage sandwich after a heavy meal.  Sage tea is supposed soothe coughs and colds, combat diarrhoea and be a nerve and blood tonic.

More recent claims report sage as a mood enhancer and memory improver (http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v31/n4/full/1300907a.html).  Maybe I should start eating the leaves.

Putting its herbal and culinary properties to one side, I think that sage is a very useful perennial for difficult dry spots in the garden that might defeat tender plants and it attracts and nourishes the bees as well.  I have my sage growing almost like a shrub on a sunny, dry spot on the outside fence of the garden where not much else could thrive.