24 May 2016

Cars, trains, and plants

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty one. The rain ended before 8 a.m. — we collected 37 mm or 1½ inches in the gauge between Saturday evening and Monday morning — and the sun warmed us up to a pleasant temperature in the high 60s ºF.  But it's cold this morning — 8.5ºC (high 40s ºF). It's supposed to be sunny again today, with showers tomorrow.

I kept this big coleus plant and two others going all winter indoors. My plan now is to take cuttings and start some new plants to put out on the terrace this summer.

Even with the pleasant dry weather, the ground is really saturated. The pond out back was still overflowing late in the afternoon when I took Callie out, with a steady stream of water running down the hill on the north side of our yard. As a result of the wet and the cold, we still haven't been able to set plants out in the vegetable garden.

Peonies in a neighbor's yard...

Yesterday I got my tickets for a short trip to Paris in the beginning of June. I want to go see the renovations and restorations at the Panthéon and, especially, go up onto the balcony around the dome for the views from up there. I spent several years working in the neighborhood around the Sorbonne and the Panthéon back in the 1970s and early '80s, and I'd like to see it all from above. If you're reading Walt's blog these days, you'll see why.

...and roses in the same yard

One of the big news stories in France right now has to do with gas shortages because of strikes and demonstrations around the country's refineries. According to reports, lines are long at gas stations all over the country. Sunday morning I went over to Intermarché to pick up a few things and I noticed that cars were four or five deep at the three or four pumps over there. Lucky for us, the Citroën's tank is full and the Peugeot's is half-full, so we don't have anything to worry about. We don't drive much anyway.

I don't recognize these berries growing in another neighbor's hedge.

I'm glad I decided to take the train to Paris rather than try to drive. I'll only be there from Sunday morning until Tuesday evening, and I won't need a car. In fact, it's a hassle to drive in the city — I don't enjoy the stress of it any more — and it's expensive to park a car, because there's no free parking in the city now — not even on Sundays — during daylight hours. A space in a parking garage costs 25 to 30 euros a day. If you park on the street, you are required to move your car every two hours and find a different space. If you don't you can get an expensive ticket.

The amaryllis bulbs I brought back from North Carolina and potted up this spring have started to bloom.

If I lived in Paris — and at this stage I doubt that I ever will again — I definitely wouldn't own a car. Out here in the country, you can't really live without one, because public transit is so scarce. I see a lot more taxis on the roads around Saint-Aignan that I did 10 or 12 years ago, however, so there must be some demand for their services. You can always take a taxi to the train station (there are special low prices for those trips) if you don't have a car, and the train service here is good, whether you want to go to toward Paris, Lyon, Tours, Brussels, Bordeaux, or Toulouse.


  1. Going on the leaf, the berries belong to a Mahonia / Berberis... The berries of some are edible when purple....they possibly all are, but the big ones are the only ones worth gathering.

    Your Coleus looks quite showy...I like these and the foliage Begonias....but what is the fascinating plant hanging down at the back...it looks like a "string of beads" plant on steroids!! A fun plant...always a talking point!!

    1. Hi Tim,
      You beat me to it. I was ugoing to say that judging from the leaves those berrires were probably those of a Mahonia. Lol
      The plant in the back of the coleus is a sedum from Mexico (Sedum morganianum) known in the States as Donkey Tail.

    2. The donkey tail plant is one I brought back from the U.S. years ago as a tiny piece of stem with a few "leaves" attached to it. I found it on the floor in a garden center, actually, and stuck it in my shirt pocket. I brought it back, planted it, and you can see what it has become. It needs repotting (they, actually -- there are two pots of them now) but I'm not sure how to go about it.

      So the berries are the product of the yellow flowers I posted a picture of a week or two ago, you think?

    3. Oh, in that photo of the berries, I see bay leaves as well as what looks like holly leaves.

    4. The holly-like leaves would be the Mahonia's. Those yellow flower you posted before are from a Berberis with round leaves. It's not clear if they're the same genus or not.

    5. I thought those were holly leaves, too. Are the Mahonia and hollies related?

  2. Mahonia's grow wild in our woods. I also had a couple in our yard in Cincinnati. I never knew you could eat the berries. The yellow flowers are lovely. You are lucky to have Paris a few train stops down your road.

  3. You sure are fortunate that you don't have to drive anywhere on a daily basis, right now.
    Lovely, lovely, LOVELY photos :)


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