The garden is now being shut down for the winter, with only leeks and our tuscan kale left for picking. Last year the kale lasted us all through the winter into spring.
The blueberry bushes and our pear tree are putting on a fine display of autumn colours at the moment and in the flower garden we still have a few roses blooming and the cosmos never seems to give in, even after a couple of frosts.
It was a very dry September this year, with some record breaking temperatures. Combined with the dry summer it meant we had a very meagre potato crop this year. The earlies got blight and the main crop were very small. The courgettes and squash have been excellent again this month and we have apples on two of our trees.
The star flowers at the moment are the asters and the never ending morning glory.
“…begin with the near and familiar. It is in learning to love and cherish our own little tree, or field or brook that we become fitted for wider and deeper affections”
R. S. Thomas preface to The Batsford Book of Country Verse.
We live on a tiny road, that winds up through the forest from the village below to our hamlet and then on to the next village about 5k up the road. Between our house and the next village the forest varies between conifers, firs and deciduous mixed woodland, mainly beech, oak and ash. We have walked this route for over five years now, in all weathers and all seasons, building up a large library of photographs. During our walks we have seen wild boar, foxes, pine martens, stoats, feral cats, ravens and numerous buzzards and failed to photograph any of them! It’s an ever changing scene through the seasons, with autumn possibly the star as the forest really glows at that time of year.
As the picture shows the squash have been picked and are awaiting many risottos, stews and curries.
The garden is slowing down now with some beds already empty with all the squash, courgettes and potatoes picked and stored. Still available are leeks, kale and borlotti beans, with fennel and cauliflowers available next month. Not sure if the fennel are frost hardy, so I may lose those if we get an early frost.
leeks and kale
hyssop, dill and fennel
We also have a last flush of flowers with the asters being particularly good this year after we divided them from just two plants last year.
wild flower bed
The garden is also full of dodgy looking mushrooms. I’m clueless on fungi identification so unless a local expert tells me they are edible, they are staying put!
It’s been a mild and dry November so far with only a couple of frosts overnight and the last few days sunny and peaking at 18c – 20c.
We have cleared and covered up some beds for winter but others are still productive. So we are still picking beetroot, swede, leeks, fennel, chard, kale and cauliflower, and aside from carrots we haven’t had to buy any veg for weeks.
In the flower garden we have one lonesome rose, borage and the indestructible self seeded calendula still flowering. The hyssop is now gone over but the dead flower heads still have a fantastic structure especially when backlit by the morning sun. The beech hedging is turning a burnished bronze and has grown well this year, as has the mixed berry hedge at the end of the orchard.
Sometimes the best walks are the unexpected ones. We had set out to do a favourite walk from Domeyrat village along the railway line and back through the woods along the river. However the local chasse (hunt) were spread along our proposed route and we never feel particularly safe if walking paths in the middle of the chasse.
So we decided on combining a couple of routes we had covered on other longer walks to make a shorter circular route past and around the castle. It was a beautiful afternoon with the trees looking particularly fine in the late afternoon light.
Making the most of the continuing warm sunny weather, we headed out to the village of Cerzat yesterday, for a walk which promised a volcanic crater, basalt cliffs and spectacular views over the Allier valley.
It all started well. We found our way out of the village, and across open farmland to the Pié du Roi, which is the crater of a long extinct volcano. It was a glorious day, with mellow autumn light and long shadows.
It was soon after this that we started to have “challenges” with our route finding.
Walking in France on official routes is usually pretty easy. They tend to follow clearly defined paths and tracks, rather than cutting across open ground as they often do in the UK. In addition, there is a clear system of way marks, and wherever there is a choice of paths, the correct one will be marked with a dash, and…