Monday, 19 March 2012


Ever wondered what £60-worth of Pelargonium x ardens looks like? 

Me neither. 

But here they are - see left.

It’s a wonderful plant, deep maroon flowers edged in finest scarlet. We got ours from the lovely pelargonium specialists Woottens of Wenhaston. Hopefully they'll look like this before too long: 

They're notoriously difficult to propagate and establish - hence the price. I’ve killed several in my time - it’s not like the bedding geraniums (zonal pelargoniums to the pedantic) which don’t mind you going on holiday. Over-watering, under-watering - this one will notice instantly and spite you by dying. Not just wilting a bit to make you feel guilty - but properly, expensively, dead.

So it was with great relief that I planted them out today, from their tiny, vulnerable-to-just-one-hot-afternoon 9cm pots, to big pots with Aeonium 'Schwartzkopf' for company. Its rich shiny blackish leaves will pick up the maroon in the petals. And very nice they look too.

Monday, 5 March 2012

All shook up.. Freshest Breath Ever

Mayor in Flowers. Note the <ahem>
appendages. Someone favour hunting?
Sunday brought us to the Violet Festival at the nearby village of Tourettes sur Loup. Warm sunshine and coachloads of Italian Grannies on a cross-border jolly.  Stall after stall of violet-related tat and vaguely edible violet related foodstuffs. And some fantastically misleading pot-pourri that looked like sweets and had names like ‘Acid Fruits’ and of course ‘Violet’

Which I, accidentally, ate.

Luckily for me so did the French bloke standing next to me. We both pulled faces worthy of an Edvard Munch painting and fell about laughing. Schadenfreude isn’t always justified but I think it was sufficiently mutual to not count against my karma this time!
I woke up later that night from a deep sleep, dreaming I was being shaken from my bed. As I woke I realised it wasn’t a dream and I was actually being shaken. Puzzled, I looked around the room to no avail.  The following morning the news proclaimed France’s biggest earthquake in sixty years, 4.9 on the Richter Scale. I felt a bit cheated having spent aaaages in New Zealand, one of the most seismically active countries on the planet, and having felt not even the teeniest tremble; and then to be shaken from my bed in an old French house below a huge cliff strewn with massive boulders, well....
Sharons in the snow back in Jan
ANYWAY... this is supposed to be a gardening blog so... what’s been going on... Well I had my first ‘acid test’ if you like... the chance to show what I know to instant effect.  On the terrace below the new vegetable garden there is a line of persimmon trees (sharon fruits), which had been horribly hacked in the past. The poor things had been brutally attacked and lost all their natural grace and beauty. It’s a statutory lesson in fruiting trees - to put it simply they only fruit once they’ve “finished growing” - i.e. they’ve established their framework of branches and settled down to the business of reproduction. Cut into them hard and they behave like petulant teenagers; they grow back fast, get gangly and achieve very little!
So under the watchful expert eye of C I began cutting away all this spindly leafy growth, to expose what was left of the structure of the trees and give the fruiting wood some space.
They look tonnes better but I know it will be a fight. It takes time for trees to recover from that kind of shock. I’ll be up a ladder in May rubbing out the buds of those pesky teenagers as they try to regain lost ground, but it’ll be worth it in the autumn - when with any luck the display of big, gaudy, waxy, bright orange fruits (true ‘Sharons’ of the fruit world) will be even better than last year’s. Wish me luck....
Before. Persimmon/sharon fruits to the left.
Better pic to follow!