Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Random roses

On the rose pergola, there's a lot of intermingling between adjacent varieties. Here's a view from the south of the left-hand side of the pergola:

The small bright red roses are Chevy Chase. The bushes growing on the left are Madame Alfred Carrière, and you see a few specimens of these white roses at the top of the photo. But the pink roses on the left belong to Albertine stalks that have burrowed through from the opposite side of the pergola. On the other side of the red Chevy Chase, the small pale pink Paul Transon blossoms are in their right place.

In one of the plots, close to the earth, there's an elegant specimen of Paul Bocuse, all on its own.

Alongside, but high in the air, there are several Queen Elizabeth specimens:

Here's a superb solitary Limoux, with a few Manou Meilland in the background:

I've forgotten the identity of the following vigorous bush of clumps of white roses, which used to grow on an embankment behind the house:

The following, too, is an unidentified bush that I transplanted from behind the house:

As I've often said, one thing is certain: Gamone is an ideal territory for roses.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Green lizards in my garden

Twenty minutes ago, I noticed a couple of superb green lizards approaching one of my garden plots.

[Click to enlarge]

Maybe they're surprised to discover that familiar weeds have disappeared. When they scrambled into the vegetation in this garden plot at the foot of the stairs, I went down cautiously to see if I could get a closer look at them. No problem. They didn't appear to be particularly upset by my presence with a camera, just a couple of meters in front of them.

They're beautiful creatures, known as western green lizards [Lacerta bilineata]. The bigger of the two specimens in my garden, with a blue throat, is a male. The female is much smaller and more slender. They eat insects, and live for some 15 years. Now that I know they're inhabiting my garden, I'll make sure they're not hanging around in a plot where I'm working. They're not venomous, but will apparently try to inflict a bite upon a foe, and it's said that such a bite is quite painful. Above all, I must make a point of keeping Fitzroy out of the garden, because he would instantly declare war on these attractive reptiles.

NOTE: Australian readers of my blog might look upon these creatures as small goannas. Needless to say, I'm incapable of examining their respective genealogies, but I would imagine that the two families differ most considerably in their eating habits. Even a small goanna (some are no bigger than my green lizards) is prepared to consume birds' eggs, frogs, smaller snakes and lizards, small rodents, etc, whereas the green lizards of Western Europe would find it unthinkable to eat such stuff.

Gamone garden

After many hours of manual labor down on my hands and knees, I've finally removed most of the weeds from the garden at Gamone. Here's a global view from the southern end:

[Click to enlarge]

In the lower left-hand corner, you can see a piece of the geotextile product that I intend to lay down in all the alleys between the elements of the garden: its 8 square plots and the rose pergola. Once this geotextile covering is in place, held down by metallic staples, I plan to cover it with a thick layer of beige limestone gravel. That's the only feasible solution to prevent the annual growth of weeds. Funnily enough, the weeds that reappear abundantly in the hard earth of the alleys are more obnoxious (hard to remove) than the relatively few specimens that dare to sprout in the soft soil of the plots. Here's a view of the area in front of the house as seen by somebody coming in off the road:

As you can see, the actual garden lies a couple of meters lower than the level of the house and front "lawn". Here's a view of the pergola as you approach it from the northern end:

In the upper right-hand corner of that photo, you have a glimpse of the stairs that I built a few years ago, and the above-mentioned piece of geotextile. The following photo provides a view of the four northern plots, dominated for the moment by the luxurious Don Quichotte blossoms:

And the following photo provides a symmetrical view of the four southern plots:

As you can see, the Princess Margaret peonies are in danger of collapsing under their own weight, and I've attached them by a string to a wooden pole. I don't know how serious peony growers handle this kind of problem...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Peony time at Gamone

All four peonies of the shrub type are in flower, whereas my five herbaceous specimens are waiting for some prolonged sunshine.

Pink Adzuma Nishiki and white Godaishu.

Red Higurashi.

Crimson Hana Daijin.

They appear to coexist well with the surrounding plants and a few weeds.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Garden flowers are back

I'm pleased to discover that I haven't lost a single rose or peony plant since I planted them in 2009. This year, the Gay Paree is splendid, and doesn't appear to be bothered by its position alongside a giant rose bush and a clump of lavender (neither of which are flowering yet).

The Princess Margaret is thriving, but its huge flowers are weighted down by all the recent wetness. (Please disregard all the vegetation in the aisles between the plots, which I haven't had an opportunity of removing.)

On the opposite side of my garden, the Manou Meilland is a rose reflection of the peonies.

But the most glorious flower of all, at this time of the season, is the Don Quichotte, whose aroma is intense.

A month or so ago, in a quite heavy-handed manner, I cut away all the climbing rose branches protruding from the top of the pergola. Today, they've all sprouted even more abundantly.

It's a bit like a scruffy-haired boy whose mother needs to send him to the barber. Notice, on the left, the first small red blossoms of Albertine, whose stalks are also reddish.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First peonies of 2012

I'm thrilled to discover that all the 22 rose bushes and the 9 peonies that I planted back in 2009 have survived the harsh winter. There are no rose blossoms yet, of course. But yesterday, I was greeted by the first peonies of 2012 at Gamone.

My Adzuma Nishiki surely needs a lot more sunshine, and less rain and wind, to acquire a more rosy robust complexion.

24 HOURS LATER: Look at the difference, this morning, brought about by just a few hours of sunshine:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

State of Gamone garden

Don't imagine for a moment that the present state of my rose pergola and garden at Gamone might be the outcome of my horticultural skills. The causes lie closer to sheer chance than to what I had vaguely in mind when I selected and planted my first rose bushes in the second half of 2009. In any case, the final result, as seen today, pleases me greatly. Here's a view of the pergola from down in the garden:

Here's a top view of the pergola from in front of the house:

It's a subdued and subtle vision of roses. Low-key, you might say, quite the opposite of flashy. The dominant hue is pink, with a touch of bright red.

Elsewhere in the garden, there are several white roses.

The Manou Meilland is one of the more conspicuous roses.

In a far corner, the New Year provides a mixture of several bright hues.

And Paul Bocuse has just appeared timidly on the scene.

From a color viewpoint, peonies steal the show, but they bloom separately, at different times. Let's not blame this spectacular specimen for having a silly name:

I took most of these photos yesterday. Then a violent storm hit Gamone, dropping a huge quantity of much-appreciated water on the slopes. Inevitably, some of the blossoms you see here got damaged by the storm, particularly the peonies. But, as a whole, the garden survived quite well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gamone garden, a year later

This photo was taken a year ago, on 23 April 2010:

And here's a photo taken this morning, on 20 April 2011:

There's not much color yet, since it's too early for the roses. As you can see, I finally decided not to prune the thick upper rose foliage on the pergola… to see what happens.

I'm happy to discover that all my nine peony plants appear to be thriving. My doctor, who's reputed to be an expert gardener, had worried me when he told me he'd never succeeded in growing peonies at Pont-en-Royans. As at the same time last year, the earliest peonies to bloom are two splendid Japanese Suffruticosa specimens.

An interesting operation, this year, consists of judging the various perennials that I planted last year, often without knowing how they might react here at Gamone. I've discovered that two delightful little perennials are the simple ivory and shiny green Iberis and several colorful varieties of Phlox.

On the other hand, I realize that I planted certain perennials, such as Arabis [in French: Arabette], that are not particularly esthetic.

Some of my Arabis plants appear to be flattened out, and look like big bird nests. I suspect that Fitzroy could well have discovered that a soft sweet-smelling perennial is a fine place for an afternoon snooze.

I hasten to point out that I do not consider myself to be a genuine serious gardener, since it's not something that formed a part of my cultural upbringing in Australia. I'm what might be termed a dilettante gardener. On the other hand, it's a simple preoccupation that gives me immense pleasure here at Gamone... a little like strolling with the dogs, or admiring the mountains.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Solar lamps in the garden

On Bastille Day, Natacha and Alain came to visit me at Gamone. Knowing that I'd created a garden, they gave me a set of solar lamps.

These gadgets remind me of the aircraft I mentioned in my recent article entitled Taking to the sky [display]. That's to say, the lamps soak in energy throughout the day, then, as soon as it's dark, they start to emit an eerie blue glow, which continues to the end of the night.

This is my first-ever attempt at putting a movie on YouTube and then displaying it in my blog. Meanwhile, I'm still investigating the video approach of HTML5. For example, if you happen to have the Chrome browser, you can see this movie on my website at But I haven't succeeded yet in getting it to work with other browsers.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Exotic visitor

I've seen this glorious butterfly at Gamone in previous years, whenever I've had flowering lavender.

It's a Zebra Swallowtail [Eurytides marcellus]. It flits constantly from one lavender stalk to another, and appears to be uninterested in roses or other flowers.

This specimen has a big gap in his starboard wing, as if a predator took a bite out of him. Maybe he simply had a mid-air collision with another butterfly. In any case, this flaw doesn't seem to have an adverse effect upon his flight.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Staircase finished

My garden staircase at Gamone is finished.

Eight steps in all. Here's a closeup view of the upper half:

There's no way in the world that the crumbly earth on either side of the staircase might be persuaded to align itself magically, in the immediate future, with the stone steps. Only the growth of vegetation can play a slow role (no less magically) in filling in the gaps between the staircase and its immediate surroundings. To initiate the process of stabilizing this soil, I've started to plant herbs and shrubs.

In the two photos of the staircase, don't be misled by the perspective distortion. I assure you that all the eight steps are perfectly horizontal. On the other hand, I've noticed a trivial anomaly that had escaped me. Between the 4th and 5th steps, the small riser (vertical slab) in the middle has its ripples running the wrong way. I might have tried to tell you that I made this mistake deliberately, to create an instance of the concept known in Japanese as wabi-sabi, which is defined by an expert as follows:

From an engineering or design point of view, "wabi" may be interpreted as the imperfect quality of any object, due to inevitable limitations in design and construction/manufacture especially with respect to unpredictable or changing usage conditions; then "sabi" could be interpreted as the aspect of imperfect reliability, or limited mortality of any object, hence the etymological connection with the Japanese word "sabi", to rust.

The French potter Maurice Crignon (a friend of Christine) once explained to me that, in the universe of ceramics, the wabi-sabi is often materialized by an intentional crack in an otherwise perfect pot.

The French movie director/scriptwriter Michel Audiard [1920-1985] said (my translation):

Crackpots are lucky.
The light can get into their skulls.

The Canadian poet/singer Leonard Cohen said much the same thing:

There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

In the garden at Gamone, light gets in through that wrongly-oriented slab in the middle of the staircase.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gamone garden staircase

As of this afternoon, my staircase is at last presentable… although I still have to finish all the joints with mortar. Besides, it will look better when the bare earth on each side is covered with thyme.

Those who know Gamone will recall that, previously, we would slide and stumble down into the garden with the help of a few strategically-placed rocks. The new staircase will make it easy to wander back and forth between the house and the rose pergola, which could even become a place for outdoor eating.

After the wet spring weather, there's not much color yet in the garden. And the staircase looks newly-made (as it is). But, compare the present situation with images that date from a year ago. In an article of 8 May 2009 entitled Future garden layout [display], I included a photo taken just after plowing the ground:

Three weeks later, my article of 1 June 2009 entitled Garden under construction [display] presented a photo of the first finished plot:

So, things have evolved satisfactorily since then, and I'm pleased with the results of my efforts.

ADDENDUM: My son François wants to examine at close range the texture of the slabs of artificial stone I've used for my staircase. Here's a closeup photo of the top step, which already has a bit of mortar:

Each slab is 40 x 40 cm, and 3 cm thick. They're quite heavy. I haven't had any cases of breakage yet, but they're probably not as mechanically resistant to blows as authentic stone. Above all, they're not expensive. The total cost of the 30 slabs required for my staircase: less than a hundred euros!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roses emerge from the damp season

Named Lolita, this rose might be expected to bloom precociously:

On the contrary, it's the last rosebush to blossom in my garden. The following variety, Blush Rambler, sprouted a profusion of branches and leaves in all directions (even skywards at times), before calming down and producing clumps of small and delicate blushing blossoms:

This is another so-called rambler, Chevy Chase:

Its brilliant scarlet is likely to dominate my pergola for some time to come… unless the Blush Rambler decides to adopt a more offensive strategy.

Here's a curious image of two former flowers that I removed, this afternoon, from one of the bushes.

They are the carcasses of two drowned roses, which were unable to withstand the recent non-stop rain at Gamone. Like a forensic surgeon, I dissected one of them, to better understand the cause of death.

Inside, reminding me of figs, the delicate gold and pink petals are fetuses of flowers that would never be.