Friday 26 May 2023

Good year for the roses - as Elvis sang (Costello)

It is in fact the most incredible year for roses as well as all other blossom - here certainly, and I hope where you are too.

The crumbling garage is blessed with a pale yellow tea rose which ambles slowly up its stonework, usually giving up with an almost audible sigh as May moves towards June. This year it is as showy as a Liberace rhinestone suit - blossom deeper in colour, almost golden with a faint scent of darjeeling. I've tried to capture its beauty on film but it's almost impossible - maybe just something to place in the memory drawer of the mind.

All flowers seem twice as big as usual. We must have had enough rain, no heavy frost and sufficient sunlight over the last couple of months. I'd love it to stay like this but glancing at the garden hoses while trying to locate a paintbrush this morning, I suspect we'll be in for another summer of heat and dryness.

Camper vans have started to emerge like angular, swaying white snails along the main route to Saumur, the Loire already at a late summer level. Business as usual while the climatologists rightly state for perhaps the 40th year or so that we are heading in a more than worrying direction.


Thursday 11 May 2023

Modern 'agriculture'

Our rampaging garden/land is situated between several large fields - some of which I think can no longer be termed 'fields' more stretches of ground utterly devoid of anything natural - including the soil. 

The ground to our left has been scraped away, levelled; rows of raised 'soil' created, sprayed, layers of sand and fertiliser added, industrial radishes grown and removed - incidentally, the abandoned plants, of which there are many - sometimes around a third of the plants - never get touched by the local rabbit and deer population - all of it ploughed up again, faffed with, more fertiliser added, plastic put on, thrown away, irrigated during hot, windy weather, and so on . . . and so on . . . the sheer amount of diesel used, roundup, and general wastage is astounding.

The 'fields to our right are mainly corn which are cattle fodder and require astronomical amounts of water as soon as summer gets going, but at least the 'farmer' who owns or rents that land is trying out a 'no dig' policy and so far no spraying has occurred. 

The fields to the back of us are thankfully mostly pastureland and are left to grow along with many wild species of flower/insects etc. Cattle grazing has its own problems but at least the land is mostly left alone, and trees/hedges left in tact. Between the pastures are other fields which I have been observing with growing incredulity since the winter months. Ok . . . so . . . the farmer has employed no-dig so that the maize roots have been left in the ground, so far, reasonable; then they sowed broad beans which I assumed were for cattle, sadly not for humans. The beans grew to late flower stage then the farmer sprayed the whole lot with round-up before planting a new maize crop between the dying bean plants. Uh? I assume he'd heard that no-dig was a new thing and employed it, and that beans add nitrogen to the ground, so had sowed them to improve the impoverished 'soil'. But to add weed killer on top and then sow corn . . . all destined for cattle which will then be slaughtered having dined on round-up . . .

                                                               round-up and new maize plants

Thank the Lord of green stuff that we have pockets of sanity in the form of excellent organic veg growers in the locality. And . . . when I get more time, we shall have a bit more than beans and lettuce in our own veg patch. 

our back garden/wildlife zone 

a few meters away next door - the next crop of radishes, plastic and non-soil

Sunday 7 May 2023

Work in progress, and the tenacity of nature

Finally, the main work has been done on our annex accommodation project - which has cropped up on this blog from time to time.

Now it's down to the outside details - ponds, courtyard, rampaging garden, etc. To remind me, wonderful family, and friends who have helped so much with this ongoing project, here are a couple of before-and-afters.

Below. Remainder of dilapidated bread oven with tree firmly rooted in it, to home-made, rustic and actually very functional BBQ area.

With regard to the tenacity of nature - this hazelnut tree was cut back drastically four times, then torn out by its roots (sob, but we had no other option) from the old bread oven, then to sit on the ground for about three months while we dealt with the rest of the building. 

A while back, our lovely workaway helper (Christopher) suggested re-planting it - just in case it would re-grow, despite having no real roots left. He went ahead and a couple of weeks later the second photo demonstrates how keen the tree was to continue its life!

BBQ area

Below, back courtyard with very damp and unpainted wall to nice sitting out place - still work to do but the main stuff has been dealt with