21 April 2017

La maison au printemps

The smudge pots in the vineyard near our house were burning at 2:30 a.m. but they seem to have gone out now. Our temperature this morning is just slightly higher than it was yesterday this morning — still just a few degrees above freezing. The afternoons are sunny and pleasant, though.

The house creates its own little heat bubble. Just a few steps away, out in the back yard, it's colder early in the morning. Walt just told me that he noticed yesterday that the leaves on our little fig tree have frozen and shriveled up. We'll just have to wait and see if it will recover. Same for the apple trees.

The greenhouse so far is proving to be a major improvement. It really dresses up the back of the house, and it's useful as well. It has stayed warm inside, and you can really feel the difference when you come back from a walk out in the cold. In these photos, you can see a wisteria, a lilac bush, and a stand of lavender that we've planted over the past 10 years.

Our house is a really typical 20th century French house. It's called a pavillon sur sous-sol — a pavillon is a small, single-family house, usually surrounded by a yard, and a sous-sol is a basement. In this case, and often, the basement is not actually below ground level. Our sous-sol has lower ceilings than the floor above it (which is the main living area, with kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms) and is made up of a big garage, a cold pantry (un cellier), a utility room, a small front porch, and an entry hall with stairs up to the main level. And now a greenhouse.

A few years ago, when we had a mid-April freeze like the current one, we didn't get any apples at all. Also, the local grape harvest was reduced by about 30%, according to reports. People here like to tell us how they got 6 inches of snow one year back in the '70s or '80s on about May 10. So there's nothing unusual about this weather. April being cruel and all...


  1. Your house looks beautiful with all those shades of purple. I hope the apples do recover

  2. Même dans le Loir et Cher c'est une belle époque .

  3. It really does look beautiful out back. Hoping for the best for the fruit trees.

  4. Your home and garden are so beautiful. The greenhouse was a wonderful addition.

  5. That is the way I would daydream a home in France ... flowering fruit trees, wisteria climbing, no other house in sight .. you have a lovely home. The stuff of great daydreams :)

  6. The greenhouse is so neat. I think there will be apples this year.

  7. It looks so pretty and peaceful!

  8. Your house and grounds are lovely. In the third picture, on the left side, are those two cold frames on the ground?

    1. Yes. We have used them a lot over the past 10 years, but now we have the greenhouse. They will still be useful, I think.

  9. I've been such a spotty reader of your blog, and I really have missed it. So nice to see the back of your house--and the greenhouse! What a great idea and how nice to have it adjacent to your home. The wisteria looks amazing.


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