12 August 2015

Questions and answers

I know what the plant pictured just below is, but do you recognize it? It's a plant on which I was surprised to see little berries. It's not a plant you often see at this stage of its life cycle. This one is growing wild right outside our back gate, on the edge of the vineyard.

I don't know what this flower is. Can you tell me? It's growing in a neighbor's yard, but she's not here right now, so I can't ask her. In fact, I think she might be in Arizona or in California on vacation right now (she's French and has never been to the U.S. before).

How dry has this summer been in the Loire Valley and all around France? The photo below is an indication. Can you tell what it is?

It's supposed to be in the mid-90s F here in Saint-Aignan today. And we are supposed to start having thunderstorms and rain tonight and tomorrow. We really need it, but we don't need high winds. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen out in the vegetable garden and I'd hate for them to blow over.


  1. The first plant can be found in supermarkets as white or green. If I'm not mistaken, those little berries will turn black as they ripe. The second plant looks like Veronica or Speedwell, but I don't think it is. In the third photo, where are all the waters gone...

  2. The first one is : " groseilles à maquereau "
    Here is what I found :Saviez-vous que...
    •l'un des noms anglais de la groseille à maquereau est « baie pour la fièvre » (« feaberry ») car le fruit, riche en vitamine C, est utilisé depuis des siècles contre la fièvre.
    •les pépins de la groseille à maquereau contiennent des acides gras oméga 3, excellents pour la santé. Ces acides gras polyinsaturés sont essentiels au bon fonctionnement du corps et de l'esprit.

    1. Jean Laine, non, je ne crois pas que ce soient des groseilles à maquereau. Elles sont plus grosses et plus ou moins translucides. Si je ne me trompe, il s'agit ici d'asperges sauvages.

      D'après Wikipedia, Feaberry est une appellation britannique. Aux États-Unis, elle est connue sous le nom de Gooseberry.

  3. The first plant is garden asparagus and the seeds will go red. Those seeds are the reason it spreads so easily and far and wide in the area.

    The second plant is Buddleia davidii, in modern times often called Butterfly Bush, but known to most gardeners as Buddleia (often erroneously spelt as 'buddleja'). Until very recently it was recommended to gardeners who wanted to encourage biodiversity in the garden, but it is an invasive alien (famously spreading along railway tracks) and although it provides nectar it provides no larval food. Most people (including me) are still a fan of it in the garden. It's a lovely plant, but if you want to encourage biodiversity, lavender is better.

  4. CHM is spot on with number one... but the berries usually turn red...
    The second plant is a Butterfly Bush...
    aka: Buddleia, or more correctly Buddleja... but also spelt Buddlea...
    this is a nice, dark flowered one.
    It is a weed! In certain circumstances, notably on wasteground in the European temperate zone... they have taken over...
    It is also a garden plant, in the right place.... my favourite is Black Knight... a really, really deep purple...
    it is another of pére David's discoveries.

    With the tomatoes, we have a post at each end of a row of spirals...
    a wire running along the top from post to post, is attached to the spiral...
    this really does stop those extremely good, but very flexible spirals from toppling...
    and not just from the wind...
    Ananas, Noir de Crimée and Oxheart are all very top-heavy when the upper fruits develop!

    Never heard of a Feaberry... gooseberry is the normal UK English name...
    but all names in the UK seem to have a lot of local dialectic versions!
    And as for the Omega 3 content of the pips... probably under analysis...
    but like red and white currant pips...
    they are rock hard and most probably pass out the other end, unused and untouched!

  5. It will be interesting to hear what your neighbors thoughts were on her first visit to the US.

    Although I think I'm knowledgable about plants, I hadn't a clue about wither of the two you posted. So maybe I need to reassess.

    I saw on the news last night about your dry conditions and high temps. They also mentioned mid 90s in Warsaw and rivers down to very low levels.

  6. The flower is buddleia, or butterfly bush. Comes in colors from gold to white and all shades of purple to blue.

  7. I noticed this morning out in the vineyard that a big plot of land that had been invaded by Scotch broom has recently been mowed. I'm happy about that. Broom seems to be taking over a lot of land around here.

  8. Ken...
    just made the recipe on yesterday's post...
    only using some veal we had in the fridge.

    It was absolutely wonderful!!

    1. That sounds good. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe.

  9. That third photo sure looks like the blackberries around here look like right now.

    1. Hi Chris, that photo shows what is normally a water hole out in the vineyard. Earlier in the summer, wild plants grew up all around it, thanks to the water left in it. It has gradually dried up completely over the course of the summer. Last week somebody came and cut down the dried-up vegetation and threw everything into the dry hole.

  10. Hi Ken,
    I was looking for more info about Sainte-Aignan as it will be our French base from next spring and I have found and am enjoying your blog. We are an English couple who live on the Isle of Wight but keep a touring caravan in France. We have been based at Airvault near Poitiers for about 14 years but have arranged to store our caravan at Couffy from next April. We enjoyed the camping at Les Cochards for a week in June this year and are so looking forward to exploring the area more next year and for the foreseeable future.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?