I obviously hope you enjoy browsing through the postings on here - do feel free to leave comments as it's always good to see who's visiting and to hear about other people's experiences - after all you never stop learning do you?

If you've any gardening questions or you live in Brittany and are looking for some gardening help - be it design work, planting or general gardening or you simply would like some advice, please don't hesitate to CONTACT ME or call me on 0033 661 77 23 89 (from UK) or 0661 77 23 89 (from France).

Happy gardening!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The productive garden....

There really is nothing nicer than the satisfaction you get from picking a selection of fresh vegetables from your own garden knowing that what you are eating is free from all the rubbish that gets sprayed on crops these days and that you end up with something that also tastes twice as nice as anything you could buy at a fraction of the price... not forgetting the added benefit of eating it freshly picked rather than days old... I think I will always remember that fabulous smell of freshly grown tomatoes wafting from my Father's greenhouse - just after he'd watered them! I must admit I couldn't quite understand how he could get so excited about all the fruit and veg they grew... but I'm fast realising why!

Until coming to Brittany I'd really not had a lot of experience of growing fruit and vegetables myself - I'd learnt all the theory and had at least grown a few things but love being able to try different varieties with so much choice available. One thing I'd never grown before was Rainbow Chard - quite delicious and a great alternative to Spinach... definately worth a try!

I've now harvested all the onions I planted earlier in the year and have been drying them out on the staging in the greenhouse - soon to be carefully stored away.

One success this year is the homegrown Basil - fantastic with tomatoes and salad dressing! Basil isn't always the easiest herb to grow - I did these from seed and have put them in pots in the greenhouse - they seem to do best this way. Another herb that I love in the summer is Dill which goes very well when cooking fish.

It's been a good year for Salads - the Romaine Lettices did well - and they're delicious with a Caesar dressing. Salad Rocket is also another of my favorites - the more you pick the more that seems to come back.

Never underestimate the ability of some vegetables - especially ones that produce flowers in the way they manage to draw wildlife into your garden - the flowers on the runner beans alone, have been great for bees and butterlies!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Something's been eating the Fennel!

I must admit I do go out and take a quick walk round the garden most days - usually accompanied by a mug of coffee to check on any progress on things that need attention.. and this last week noticed that all the new growth on my Fennel plant was disappearing fast until I noticed this rather fantastic caterpillar... went and consulted my Collins guide to Butterflies and Moths only to discover that it was that of the Swallow Tail Butterfly - quite beautiful and I've only seen one in our garden this year.

Since the weather has been warming up this week I've been aware of more and more butterflies visiting our garden and thought I'd share a few pictures of these too. Favorite plants include the flowers of Oregano & Marjoram, and White Escallonia - definately worth including in your gardens if you're keen to attract butterflies yourself. There are other more obvious plants like Buddlea which is commonly known as the butterfly bush!

And to finish a couple of pictures of my sweet peas!

Hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend...

Monday, 7 July 2008

Leaving home...

It was a joy to see that our family of swallows fledging one by one from their nest in our stable... a large family of 5 for such a tiny nest - these past few evenings two of them have been perching on the edge as they're just to fat to fit inside the next all together other than piling on top of each other!

I took the picture of them as tiny babies - beaks peeping over the edge of the nest on 25th June - and in such a short time they've come on leaps and bounds.

They were all back in the nest again tonight after flying lessons with Mum this afternoon - all be it rather windy which made landing on our roof quite difficult.
They are just so cute - couldn't resist sharing them with you...

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A visit to a Brittany Garden...

It's been a busy old time of late, not allowing for much time to write my blog... I'm hoping I may have some pictures for a new posting shortly as the other evening whilst out walking Lucy I managed to spot a very young family of water voles having a wonderful time in the water - doing sommersaults in the water and munching away on the reeds... saw one today and had hoped to get back with my camera but just didn't have time - so watch this space! It was very exciting anyway!

Getting back to the subject of my post... we met up with some friends this weekend at the Parc Floral de Haute Bretagne near to Fougeres as it's been on my list of gardens to visit since we got here and at last we managed to find a slot in the diary!

We took a picnic with us which was great - a covered picnic area is provided in an old barn just outside of the garden itself or you can pick your spot on the grass - wonderfully peaceful!

The garden was really interesting - with plenty of work in progress too. It has been created around the Chateau Foltiere where you can even stay in a room fit for royalty and have the place to yourselves in the evening when it is closed to the public!

There were some beautifully areas of planting which looked fabulous - carefully designed and planted with some beautiful Cornus contraversa variegata (Variegated Dogwood trees) to add to the spectacular - they have a wonderful collection of Hemoracalis (Day Lilies) and Alstromeria which really caught my eye as well as some beautiful Japanese Acers which are very much suited to the sheltered nature of the garden.

Another favorite bit was the Blue Lagoon - an area to the front of the Chateau, which has all been planted in shades of blue and mauve around a large pond.

Finally the area which we nearly missed was the beautiful walled garden complete with it's decorative potager and espaliered fruit trees as well as a colourful collection of herbaceous perennials and roses.

There were areas of the garden which were slightly disappointing but the areas described above really made up this - a garden in my opinion that is well worth visiting and one of the few places that serves up a decent cuppa - they have a range of hot and cold drinks, ice creams and cakes - open every afternoon - sit out on the terrace in warm weather or they have a room inside the chateau for wet occasions.

Don't miss the nursery afterwards - the variety of plants is great.... :-)