21 November 2011

November in the garden

Stories on the French news broadcasts have been saying that the major airports around Paris and the national government are ready... for snow! They've got contingency plans. They've got equipment at the ready. There will be no repeat of the chaos last year's November and Decembers snowstorms caused for French drivers and international travelers. Everybody is enjoying the irony of it all.

That's because we are still having spring-like weather in northern France, including the Loire Valley, and here it is November 20. Thanksgiving — which is not a holiday in France, of course — is this Thursday (as you U.S. readers know). This kind of Thanksgiving week reminds me of Novembers on the North Carolina coast or in the San Francisco Bay Area — both are places where I spent many years of my (younger) life.

It's almost strange to see the path out to the back gate
not covered in rotting apples.

We were out working in the garden — I'm using that in the British sense (= yard) — yesterd
ay morning and afternoon like it was September or May. What a strange weather year this has been for us. It was unnaturally warm and dry from March through June. Then it was unnaturally rainy and damp in July and August. Now the weather has been fine (again, British English, meaning not just "okay" but "beautiful") for all of September, October, and November.

This is some kind of sage bush that we brought back from the
mild and temperate Ile d'Oléron 3½ years ago, wondering
whether it would thrive in Saint-Aignan. It has.

What did we do in the garden yesterday? Well, as usual, we picked up 1.13 million apples (I counted) that were lying on the gravel path and under some tall grass that has grown up under the big apple tree. This was a year of abundance for that old tree, which at the same time appears to be in decline because of advanced age. A huge branch fell off back in June, when the weight of all the apples got to be too much for it. Next year we won't get much more than 1.13 dozen apples from it.

Callie likes the mowed grass. It makes it easier for her
to find her tennis ball when we throw it out there.

I packed up all the dahlia tubers that I had dug up last week, putting them in crumpled newspaper in a big cardboard box. They'll spend the winter in the cool, dry garage. Next year we will plant a new bed of dahlias somewhere in the yard — if the tubers don't rot or get completely dessicated.

The spruced-up rosemary bushes

Walt trimmed the lavender plants just outside the back door and we started thinking about whether we might move them to a better spot too. I trimmed the two big rosemary bushes that we planted along the south wall of the house five or six years ago. They are quite happy in that spot, and have grown big and, well, bushy. We pledged to start using more rosemary in our cooking, and I tied up bunches of the rosemary clippings to hang head-down in the utility room for drying. That way we won't have to go out in the cold and rain or snow this winter to cut fresh rosemary for all the good things we might cook with it.

Anticipation is growing as we await delivery of a new sofa
that we ordered in October for our downstairs living room.

If it ever rains, that is. I'm sure it will, one day. There are entire winters during which we don't get any snow at all, but we always get rain. I hope I don't have to take that statement back next April.


  1. We cannot believe the weather. Unusual, but very welcome. Walking the dog in a T-Shirt does not make me miss Calgary. At all

    Those Rosemary bushes are big indeed. The aroma of them must be intoxicating.

  2. Oh, your yard looks lovely... always!

    How exciting that a new sofa is on its way soon! We need a new one for our downstairs family room, but haven't found the right color. I hope you'll post pictures when yours comes!

    (1.13 million -- heh heh )))

  3. Lovely sofa. What colour is it? I mean the one that is about to be delivered? Martine

  4. Hi Martine, it's that color -- taupe. We think it will go well with the other colors in the room.

    Judy, okay, it was 1.129 million. ;^)

  5. Your sofa looks very nice. DD is sofa shopping and it's not easy to find right color/right price.

    I put some rosemary in roasted veggies and like the flavor. It is also really good with roasted almonds. Rosemary, it's not just with lamb anymore;)

  6. Beautiful sofa .Like the colour also.
    I use rosemary a lot for roasted chicken ( split whole one) in a Dijon mustard marinade.

  7. I've been looking into square foot gardening, which is "potager en carré". Here are a few sites I've found: http://www.monpotager.net/potager-en-carres.htm

    You can have the frames at different heights and if they are about a foot high, it's supposed to be wonderful for your back.

    I'm going to try 3 1.2m squares.

  8. Interesting post, I am so glad that I have visited your site. Such a wonderful time reading this.

  9. For the past few years I've taken roasted vegetables with rosemary and thyme for my contribution to the neighborhood Thanksgiving dinner. Next year is the year I will get in my own rosemary bush! Yours looks quite happy along side your home.

    The new sofa looks sturdy and firm, the kind I like, too. Easy to sit in and easy to get up and out of compared to those cushy ones.

    Mary in Oregon

  10. Maybe we'll name it the Cheryl Smith Commemorative Sofa. LOL.

  11. Hi Ellen, our vegetable garden plots are 4 m by 4 m. I can certainly see the advantage of having smaller plots. That way, you can reach everything from the edges without disturbing the other plants...


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