Thursday, May 7, 2009
'What grows in the garden so lovely and rare...'
The Mayday bank holiday weekend is one of my favourites in France. Not because I want to celebrate the workers or their rights but because it's the Foire des Fleurs at Tournon d'agenais, followed two days later by a similar but smaller one in our own village.
We were very lucky to inherit a very mature and thoughtfully planted garden and throughout the seasons we have the good fortune to watch it unfold in all its colours and textures. The garden was less lucky to inherit us for I am to gardening what Einstein was to origami. In other words, no bloody use at all. Each year, I convince myself that I'll be different. I pour over my multitudes of gardening books and 'place that plant' ad nauseum. Each year, I shell out a not insignificant sum of money on flowers and plants which I often kill well before I've even planted them.
My piece de résistance was, without a doubt, the very rare Chinese tree we bought at the Tournon show a few years ago. It was thought to be extinct until 1948 when some seeds were found in some godforsaken part of China unseen by the 'long noses' for centuries..... and with my help it will probably be extinct again in the near future.
It was duly planted, taking care that the roots were well watered and that it wasn't positioned under any overhead cables. No worry about watering it as the irrigation system in the garden could take care of that. Within two weeks it was yellow. 'Just the changing seasons', I gaily informed the CH. He expressed doubt. 'It's dead'. But how could that be? 'Well in that case it must be faulty. The irrigation system has kept it watered so why would it die?' 'Did you move the pipes so it was actually getting any water?' he asked. Ah.
Last year I thought that we'd try our hand at a bit of self-sufficiency. I planted 10 tomato plants, some aubergines, some courgettes and some chilis. (OK, OK, I know you can't really make much with that little combination). End result, 2 aubergines, 1 chili and no tomatoes. They all got blossom end rot. Can that be passed on to humans I wonder?
I went to the market to see if I could get any more tomato plants and found that our lovely old farmer, from whom we buy the best onions and garlic on the planet, still had some.
I bought one.
'Just one, Madame?' he enquired curiously.
Ooooh yes, you have no idea of my history with tomato plants. Better that I leave the rest for someone who has more than a passing chance of growing anything on them.
This year, I've planted tomatoes, courgettes de Nice (lovely round ones), strawberries, melons and peppers. They've been in the ground for over a week now and they are still alive.
The Foire des Fleurs was glorious, even the sun made a rare appearance. I wandered around marvelling at all the different plants - bougainvillea - killed three of those, trumpet vine - killed two of those, vast swathes of surfinia - I've killed vast swathes of those, olive trees - yep, got a dead one outside my front door.
Even more exciting were all the flowers that I've not yet had the chance to kill. I reached for my purse. No, not this year. I'll give the veggies another go but there will be no more summer displays of dead hanging baskets chez moi!