16 December 2015

Les Bouleaux et les terres pauvres

« Les bouleaux poussent en général sur les terres pauvres et souvent siliceuses... » — "Birches generally grow in places where the soil is poor, and often siliceous..." That means that birch trees like soil that is composed of quartz sand and flint. That describes the region we live in. Flint stone was a major industry in the Cher river valley — at Meusnes, for example, a village just seven or eight miles upriver from Saint-Aignan.


Our house has a name. It's called Les Bouleaux, and there's a sign saying that on the front of the house. The term bouleau has both Celtic and Latin origins, apparently. I don't know if giving houses a name was an affectation, or if the custom dates back to a time when the houses in our hamlet didn't have street numbers. At least three other houses in our hamlet have names, including Bella Vista, La Grange, and La Ruine. Ours is The Birches, and there are birches in our yard (and in the photos here).


« Les bouleaux sont des plantes pionnières qui constituent souvent la première formation arborée lors de la reconquête ou de la colonisation de landes par la forêt. Ils apprécient les sols plutôt acides et humides. » I'm quoting the French Wikipédia article about birches, which are described as "pioneer plants" that often are the first trees to grow when "heath" or "moor" (scrub) land is taken over by forest. "Birches like acidic, damp soils," it says.


I think grapes also like poor soils. People here describe the land all around our house as « de la terre à vignes » or "grapevine soil" that is very different from the rich river valley soils down the hill from us by just a few hundred meters. That's why we have worked hard over the past 12 years to improve the soil in our back yard garden plots by tilling a lot of compost into it every spring. Considering how poor the soil is, we've done pretty well with our vegetable gardens.

8 comments:

Suecee said...

Interesting info about the birches. Thank you. I have learnt a new French word and was really pleased because, once you had translated les bouleaux, I could read all the rest in French. I love the way the French have these lovely simple but often multi-meaning phrases like il pousse and il marche (or il ne marche pas). Is all the ridge behind Saint-Aignan also on the flinty soil?

Seine Judeet (Judith) said...

You sure have done pretty well with it!
This is a nice shot of the side of your house -- one we don't usually see.

ladybird said...

I've always wondered why people tend to plant birches by three! Any idea? Martine

Evelyn said...

Are you storing your wood in a new place now that you have two cars? I had no idea your soil was so poor for gardening. I'm glad you were able to improve it.

LaPré DelaForge said...

Martine...
trees and shrubs are always planted in odd numbers...
it is a landscaping thing.
1, 3, 5, 7, wood, forest.... etc.
My wife even does it with flowering plants... usually in fives.
It is all about shape.

Gosia k said...

lovely trees

Diogenes said...

I didn't know what Les Bouleaux meant before your post.

Birch trees are very attractive, imo, with their white bark and yellow leaves in the fall. I remember my mother used to make "birch beer" for us as children, which is like root beer, but made with an extract from the birch bark.

As for naming homes, that seems like something many people do for their vacation homes in the States.

LaPré DelaForge said...

In't'UK the numbering is an inner city thing...
then, as you move out into the suburbs names start to appear...
along with a number...
often a bit "twee" near the city...
Dunroamin, The Laburnhams, The Pebbles spring to mind...
as you go further out...
the older the house in the suburbs or city, the more likely it is to have a name...
which often indicates that it was actually once rural...
Forge Cottage, Rose Cottage, The Oaks...
and go with what you surmised...
the newer builds having numbers only
then you get rural...
and it almost has to be a name because of isolation...
although I did see in the Dales...
three old farm tied-cottages named...
Number One, Number Two and Number Three!!