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.
A mainly dry and warm February with just one fall of snow early on. Still some leeks left, though they need lifting now before they bolt. The kale is also still going strong and throwing out very tasty florets. The first act of the new gardening year has been to set the seed potatoes chitting. We are growing the same varieties as last year, “Belle de Fontenay” as an early, “Sarpo Mira” as a blight resistant main crop. These both did very well last year, which was very, very hot.
Some early appearances from the wild garlic and the rhubarb, and buds appearing on the blackcurrant bushes.
“…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.
This has been a strange warm and dry December in the Auvergne, with few frosts and many sunny days. However due to the sheltered nature of the garden in a forest clearing, it doesn’t get much sunlight this time of year, just 3 or 4 hours around midday. This has made acquiring photographs for this post a little challenging.
Most of the flowers are now over though we do have some winter pansies and heather still giving some colour. The roses though, have finally succumbed, but have given us a fantastic long season this year.
We have planted up 3 beds with field beans as a winter green manure, that we will dig in this spring. It’s the first time we have tried this so we will be interested to see how it turns out. They are all looking good and healthy at the moment but have only had to deal with light frosts down to -4 so far.
We still have leeks, kale and jerusalem artichokes which we are using throughout the winter. And I have discovered some new recipes using kale which are most welcome (thank you Jamie Oliver!)
nero di toscano
The hyssop has finally been cut down after getting wind damaged but it gave us a couple of lovely photos this month.
The garden became a bit of a slog this year, mainly due to the immense heatwave we suffered during July and August and I’m hoping this will get me inspired again! So farewell to 2015 and looking forward to a new growing season in 2016.
We have always tried to watch and support a local rugby team. In yorkshire it was Leeds (now Yorkshire) Carnegie. Here in France we tried our local team Brioude, but the stadium and team didn’t really click with us. So this season we have started visiting Issoire Rugby who play in the french regional Federal 2 division.
They are towards the bottom of the table at the moment, but won the match on Sunday, Issoire 30 – Malemort 23. Their discipline was terrible and they should have won by much more except for the stream of penalties against them. The bonus for this match was the availability of vin chaud at 1€ a glass.
The ground is in a lovely situation as the photo – taken at another match – shows.
As I have a new camera, which is much better for live action than my last camera, I took the opportunity to put the telephoto lens through its paces and was very pleased with the results.
Its been a month of contrasts with heavy snow at times interspersed with warm sunny days, though at the moment its overcast and drizzling.
The good news is that the seed potatoes are now bought and chitting. “Belle de Fontenay” earlies an old french variety, and “Sarpo Mira” main crop. The latter are a new variety of blight resistant potatoes from Hungary
The next job will be sowing our broad beans “The Sutton” into old toilet rolls as shown in the videos by the 10 Minute Gardener.
Our daffodils and crocus plants are beginning to show through as is the wild garlic. In the orchard area new buds are showing on all our fruit bushes leading to thoughts of crumble to come! The strawberry bed obviously is in need of a bit of attention in the coming weeks.