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!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A gift from a friend....

As a gardener, receiving a plant from a friend is always a wonderful present and even more precious if it's been home grown. 

Walking around the garden after all the extremely cold weather we've had recently in northern Brittany, there is still relatively little colour in the garden apart from this rather stunning Iris reticulata - which I received last year as a gift from a gardener/designer friend in London.  It was beautifully potted up with its own wooden label (a recycled lolly pop stick- an idea worth considering)  which had been marked in pencil and which I planted out in the autumn.  It now occupies a sheltered spot near to the house and has been in bloom now for a good couple of weeks despite the freezing temperatures.  Its vivid colouring certainly brightens up the garden and definitely a spring bulb worth considering.

It's lovely to have reminders as you walk around the garden of friends and family (past and present). When we moved to France some 8 or so years ago I know the plants in my garden in Bristol, UK that I was most keen to bring with us were those that I had received as gifts - a rose ( Jacques Cartier) that I'd received as a leaving present from another gardening friend is now flourishing in our garden here and is a lovely reminder of our visits together to garden centres enjoying the odd bacon sandwich with a cup of coffee as we did.... something unfortunately that we don't get in France! 

There are also many reminders of the many visits to Cornish gardens & nurseries with my Mum and Dad over the last number of years during my visits to see them when they lived down there. 
Another favourite of mine is the Rose Sourire D'Orchidee which a client gave me - one they'd grown themselves from a cutting.

Why not consider something which is both easy and  fun, and that is to save both cuttings and seeds to give as gifts - it doesn't take a great deal of effort but there is a lot of joy in being able to share something that you've either grown yourself or that comes from your garden. 

Knowing as you wander around the garden as I love to do when time allows (normally accompanied by a mug of coffee) that different plants were given to you from different friends and family is very special.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Belated Happy Valentines....

This just seemed to be the perfect Valentine posting.... being that this day was supposed to mark the point in the year when birds paired up with their mates, I thought this was perfect!  We've only ever had, in the 8 yrs we've been here - 1 lonely Goldfinch ever visit our bird table and it was great excitement when yesterday I spotted 2 on the niger seed feeder... and they're there again today so maybe here to stay... I do hope so!   
 So if like me you like Goldfinches, do put out a feeder filled with Niger Seed and be patient... it's all worth it :-)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Brittany winter garden visitors...

One bonus of the cold weather is the variety of birds it brings into the garden... best not mention the quantity of bird food I'm getting through at the moment!!  This little ceramic feeder was a Christmas pressie and the birds love it... they can get right inside it and just enjoy a good feed of the mixed seed/nuts that I've got inside... a bit like a bird version of Santa's Grotto!!

After everyone's comments about the feeder, I thought I'd just post some info on where you can buy one... and they do send overseas as well - http://www.capitalgardens.co.uk/ceramic-wild-bird-seed-feeder-p-21463.html - hope this helps!

Having seen all the advertising for the Garden Birdwatch which took place in the UK recently it's been interesting to see a few changes in the numbers and species of the birds visiting our garden this winter too.  We have many Blue and Great Tits, Robins, more Chaffinches than normal, Greenfinches (not so many), Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Sparrows, Wrens and Nuthatches too but I've not seen many Song Thrushes, Redwings or Fieldfayres either, but maybe they are yet to arrive.  I have also spotted the odd Gold Crested Wren as well which is v. exciting.

We've never had many Goldfinches visiting our garden which is a shame - we had one it's own that came last year and despite putting out a niger seed feeder we still have only one... they're quite a splash of bright colour in the garden at this time of year!  Maybe it really is Billy no mates and the same lonely bird that keeps returning?!

The weather in Brittany this last week or so has been pretty cold - I think it was about minus 7 degrees C last night so we've done our best to provide the birds with a number of feeding stations this year - their favorite spot though, is in the trees where there's a bit of shelter and protection from the Sparrow Hawks around here.

One thing not to forget about is providing enough water for the birds which they desperately need when the weather is this cold.  Our water feeder has been frozen solid every day!

This rather handsome male Great Spotted Woodpecker (they have red on their head as well as their tummy!) spent quite a bit of time on the fat balls today.  It's a good time of year for spotting they around here with the lack of foliage on the trees.

Do hope you're keeping warm and that it's not as cold where you are... 

Do consider our little feathered friends in the cold weather as they really do depend on kind people putting out what they need in winter just to survive.  If you live in the UK I could highly recommend BRINVALE BIRD FOODS - I ordered some fat squares when I was last over and their service was EXCELLENT - so helpful and very reasonable and if you order over 10kg delivery is free - my order arrived in 24hrs!  If you decide to give them a go do let them know that you got the contact from this blog (I don't get any payment for this but it's just good for them to know!)... many thanks