Slow painting

Sunday 22 August 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day August

My favourite blooms this summer are on the courgette plants that are mingling with the more standard-issue container plants in the front garden. The patio at the back of the house isn't sunny enough, and the back garden is home to huge snails - a special mutant Edinburgh variety. But at the front, 3 pots of 'Black Forest' courgette are just prolific enough for our needs.

Continuing the edible theme at the front of the house, alpine strawberries Baron Solemacher. Everything I read about these before buying them said that they put out very few runners. Really? It has been my summer occupation to remove the runners.

Bargain nicotiana - just the sort of plant a Scot likes. A host of seedlings popped up between the paving stones in May. I didn't know what they were, but pulled some up and put them in pots. Et voila - self-seeded nicotiana from last summer.

Yes another plant that I've bought and forgotten what it's called. I am amazed by bloggers with vast gardens who remember the name of every plant they've ever bought. I think it may be Barbara Jackman. Anyone who knows their clematis care to put me right?

Another bonus plant - sweet little violas at the base of the clematis.

So pleased with these fragrant petunias. They were part of a bumper 50 plants for £14.99 offer. The slight drawback for me of these offers is that the plants are usually tiny plugs, and with no greenhouse it can be a bit touch and go to bring them on if we're having a cold spring.

An indication of the cool summer we've had. Normally this crocosmia has finished flowering at the start of August.

My bee-magnet, hyssop Black Adder.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for August is at May Dreams Gardens.

Monday 16 August 2010

Vegetable tourism

A beautiful little potager, on a hillside near the village of Elizaberri, in the French Basque country. Apart from the profusion of outdoor tomatoes, what caught my eye were the upturned, bottomless mineral water bottles beside each plant, to ensure that the water goes directly to the plant's roots, and the companion planting of marigolds. We passed this plot several times, but didn't see anyone working there. If we had, I would have stopped for a gardening chat.

Below, the vegetable garden at a bed and breakfast we stayed in near the Basque village of Sare. I loved the little willow fencing dividing the different sections of the plot.

More enviable tomatoes:

Below, roses and peppers. The 'rose and vegetable/fruit' theme was a common one. In the photos of vineyards I didn't take you would have seen rose bushes at the end of the rows of vines.

It doesn't show up too clearly in this shot, but the ground surface of the whole plot was heavily mulched with grass clippings. Mulching to conserve moisture! Novel concept here this summer.

Apart from the vegetable plot, this B&B had a lovely garden. In the next two shots, the patio area where we had breakfast.

And to round off this bit of agri-tourism, a blurry shot of the traditional stone fencing in this area of France.

Sunday 15 August 2010


The best holiday souvenirs: packets of seeds. Yellow French beans, two types of lambs' lettuce, and a curly endive. The lambs' lettuce I'll sow now, but the rest will have to wait. There's not too much heat left in the Scottish summer, and the daylight hours are declining.

Also in the precious hoard brought back from France: a French gardening magazine, some linen tea towels, boxes of herb tea, and some garden-themed napkins. Unseen, two pots of my friend Christine's plum jam, made from the plums that rain down on the terrace around her beautiful home in the Basque countryside.

Sadly, only two bottles of wine from Chateau La Galiane, thanks to the weight restrictions on Ryanair. Next time, it has been decided, we'll travel by car. We want to return to the Bordeaux area, and to be surrounded by vineyards and unable to take advantage of them would be heartbreaking. Our precious bottles survived the flight and are now resting before being brought out on a special occasion.

I can't believe that we visited a vineyard and that I didn't take photos of the vines. We had a personal tour and wine tasting at a small family vineyard, arranged for us by our hosts at La Maison de Soussans. It was so interesting, and I was concentrating so much on the process that it didn't enter my head to break into the flow by taking my camera out. I only remembered right at the end of the visit, when I took these hasty shots. Not all chateaux are vast, turreted affairs. Chateau La Galiane was a lovely house, geraniums at every window, and its size in keeping with the acreage of vines. The chateau is named after an English general who commanded his troops in this area during the English occupation of Aquitaine in the 15th century.

Tomorrow, some photos of French vegetables! Then it's back to my own, which are struggling a bit in this damp, cool summer.