Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Garden: Olive Tree Revisited!

Back in summer 2016 I made the first tentative prune of our olive tree as it had massively outgrown its space. I fully intended to complete the task in the following spring assuming it hadn't died as a result of my first attempts. You can read about the first chop here. 
This was the size of the problem.

And after the August 2016 chop, we could at least see out of the study window again!


Inevitably the intended spring prune to finish the job didn't happen, so by February 2018 we were pretty much back to square one. The view from the study window was obscured and the inside of the room was very dark.

As the tree appeared to have suffered no ill effects from the original brutality, and inspired by the beautiful, highly clipped and frighteningly expensive olives at the garden centres I decided to be strong! 

One of the reasons for cutting in late spring is, I believe, to avoid the cut limbs from getting waterlogged and then rotting. After the wettest winter and early spring for decades it wasn't until April before I finally felt confident enough to do the job.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Garden: A Brief Taste of Spring

It is mid March and the vernal equinox, normally a really busy time. I would expect to be dashing up to La Mongie or Peyragudes for some skiing, returning home in the middle of the afternoon as the snow turns to knee breaking slush in the warmth of a spring afternoon but in plenty of time to get some more seeds sown. 

But not this year - this morning it was still snowing down here at 300m, and although that has now turned to drizzle, at a mere 2 degrees, it is far too cold for outdoor seed sowing. And after an incredibly wet winter my clay soil is still very cold and inert. But after two years of drought, I refuse to complain about the rain - the local reservoir looks full for the first time since 2015!

The endless damp days have not made for good photography chances, but I did manage to snatch  few yesterday morning, before the snow returned!

Peach Blossom - our very first and although the tree is trained against a south facing wall, I suspect the return of winter will prevent us getting our first fruit this year.

Goat Willow - I have this everywhere and it buzzes with bees on sunny and warm days. It is also the food plant of the Purple Emperor caterpillar, a stunning butterfly that we see often.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Bastides of the Gers

One of the joys of living in the foothills of the Pyrenees is being able to turn our backs on the mountains when the weather is poor - that sometimes all too brief period when the snow begins to fall but before the ski season kicks off - and head north into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Gers.

Snowfall - not good motorcycling conditions.
Throughout the summer our neighbouring department is all sunflowers, vineyards and a million camper vans, but in late autumn the majority of the visitors have left and for a motorcycling enthusiast the empty rolling roads become a playground. I love nothing better than cruising along at a steady pace, quick enough to get a thrill in the bends but slow enough to pause and watch a peregrine or harrier overhead.

Our last couple of forays have been out to explore some of the medieval bastide towns and villages in the Gers. These two were on the latest 200km round trip.

Lupiac - birthplace of the real d'Artagnan.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Garden: First Frost

With the temperature falling to minus two last night it is time to say good bye and thank you to all the tender plants that make the potager something special in the summer. 


All the peppers, chillies and aubergines are destined for the compost heap this afternoon, along with courgettes, tomatillos, cucamelons, basil plants and many others that I've forgotten.