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!

Monday 30 August 2010

A table for 1...

Unaware of a personal booking for this little surprise visitor at the bird table yesterday late afternoon I was very fortunate that this little Woodmouse hung around long enough for a few photos!!  I've never seen one on the bird table let alone during daylight hours - I thought these were traditionally nocturnal creatures!?

Living in the Brittany countryside in France is never short of surprises!

This was another surprise that I was lucky enough to spot with my camera at hand - this Heron was perched in the massively tall Poplar tree at the bottom of the woodland next to the stream.
Another bit of excitement that I had recently, was to see the return of the Nuthatches (after not seeing them here for nearly 1.5 years) - 3 in total were spotted but on the whole there appears to be a pair regularly visiting the nutfeeders.  They're fantastic little birds and very entertaining - typically feeding upside down on the feeders unlike most other birds.

And finally to complete this story - one that could have been disastrous for this poor little fellow who I discovered in our woodburner in the sitting room - I could hear a weird nose from the kitchen so went to investigate only to discover he or she had fallen down the flue of our stove and there it was madly tapping the glass of the door of the stove with its beak - so glad I was around to help!  Anyway - I opened the doors to the garden and opened up the stove door and the little bird only flew straight towards the window and knocked itself out cold.  I was v. concerned to say the least - picked it up and it lay in my hand and decided to walk outside and it started to come back to life.  I reckoned the safest place to let him recover was within the confines of the bird table and there he sat on the railing watching all the other birds coming and going - he was very young and probably not quite ready to leave the nest but having gone away to make a cup of tea, I returned to find his perch empty and he was no where to be seen so can only believe that he was off and away and off to start his life somewhere...

Do hope you're all having a good week and are enjoying more of the sunny warm weather that has returned this last 2 days...

Recycling - why do we need to bother?!

This is a question I've heard more than just a few times and RECYCLE - The Essential Guide will I'm sure impress on you why you should bother!  It's a new and exciting book, packed with interesting facts and ideas and should be a No. 1 choice on anybody's Wish List!

RECYCLE - The Essential Guide includes an introduction by the One Show's Lucy Siegle and is one of the best informed books I've read on this topic.  Information and case studies are included on recycling projects across the globe and show clearly how recycling is essential and not a mere choice of "do we or don't we?"  If you're not convinced then I've no doubt that by the time you've finished reading this book you will be...  There are so many varied ways of recycling - it's not just about recycling your rubbish!

Being a keen gardener one of the obvious ways of recycling in the garden is that of composting which not only helps to reduce the amount of rubbish in your dustbins but has many added benefits to the garden and the soil including helping you achieve better vegetable crops, enjoy healthier plants and aid in reducing the amount of actual watering you might need to do over the warmer months of the year.  There is a very comprehensive chapter on this subject with some great suggestions on how to create your own wormery as one example.

If you would like to order a copy, you will get a 40% discount as a reader of this blog and you should email Jessica Atkins mentioning that you found the details on my blog site.

Definitely food for thought!

Wednesday 11 August 2010

A June & July Update....

I've never known such a busy time both workwise and in our own garden as it's been over the last few months... well infact for quite a lot of this year!  We have had such a dry summer here - bar the last 2 days that is and for a good part of June/July I've had to do quite a bit of much needed watering too which has cut out any possibility of spending any time on my own blog or catching up on all of yours' - I've really missed this too but something has had to give and hope to get back to this v. soon if I get my own way!

Over the last couple of months I've been saving up quite a collection of photos to share on here and at last a brief moment to do a posting...

One of the biggest joys this year have been all the feathered visitors we've had - for a number of weeks we had Mummy and baby Woodpecker visiting - breakfast consisted of small morcels from our fat balls!

We've also had various families of swallows which have been nesting in a number of sites in the granite outbuildings too - none of the scary situations we encountered last summer!

I wish I'd had time to photo all the baby birds around the garden and the woodland - here are just a couple more of my favorites. These two little cheeky Blue Tits and not to forget the little Wren.

The garden earlier on this summer has been a picture of colour - less so now but that is usually the case - here are some of the photos of the garden to give you an idea...

Some of my favorites amongst the plants too...
Then not to forget some of the beautiful roses either...

And last but not least I've got to mention the crop of currants this year, cherries and now the plums - it's been an incredible year for fruit and there are some fabulous blackberries on their way...  I do hope you're having a great summer where you are too and hope to catch up with all your blogs as soon as I possibly can... Happy Gardening....

Saturday 7 August 2010

Places still available on New Brittany Garden Tour in September...

An exciting new Independent Garden Tour in the wild and beautiful Côtes d’Armor on the north coast of Brittany - September 14-17th September 2010 still has some places available....

Clare Whately of French Gardens Today is leading the Tour in association with Cricketer Holidays - “I’m starting to think the French are rather better gardeners than we are” was the comment made by a guest who came with Clare last week. Come with us and see if you agree with her!

We will be visiting Les Jardins de Kerdalo, Le Grand Launay, and two other private gardens in the area.

£395 per person which includes visits to these four gardens [two of which never open] welcomed and guided by the garden owners, two lunches, a party with the garden owners at a local Château on the final evening, travel advice and a list of recommended Chambres d’Hôtes, Hotels & Restaurants, coach travel between the gardens each day to and from our Meeting Place.

Accommodation and transport is not included on this Tour and is by your own arrangement – using, if you wish, our personal recommendations where rooms have been held for you.

Clare will be your Tour Leader and will interpret for you in the gardens. If you would like more information about these tours, please her on 01420 541321 or to book call Cricketer Holidays on 01892 664242.

These gardens in northern France look superb in September. You will find inspiration for your own garden and new ways with familiar plants.

Tour Details and Itinerary

15th and 16th September: two days, £395 per person. You will require accommodation for three nights: 14th, 15th and 16th September.

This Tour is based around the world famous garden at Kerdalo, on the wild and beautiful Côtes d’Armor between St Malo and Roscoff. We will explore the rocky coastline and deep-cut inlets, granite villages and misty valleys to arrive at these extraordinary and very different gardens. The owners of the three other gardens were drawn here by the Prince Wolkonsky’s inspiration and promise of good soil and mild climate. Two never open to the public. Their owners will be our guides.

Tuesday 14th September: independent arrival at accommodation reserved by you, using if you wish, our recommendations.

Wednesday 15th September

Les Jardins de Kerdalo. Kerdalo represents the lifetime’s dream of Prince Peter Wolkonsky who aged 65 moved here and started work to achieve one of the finest gardens in France. He chose this manor farm in its enclosed valley with natural springs, overlooking the River Jaudy, for its soil and climate. His vision involved terracing the valley, channelling the streams into a sequence of lakes and pools, and creating shell-lined pavilions, grottoes and pergola, as well as formal gardens and meadows. Since the Prince’s death in 1997, his daughter and her husband, Isabelle and Timothy Vaughan, gifted graduates of Wisley and Kew, have taken over this garden and breathed new life into it. Christopher Lloyd was a supporter and gave them massive encouragement.

Our lunch will be served here at Kerdalo by the owner, Isabelle Vaughan.

Le Grand Launay; The owner a, Parisian film-maker and journalist, arrived at this abandoned 17th century manor farmhouse in 1973 to find a three acre garden protected from the wind, well-irrigated and with rich, deep soil. Later they met and like the ideas of garden designer Gaël Bôedéc. This partnership has produced the remarkable and unusual contemporary garden we see today and which was honoured with the Societé Nationale d’Horticulture de France: Prix Bompland in 2008. Black walls and wrought iron, paving and canals reflect the dark grey of the house although this colour is usually cloaked by the greenery. Box, lonicera, osmanthus, beech and yew have been tailored into steps, balls, tables, clouds and other unusual shapes.

Thursday 16th September

A private garden which is rarely open. The owners were directly inspired by Prince Wolkonsky to buy this late 17th century house just over twenty years ago and to create his own remarkable garden on the borders of an estuary. The variety of soil, drainage, shelter and microclimates have allowed him to offer the right growing conditions to a huge range of plants – yet he has achieved visual harmony amongst this diversity. Themes emerge: the exotic garden, the English garden, the garden of the southern hemi-sphere, the magnolia meadow, the aquatic garden, the waterlily and the iris gardens. You will see some rare treasures and learn from this dedicated and passionate gardener who looks after his plants and borders entirely single handed.

Another garden - never open to the public. The owners discovered this farm with its glorious views over the bay in 1991. They have designed their garden themselves and look after it with the help of only one other gardener. The garden has a formal plan with an intimate atmosphere; there is an awareness of colour theming but this does not dominate. You will see unusual and interesting plants, often treated in new ways – many shrubs are trimmed into mounds and other shapes. When Christopher Lloyd was invited to choose a garden which inspired him for Erica Hunningher’s ‘Gardens of Inspiration’, he selected this one and wrote that ‘the  owners have the highest standards in design and cultivation’. Our lunch will be served here.

Our End of Tour Party on will be held at the Château de Kermezen on Thursday evening.

Friday 17th September: Depart

Each Day starts at 9.30am and ends at 5.30pm at Les Jardins de Kerdalo.

Price includes:

· Visits to four outstanding, often very private, gardens. Each visit is exclusive to our group

· A welcome and personal guided tour at each garden by the owner and/or the Head Gardener

· Two course lunch each day usually offered by one of the garden owners

· A party on the final evening - champagne/canapés with the garden owners and other French friends

· An interpreter to translate for our garden guides

· A list of recommendations for local Hotel/Chambres d’Hôtes accommodation where rooms are being held for you to book if you wish

· Comfortable daily coach travel between the gardens with fruit juice/Breton or Normandy biscuits

· Travel advice, restaurant suggestions, maps, directions to meeting places and contact information

· Clare Whately will be your Tour Leader
For more information about this tour, please call Clare Whately on 01420 541321

To book, please call Cricketer Holidays on 01892 664242