Happy Sunday all.
Sadly, the amazing weather we have enjoyed for the last couple of weeks has finally broken and it has been damp and showery for the last couple of days. While not as appealing for BBQ’ing it will be great for the garden. It is amazing how quickly things grow here with the generally wet and mild weather. The lawns need mowing twice a week to keep on top of them in an attempt to get, and maintain, the green stripy lawn that all Englishmen strive for wherever they are in the world.
It has become very noticeable in the last 10 days just how green things are. While it has felt like spring on and off for the last few weeks, it has only been in the last week or so that the deciduous plants have burst back into life and everywhere is a lush, vibrant green.
We are very lucky at Kergudon to have a little bit of land as the gardens which will become our area of focus when we have completed all of the work in the gîtes themselves. We are also very fortunate that the grounds are effectively a blank canvas that we can work with and create something amazing to add colour and interest.
We are conscious that we need to live here for a while before we make big decisions in terms of planting as once done, things are there for a long time. You will have seen from last week’s blog that we have planted 20 hanging baskets which will provide fabulous colour in the summer but we have also started to plant a number of other items either as stop-gaps or things we can work around.
These include some new hedging to fill the gaps created when we cut back the hedges in February (and we have taken many cuttings to plant next year); some hostas and a new yucca in the front bed which we are planning to make our ‘tropical jungle’; as well as planting multiple bedding plants (those left over from the baskets) and bulbs as we re-discover or re-create flower beds.
There are some existing plants a number of which we know, hydrangeas and laurels which are ubiquitous in Brittany, others we don’t such as a triffid like plants which grow amazingly quickly and make huge bamboo like stems at the end of the year – anyone able to provide a name? Some of the plants have been planned, most have self-set such as camellias and rhododendrons which enjoy the acid soil. Either way we think this year will be a year of discovery to see what grows where and when and see if we like it enough to keep, train or remove it.
We were always amazed at the number of song birds we had in our tiny garden in London, helped we always suspected by living equidistant from 3 of south London’s commons (Clapham, Wandsworth and Tooting.) However, it is nothing compared to the number and variety of birds we have here and the noise they generate throughout the day – more so since we have re-commissioned our bird feeder.
We have seen various finches including bullfinch, chaffinch and greenfinch; numerous tits (stop the sniggering at the back) including blue tits and willow tits; nuthatch; lapwings; jays; swallows; many robins – including one in Granary; wrens – including one in the house; blackbirds; sparrows; swallows; herons (flying); but above all, chickens! We have always had chickens on our list of things we would like but we appear to have ‘adopted’ our neighbour’s four.
Having watched ‘Chicken Run’ (again) recently I think Aardman were onto something. Among Olivier’s quad there is a Ginger who is both bold and curious and where she leads the others follow. She watched very closely when David was digging a new flower bed; and they are all now very interested in the flowers we have planted in the bed; interested too in the work we are doing in the Hayloft (perhaps we should have called it Chicken Coop!); and after a long day scratching and generally doing nothing they relax by sitting in the dirt in our newly discovered garden (David having dug out the spoil inside a buried wall and gaining an additional 10 feet of garden.) They have attempted to venture into the house but we have managed to cut them off – generally.
Most exciting, we have residents in some of the nest boxes I put up earlier in the year so hopefully we will see chicks in a few weeks. The sparrows seem to prefer nesting in the nooks and crannies of the buildings.
Of progress on other items and in the buildings – all very positive and on-track. David’s parents arrived on Wednesday to assist for a week and they have been turned-to applying more paint layers to the rooms in Priory. The car passed its Controle Technique so we can now complete its registration in France and we have all the bathroom items we were waiting on last week – although we had to go to Brest to collect them. More of those pictures next week.