Well even after a week of lockdown here I still didn’t manage to get my six done before the end of Saturday! A week of not tending the work gardens is making me anxious, things are growing so quickly at the moment, weeds included, and we did lots of extra hours early in the month to get in front of things, now all that extra work will be wasted. Fingers crossed the lockdown doesn’t get extended past the two week period - but I think it’s a given that it will.
As usual, if you want to get involved with SoS, or just want a nosy at what others are up to in their gardens then visit the host at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/ or join in on twitter with #SixOnSaturday
Here’s my Six for this week.
1) Self seeding Sweet Peas!! I haven’t planted any sweet peas out yet this year but I have some in the garden and in the buckets on the terrace, they’ve sprung up where I planted them last year in the garden and also in the buckets that were next to them on the terrace, a y our winter has been. Has anyone else ever had sweet peas self seed? My Gladiolus are also romping way ahead of themselves, these ones aren’t as big as the ones closer to the house but still pretty advanced for March.
2) Plastic plant pot anyone? I never throw away a plastic pot either at home or at work, so I end up bringing home lots from work but I also hate seeing them sitting by the bins so when we go to take our rubbish and recycling to the bins I retrieve any that are there. Needless to say I have enough pots to supply a small nursery. The large ones are great though as they’re the ones trees are supplied in and great for jazzing up with cement and fabric strips to make unique planters for my citrus - that’s another post!
3) My Rogue Raspberry, this Raspberry has stubbornly refused to grow where I planted it in a thin bed next to the terrace fence and has instead decided to run along the ground under the terrace and up between the boards. I’ve decided to let it be and see if it produces in this position.
4) Dianthus Barbatus, or Sweet William, this has continued to grow in a tiny pot all winter as I just didn’t get round to planting it out, it has not only survived all winter with maybe just a couple of waterings from sidewards rain but it has flowered, albeit a rather spindly and lonesome flower. I now feel duty bound to plant it out and give it some much needed care. Apologies for the dodgy picture quality, it was more than a tad windy.
5) Petunias, these are the leftovers in my daughter’s pot that I included a couple of weeks ago, they’re going from strength to strength. I love getting two years out of one plant that’s supposedly an annual- I have some in my gate pot that have also come back from last year but they aren’t at flowering stage yet.
6) Strawberries, this is early even for here, these were mid summer producers last year but lots are in flower and I noticed on my way in from the garden this evening that one has a solitary strawberry just waiting to be ripened by the sun.
Well that’s my Six on Saturday for this week but as we’re still ploughing our way through the lemons from our tree I’ll share where most them are going, ginger and lemon cordial, fiery and refreshing.
Stay safe and Well during this crazy time of illness. X
Well here we are, another week and the numbers are definitely on the up here, and not just Covid-19 cases, it’s been around 20°c most of the week but to be honest we could do with some decent rain before everything is in flower. The type of rain we get here obliterates flowers if they’re open.
As always, if you’d like to join in with SoS then head over to https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/ and join the party.
Here’s my six for this week-
1) As I said, it’s starting to heat up here, 22°C out and about the other day equates to a whopping 34°C in our garden and on our terrace, which is why in the middle of summer when it’s hitting the mid to high 30s°C out and about the thermometer on the terrace explodes and plants die - once temps, go over about 54°C the thermometer can’t take it any more!
2) This is the mulberry tree that sits just outside our garden, it’s a little garden all by itself and produces the most amazing berries!
3) This Pierre de Ronsard rose is one of dozens in our daily work garden, they produce beautiful flowers for most of the year, sadly this beauty was decimated by the obnoxious white spotted rose beetles (Oxythyrea funesta), the fact that I can’t find anything that stops them is more than frustrating, and non of the flowers in the garden are safe from these monsters.
4) This extremely furry little guy marched right across the terrace at one of our work gardens this week, I have no idea what type of caterpillar he is but he was bold as brass and deserved a mention.
5) The colour of this succulent (Echeveria Pulvinata) is truly stunning, it’s only small but it’s almost screaming to be looked at.
6) Last but not least my peach tree, Prunus Persica, I love this when it’s in bloom and hopefully my precautionary measures to prevent fungus will stop the peach leaf curl affecting it, I managed to prevent it last year and the fruit were beautiful.
Well that’s my Six on Saturday for this week, stay safe and if you have to self isolate then enjoy your garden.
I’m a day late for SoS this week, struggling to find any energy this weekend, but I’ve finally managed to get it done. As always, if you want to join in head over to the master of ceremonies at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/ see where it all started and what it’s all about. Hope you enjoy my Six on Saturday.
1) This was more than a shock when I saw it yesterday, over the last few weeks I’ve had several plants in the work gardens and at home that have been months in front of themselves, but non more so than this petunia flowering for all to see! This is a pot that my daughter left here last summer when they moved back to the U.K. they just didn’t have space for plants so all her outside pots and house plants are holidaying with me until we can find the time to get them to her. Being a summer bedding this was stuck in a corner and forgotten.I planned to empty the pot and clean it ready to be sent to her but clearly this feisty little petunia had other plans, and who am I to argue if it wants to flower in early spring!
2) The roses I pruned over the last month are clearly keen to get back into flower, all are piling on the foliage and some are already starting to flower.
3) I love it when plants that have been completely dormant or just slower growing over the winter months suddenly wake up and realise it’s spring. This week the Hydrangea Macrophylla have gone into overdrive and are looking great, ditto the Origanum and Salvia Officinalis with lots of lovely lush growth. The Punica Granatum (pomegranate trees) are slowly filling in their branches too, and the one we moved at the start of last spring is romping away ahead of the others which is great (always a relief when you move something so big and it survives the trauma). Tagging along at the rear are the teeny, tiny Symphytum Officinale and Symphytum Asperum (comfrey) shoots which are just breaking the soil surface, no doubt these will soon be producing masses of leaves for use in the gardens and in my soaps, toiletries etc.
4) Aeonium, Aeonium, oh my do I adore these plants! I love everything about them, and that deep aubergine colour is stunning, as are the tiny details like the serrated leaf edging that you only see when you look up close. This beauty was a cutting I took last summer, it’s been out on my terrace with nothing other than a daily water whilst it was hot after I took it from the parent plant, it’s been ignored all winter. It’s now enormous and clearly happy where it is as it’s more than twice the size of the parent plant already! As you can see from the measurements on the photo, it’s turned into a whopper 😍
5) Teucrium Fruticans, the daily work garden has lots of these little gems dotted around and the bees just love them, they look so pretty at this time of year but this will be their last week of free growth as they’ll all be tamed into neat balls next week before they start to get woody and out of control. They’re one of the sources of early food for the bees but there’s lots more for them to enjoy now so these guys are getting a much needed haircut.
6) Polygala Myrtifolia - I cannot express how happy I am that we have this (and another one) in flower in the daily work garden. Just over a year ago we had a couple of dozen of these and they were absolutely stunning when in flower, then we got dreaded Xylella Fastidiosa and over the course of two months we lost all but these two, they quite literally died before our eyes leaving huge patches of dead wood and piles of dried, dead leaves. We thought these two were also affected but they seem to have been abandoned by the bugs before any real damage was done (not that we were able to see the bugs). Hopefully they won’t return and these two will remain, time will tell and I’m keeping everything crossed as I love these purple flowering beauties that otherwise grow well without pests or problems. A couple of other shrubs were affected in the garden but thankfully the strain of Xylella we had did not affect our Olive trees or other fruiting trees.
That’s my Six on Saturday for this week, but I had to share this little lady who decided to hitch a ride on my sunglasses and almost came for a ride home with us. I left her looking for a meal on a rose that climbs through an Olive tree, hopefully she found something. The pictures are more than a tad blurry, trying to take photos with a damaged lense on my phone isn’t ideal, especially when it’s starting to get dark.
Leap day! I love leap day, there’s something magical about a day that only comes around once every four years.
My six this week comes from a very windy South of France, lots of sun, and a few clouds.
As always, if you want to join in head over to https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/
1) Perovskia - Having pruned and manured all the rose beds my attention is turned to the other beds, this week was the turn of the Perovskia (Russian Sage), it looks lovely in the summer when it flowers but for the majority of the year it looks pretty messy, and at this time of year when the oxalis, creeping buttercups and various invasive grasses have moved in, it’s positively horrible. The weeds seem to have a knack of getting right in amongst the roots thereby making their removal a nightmare job.
2) Zantedeschia aethiopica - I love these, and they grow everywhere down here which is a bonus. There are pots of them in the daily work garden as well as some in a bed, I have them in a box and in the ground in my own garden and they’re dotted around in the field outside our house. They pretty much do their own thing and tolerate anything the weather seems to throw at them.
3) Agave Parrasana - These are quite simply stunning, but the thorns are seriously nasty. The markings on the leaves are beautiful and look even more so with water droplets in them. We have two in the daily work garden in large pots, I call them the spikey cabbages, they were a mission to plant but once in they’re easy to care for.
4) Hellebores - we have different coloured hellebores all around the daily work garden, they flower for such a long time and make a statement in the beds that don’t have spring flowering shrubs.
5) Coronilla Coronata - or at least I think it is! This grows like a weed here and at this time of year along with the Mimosas it looks absolutely stunning. These pictures were from the field and the lane outside our house, and next to where we park. I’d love this in the garden but seeing how much it spreads it probably wouldn’t be wise.
6) Retama Monosperma - What an amazing display! I adore this frothy, flamboyant mass at this time
of year, so do the bees. We have two of these in the daily work garden, this one was extremely overgrown so last year after it flowered I pruned it heavily, I was worried it might not do so well this year but I needn’t have, it looks stunning, as usual. Soon the peach in front of it will flower and the bees will be in seventh heaven 😊
Well that’s my seven for this week but I had to add the Erigeron again, I mentioned it briefly last week as some was flowering, this week it’s flowering all around the garden, albeit not as profusely as it does in summer but non the less, abundantly for February!
Have a great week ahead 😊
I feel like I should be on the naughty step as this is my first Six on Saturday of this year! I do have a couple of bona fide excuses/reasons for not posting though, we spent time visiting my daughter and her OH in England during December and early January for the birth of our first grandchild, a beautiful little girl who they named Ella Rose. When we came home we had lots of time to catch up on in the work gardens as everything was/is on full speed ahead mode for spring. Anyway, enough of the waffling, here are my six for this week, and as always, if you want to see more or join in then pop over to https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/ where it all began, and the head honcho of Six on Saturday reigns.
1. The cactus bed in the daily work garden - This has been a year in the making but is finally finished, it’s gone from being a messy, hard to reach, water guzzling, English style bed into a neat bed that requires no arrosage (watering system) and very little maintenance. We finally laid the stones at the start of the month, all 5.5 tonnes of them, and although they look quite stark in the photos, they look great in real life and will soon have masses of succulents creeping across them. It was definitely worth the effort of removing and rehoming all the plants. I absolutely love this area of the garden now!
2. Lemons! - Last year was all about oranges, it was an amazing year for them. This year that award goes to lemons, we are inundated with lemons, these are just some of the lemons from the daily work garden, another work garden and our garden have heavily laden trees too. How many things can I do with lemons? So far, lemon meringue pies, lemon cheesecakes, lemon cordial, lemon and ginger cordial, frozen sliced lemons, lemon curd and frozen lemon juice, still to come are lemons in syrup and lemons in alcohol, along with any other suggestions I’m given!
3. Constantly clogged fountains to “eco” ponds - These fountains in the daily work garden were constantly getting clogged up and when the water ceased to flow the mosquitoes treated them like a spa resort. This year will be different, The “eco” ponds are on their way to being a mosquito buffet! Lots of oxygenating plants to keep the fish happy, we’ll soon have pond snails to help the bottom feeding fish keep the ponds clean, and lilies in there too to keep the balance right. The fish will eat the small mozzies and the larvae and when its s all settled it’ll be easier to maintain than the fountains. I’ve also added java moss to hopefully cover the concrete, the java moss should happily survive the winter here as the fountains are in sheltered spots.
4. Terrace pots - I have a love/hate relationship with these pots on the terrace of the daily work garden, the succulents are fantastic and flowering like crazy at the moment, the cactus, mainly opuntia microdasys look beautiful but are on a mission to get me every time I go within a foot of the pots. The tiny glochidia not only release on contact but also in the wind (which we get a lot of), antihistamines and hair removal wax strips are now a constant in the car.
5. Crazy flowering pelargoniums, in FEBRUARY - along with other things in our garden that really should still be asleep at this time of year, like Dahlias, and the glads that I toyed with ditching after they had severe rust and red spider mite last year.
6. Other things in bloom around the daily work garden - I’ve been working like crazy for the last couple of weeks to get the roses pruned, they happily flower all year here but do better if I prune them in spring and make them behave as if they’d slept for the winter, all done and manured so they can burst into life again. The rest of the garden has meanwhile been waking up and enjoying the sunshine, I love working to the constant buzz of bees going about their business, here’s some snapshots of things in bloom at the moment around the garden, and where the Erigeron, like my pelargoniums has got the date muddled up.
That’s it for my Six on Saturday, hope it’s a good week for everyone 😊
Here we are hurtling through February and it still feels like the new year! So much has happened since my last post, the most exciting being that we have become grandparents‼️ We visited the U.K. in December and stayed with my daughter and her other half, we arrived the day before her planned induction (which went pear shaped, but that’s another post) and came back after the new year. All I can say is thank goodness for tech. and video calling! It’s not the same as cuddles but we at least get to see and talk to our beautiful granddaughter several times a day.
More on being a crazy in love grandma soon, today I want to post a piece written by Ruby Tandoh about an amazing man who touched so many people worldwide and was taken far too soon, long before he’d achieved all his goals. Please share, and if you can afford to donate a little please do, thanks.
Click the picture or any of the text below to read the full piece.
Empire of Seeds
The Life and Dreams of Esiah Levy
Feb 19 · 31 min read
Illustration: Sinae Park
If you enjoy reading about Esiah’s remarkable work, please consider donating here to help cover the costs of having this essay printed into booklets for Esiah’s friends and family. Money raised will cover the costs of the illustrator and the printing and postage of the booklets. Any extra money will be donated to Squash Liverpool — a community food enterprise in Liverpool — a cause chosen by Esiah’s wife Kealy.
Illustration: Sinae ParkPhotos: Maria BellWords: Ruby Tandoh
The seeds would arrive in envelopes, their names scrawled in ballpoint pen across the back. ‘Giant Hubbard,’ read one packet, the seeds for the heavy, dense-fleshed squash landing in Wiltshire in England’s rural south-west. A package of squash and corn seeds found its way to a village perched on Senegal’s coast, just south of the nation’s capital, Dakar. In Cypress, southern California, a similar parcel arrived. Inside the crumpled paper was a jumble of seeds for rhubarb and beautiful, mosaic-like glass gem corn, each kernel shimmering a different colour.
It was an operation as vast as it was ramshackle. . .
Another miserably wet day on the Côte d’Azur, flooding and news of several deaths due to the horrendous weather makes me want to stay home and not venture out until the sun returns, not an option as we’re working tomorrow, but for today I’ve stayed put and baked cakes.
Baking isn’t just a case of a simple recipe from a book in our house, decided I wanted spiced apple cake, it’s one of my all time favourite cakes and so comforting when the weather is horrible, my old recipe has to be modified so it can be eaten by everyone else in the house and as the boys are gluten, dairy and sugar free I make one cake for them and one for us, ours also has to be modified as the OH has to have extremely reduced sugar!
So many modifications, but worth the time spent when the OH came into the kitchen to make coffee and pronounced “it smells like Christmas in here already”, followed once the cakes were baking by “it smells gorgeous in here” and after they’d wolfed down gargantuan pieces they all exclaimed “that was deeeeeelicious!” Definitely worth the effort of baking them.
When I have time I’ll post the full recipes, but for now here’s the finished cakes.
It’s that time of the week again!
Welcome to my Six on Saturday post, I’m extremely wet and soggy thanks to non stop rain, the flooding season has arrived with a vengeance. No surprise it’s raining this weekend as it always seems to rain on the weekend of the ‘Rally du Var’, but it’s serious enough to have stopped play this year. The last week has been one big storm warning on my weather apps, we’ve changed clothes so may times I’ve lost count and the lane has been filled and washed away several times. Despite the weather I still have a six to post, not surprisingly they’re mostly weather related.
Hope you enjoy, and if you want to join in head over to the host with the most at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/23/six-on-saturday-23-11-2019/ and join the fun.
1) There’s still plenty of colour in the work gardens, as well as the plants in the photo there are lots of roses still flowering profusely, many shrubs are flowering too but as they’re kept clipped to shape there aren’t that many flowers on them - still enough for the bees that are buzzing around despite the crazy storms. The red of these hydrangea leaves is quite literally breathtaking.
2) RAIN! The wooded area in the daily work garden has a concrete pipe at the top adjoining one neighbour’s land to allow storm water to run unhindered, it runs down the slope of the woods and exits via several pipes into the land of the other neighbour. Last year the bottom concrete wall and pipes were washed away with the force of the water and debris, it was rebuilt but whilst the weather is like this it’s an almost daily chore removing the debris that collects. Another tree in the woods
has come down (well half of it), and once again the lane to our house is undriveable, it was filled in a few times this week but the guys with their lorry loads of stones are fighting a losing battle. This picture was three days ago and we’ve had torrential rain constantly since then, with maybe a 3 or 4 hour reprieve, so the gullies are now about 14 -16” deep! The cascading waterfall is actually rain water running from the land above the local cinema down into the car park, a crazy amount of water!
3) On the brighter side, the Erigeron in the daily work garden is still flowering, it looks vibrant and healthy, not quite the full on flower show we had earlier in the year but still looking good. I’m amazed it hasn’t turned to a soggy mess.
4) With all the rain comes the perfect conditions for the fungal beauties, I have absolutely no idea what any of these are (if anyone does then please enlighten me) but they’re all beautiful. The ones grouped together were in the woods, the others were on the lawn - I use that word in the loosest possible way, it’s more a muddy paddling area.
5) More rain! This was what it was like when we were getting ready to go to work (yes, gardening) the other day - thank goodness for waterproofs!
6) With all this rain it was time for the return of hot coffee, during the summer we drink iced coffee exclusively but it’s definitely not iced coffee weather any more so new coffee mugs were in order - just to add to the dozens we already have!
Not part of my six but had to share the daftness that is our bundle of fluff, Tylor, we were busy shoveling leaves and debris from around the water pipes pictured above but that was too scary for Tylor so he ran and hid behind what he clearly thought was a tree that would save him from the scary flying leaves! He stayed there until we’d finished and emerged from the ditch.
Well that’s it from me for this week’s Six on Saturday, hope you have a good week wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
The weekend is here again! The weeks seem to be passing by so fast at the moment, probably because there’s a lot to do in the gardens, this week has been a mixed bag weather-wise with equal measures of rain, sun and wind, temperatures have definitely turned autumnal too as it’s been down to 15°c mid afternoon during the week, and it was a decidedly chilly 9°c when we got home last night - brrrrrrr! I’ve been busy moving plants this week as we’re turning the fact that the nasty xylella killed off our Polygala Myrtifolia into an opportunity to create a new mood by prepping for some tropical style plants - still absolutely gutted that they were killed off though as they were some of the most prolific flowering shrubs we had. Elsewhere in the gardens there are still lots of flowers, the roses in particular are taking advantage of the fact that the sun isn’t trying to cook them.
So here’s my six for this week, as always, if you want to join in pop over to the host of Six on Saturday and add your own and feel free to leave a comment on my contribution. https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/09/six-on-saturday-09-11-2019/
1) Still in bloom and looking great in November, there are bucket loads of white roses in flower but I didn’t get a chance to take photos of them all.
2) Cactus and succulents are still happy despite rather a lot of rain, this Opuntia microdasys is growing really well, although it might have to be moved as the nasty glochids come away so easily and just walking too close to the pot means a risk of getting them in you or your clothing, obviously the fact that it’s getting bigger increases the risk so this and the matching one in another pot might have to move home to the cactus bed where they can grow undisturbed.
3) More succulents, these Aeonium are one of my favourite plants, I adore the huge rosettes, the fine toothed edging and the way they change colour from one season to the next. This picture shows the same plant in May and again in October, it looks like a different plant. It’ll stay green over the winter as it’s getting low levels of sun and more rain (this garden is at quite a high elevation and gets frosts over the winter so I cover this and the others in the garden with a layer of fleece to protect them), but come spring when the sun starts to get higher and hotter again it’ll return to the beautiful colours in the top picture.
4) Beautiful Bougainvillea, I love this but my OH hates it because of the spikes, he climbs the ladder to cut it back several times a year and curses like mad when they get at him through all the gear he wears to protect himself from them. I just see stunning colour in mid November, in fact this flowers for around 7 or 8 months of the year on our south facing wall!
6) Limes, this tiny lime tree has 20 limes on it and is about to blossom again! It stands at the grand height of approximately 30 inches tall. That’s one of the things I love about citrus, they’re prolific fruiters and sometimes you wonder how they take the weight of the fruit on them. This one needs to be put into a larger pot in the spring so it can spread it’s roots a little. It’s in the tiny little black pot, the blue pot has a rosemary and a pelargonium in it and is about the size of pot I’ll move the lime in to.
This post came about when a fellow grower on Twitter asked if anyone had any suggestions for edible flowers for her plot, to add to those she was already growing. I said I’d send her some suggestions, and after gathering together many bits of paper with scribbled lists that have been stuck in books for years and going through all my files (physical and on line) I came up with a list of edible flowers... rather a long one!
Using flowers as food is great, it adds flavour, texture and colour to meals as well as a visual ‘WOW’ factor. Obviously the same rules apply to flowers for food as does to salad and veg. crops, they need to be free from pesticides and animal poop/pee - nobody wants to eat a flower that Pedro the poodle has peed on!
You can buy edible flowers in supermarkets these days, they’re extremely popular here in France, but if you buy them to eat you need to check they’re for culinary use and not just a bunch aimed for sticking in a vase, those grown for the vase will have been heavily treated with pesticides and herbicides, definitely not what you want to be adding to your meals! That’s not to say those in the salad section won’t have been treated, they’ll just have what the food agencies deem to be an “acceptable” level of the chemicals on them. We prefer to avoid anything that’s been treated this way so either buy organic or grow our own.
It’s the same if you buy plants to grow on for edible purposes, those in supermarkets and garden centres will have been heavily treated (unless labeled to the contrary) so will need around 12 weeks of chemical free growth to be safe - do NOT eat any flowers already on bought plants.
Anyway, to the list of edibles which is compiled from 30+ years of flower eating as well as from books, magazines and websites, some I eat lots of, some, like chrysanthemums I’ve never tried, simply because I have an extreme allergy to them.
Check that all flowers/buds are free from pests and disease, and rinse thoroughly before use. It’s also a good idea to check that they’re safe for those who are pregnant, ill or very young/old just in case they’re contraindicated in those groups. Unless otherwise stated remove pistils and stamens and just use the petals of flowers.
Remember, if in doubt, leave it out! Better to be safe and not eat it if you can’t identify it properly
To see the list of edible flowers click here
Yucca - one of the many flowers on the edibles list.