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Summer vacation

Ever since Wednesday night's thunderstorms, it seems that summer has gone away on vacation. The air is much cooler, much cloudier, and it rains off and on. I want to cut the grass, but it's too wet. I need to weed the vegetable garden, but it's too wet. At least I don't have to water outdoors. A summery day last week out in the vineyards. It was raining lightly when I woke up this morning, and I see by the radar that a mild thunderstorm is headed our way in the next hour or so. More serious st...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, The Vineyard


The tomatoes are forming

This is one of our first tomatoes of the year. It's a roma and it's not much bigger than an olive, but it's a start! The storm on Wednesday night really battered the plants. Almost all of them were lying on the ground Thursday morning, but they weren't damaged. I've since pulled them back upright and tied them to their stakes as best I could. As they continue to grow that will get easier. It won't be long before I know if the calcium treatment worked to prevent blossom end rot. We had more rai...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Honeysuckle in the hedge

I mentioned the other day that chèvrefeuille (honeysuckle) is taking over a section of our hedge out back. Here's a view of that section from outside the back gate. The hedge is composed of laurier cerise (cherry laurel). Mostly. The large oval leaves you see are the laurel; the white and yellow flowers are on the honeysuckle vines that are intertwined with the laurel trunks and stems. Honeysuckle thrives in this section of the hedge. We had a doozy of a thunderstorm last night between 01h00 a...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Bert, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants


Tasha Tuesday on Wednesday

Tasha's trip to the groomer's went well. She got a bath and a trim and a good brushing. She still needed to be muzzled because she snaps when her hair is pulled by the brush. That's one of the reasons I don't brush her as often as I should. Here she is on Tuesday morning as we headed out for our walk. Tasha still has a lot of fur. Sheep dogs! I'm planning a run to the dump this morning. It looks like we might have thunderstorms and rain over night. I'll keep an eye on the forecast. but I shoul...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha


Chèvrefeuille

A section of our back hedge has been taken over by chèvrefeuille (honeysuckle). Its name (in French) means "goat leaf." I don't know why. I also don't know if the hedge is in danger from the plant. It's fully integrated in the hedge and would be very difficult to remove. It's been there since we moved in eighteen years ago, but there is considerably more of it now than there was then. Some of the honeysuckle flowers are white and others are yellow. We'll be taking advantage of our summery spel...
Tags: Travel, Wildflowers, WCS, Tasha


I'm looking over

A patch of clover. Nothing special about these. They're common plants in the margins of the vineyards out back. And now they're flowering. These are white and the most common, but there are others with purple flowers. Now that I type that, I realize I should have taken a photo of the purple ones. Vineyard clover at sunrise. We're enjoying a really nice spell of summery weather. Sunny dry days with high temperatures in the mid to upper 20sC (around 80ºF). The vegetable garden is enjoying it and...
Tags: Travel, London, Wildflowers, Novak Djokovic, WCS, Queen s Club, Halle Germany, Stefano Tsitsipas


Bird ghost

Every once in a while, a bird will mistake the sight line from our deck through the house to the den window for a clear flight path. The problem is that there is glass in the way. Bam! More than one little bird has met its end crashing into the deck windows. Some are lucky and are only stunned for a few minutes before getting up and flying away. The other day the rising sun lit up this imprint of a bird and its wing on the glass. I don't remember when this bird hit the glass or whether it sur...
Tags: Travel, Wildlife, WCS


Blue geraniums

The variety is called "Rozanne." I found them at a nearby farm that offers "pick your own" blueberries and raspberries along with a very large selection of irises. I brought home a few pots of these geraniums and transplanted them into larger pots for the deck. They didn't do very well. One day, I saw them planted in a border in Blois and thought that I should try that. I went to the farm for a few more pots and put them in a triangular bed next to our garden path. They've thrived there for seve...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Blois, Rozanne, Garden Flowers Plants


Grape buds

It's that time of year. The grape vines are about to flower. These are grape flower buds on one of the vines out back. The flowers look to be abundant this year. When they open, they won't really look like flowers as there are no visible petals, just pollen spikes. Shortly after fertilization, the grape berries themselves will form. These grape buds will open soon, then as the grape berries form and get heavier, the bunch will bend downward. Today is a busy day for me. Tasha has a grooming app...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Ma demoiselle

I think that this is a demoiselle (damselfly). I found it dead in our bathroom, trapped inside a plastic bag that was drying in the tub. Poor thing. They're abundant right now, flying around the back yard, probably reproducing in the pond out back. Sometimes they get caught inside the green house. They either get out on their own or die trying. The live damselflies I see are blue. This dead one's very green. It's about an inch (2.5cm) long. It's time to start weeding in the vegetable garden. W...
Tags: Travel, Wildlife, WCS


Artichauts

The artichokes are doing their thing: producing flower buds. In theory, these are edible. We tried once, but the chokes were small and tough and not really worth the effort. Since then, we let them flower and enjoy their color. The bees also like the artichoke flowers, so that's a good thing. Artichokes, four for a euro. The biggest one is about the size of my fist. Yesterday I mixed up a diluted solution of garden lime and watered the tomato plants with it to help prevent blossom-end rot when...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Another view of the birches

I'm expecting two of these three birches to be gone in a few weeks, so I thought I'd take another photo from a different angle. They were once pretty trees and they look ok in the picture, but the two on the left are completely dead. The third one might come out, too. It's got several dead branches and I think the time is short before it suffers the same fate as the others. Just to the left of the birches you can see one of rose plants we moved years ago. The one on the right, next to the clot...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Sunday sunrise

I was outside with the camera right around sunrise on Sunday taking pictures of the zucchini blossom. The sky was partly cloudy and the sun was painting pink light on the clouds. So, naturally, I pointed the camera skyward. Looking west at sunrise from our yard toward the vineyards. Two weeks from today is the summer solstice. We're still gaining about a minute of daylight each day, but that will slow down and reverse as June ends. Our weather hasn't been very summery so far. I hope that chang...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard, Garden Flowers Plants


Our first zuke blossom

I just put the plants into the ground a week ago. Now we have the first zucchini blossom. I don't expect an actual zucchini yet. The first blossoms frequently whither and die while the plant continues to produce leaves, but it's exciting to see nonetheless. One of two zucchini plants in this year's vegetable garden. It looks like the rain is over and we may get a few sunny days. The garden will like that a lot. I will spray the toms with bouillie bordelaise again today or tomorrow to keep them...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Market day

As most regular readers know, Saturday is market day in Saint-Aignan. When covid struck last year, the market was shut down for a while. When it re-opened, it was moved from a square in the center of the old town to a bigger place on the edge to allow the vendors and shoppers to spread out. Over time, most of the old vendors reappeared along with some new ones and more and more shoppers got comfortable distancing and wearing masks at the market. Over the past couple of weeks, people are still ma...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Saint-aignan


Roses

Here's today's glamour shot: our garbage bin. Dressing it up a little is a rose that we transplanted to this spot many years ago. It's pretty much the only thing we can get to grow in this "wild" corner next to the driveway. The previous owner had two of these growing on either end of the clothesline. We dug them up and put one here and another out along the north side fence (the one that was damaged by falling birch limbs in December). One of the clothesline plants re-sprouted from roots, so no...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants, Klassy Thunder


Mowing between the drops

I mowed the south forty on Wednesday morning, including the strips alongside the road outside our hedges. I also do one of our neighbors' strip just because I'm out there. She asked me once to do it because she hadn't found someone to hire to cut her grass after her regular guy retired. She wanted the outside strip to look nice even if her yard (not visible from the road) was still not done. I was happy to help her out and I've been doing it ever since. She's moving down south this summer, so I'...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Industrious

I hope I can be as productive as these little ants today. I want to get some grass cut ahead of the predicted thunderstorms/rain this afternoon. Not that I spend my time lying around watching soaps and eating bon-bons. I did watch some tennis and eat some cookies. Otherwise, yesterday, I planted out a few more seedlings: eggplant and jalapeño peppers. I did some edge trimming. I turned the garden water on and then off. I checked on some drying oregano. And I made pizzas for lunch. Ken did a good...
Tags: Travel, Wildlife, Ken, WCS


Green at last

Our chilly month of May really slowed down the growth of leaves on the grape vines in the vineyards around us. But now that the weather has started to warm up again, the vineyards are getting greener. The growers out back have spent the last day or so spraying what I'm assuming is a variant of bouillie bordelaise, a copper sulfate solution that helps prevent fungus from damaging the leaves and grapes. The solution is available to home gardeners, too, and I will soon be spraying my own tomato pla...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard, Garden Flowers Plants


The potager is in

The vegetable garden is mostly planted now. I put in sixteen tomato seedlings on Sunday morning. There are nine kale and about eight Swiss chard plants, two zucchini, and a long row of beans, half green and half yellow. I still have two seedlings each of eggplant and jalapeño peppers, gifts from a friend. They'll go in soon. And there are climbing beans and peas planted along two sections of the trellis fence. I have room for two more long rows of beans. One of them will require an extra length ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


The oregano patch

For lack of new photos, here's a close-up of the oregano patch. It formed years ago when some oregano I had planted in the vegetable garden escaped and naturalized itself as part of the "lawn." I let these patches grow without mowing them so I can harvest and dry it for kitchen use. There's a lot more out there that does get mowed down. I guess it likes growing there. Patches of oregano ready for harvest. Interestingly, the oregano doesn't taste like much when it's fresh. Only after drying doe...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Wildflowers

The most common wildflowers in our yard (aside from dandelions) are yellow renoncules (buttercups), blue véroniques (speedwells or veronicas), and white paquerettes (lawn daisies). They grow as part of our "lawn" and get mowed down a lot. But they thrive, especially when I can't cut the grass for a while because of rain. Wildlowers and grasses make up most of our lawn. Last weekend I was able to mow and cut all of these away. Since then, the weather has warmed up and the "grass" is growing aga...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Soaker hose

This is my first attempt at configuring the soaker hose in the vegetable garden. The good news is that the hose seems to work just fine. The bad news is that I might need more. I'm going to rework the layout today so that I can get things planted, leaving space for future rows of green and yellow beans. I may have to get another shorter length of hose in the coming weeks. The first layout attempt comes up a little short, but now I know what I'm dealing with. The hose is fifty meters long. I ma...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


The west forty

This is the largest section of our back yard, home to the vegetable garden and the garden shed. On the left is one of the two remaining apple trees. The vegetable garden plot is visible in the middle. And, look! There's Tasha on the right! Looking westerly. The posts on the right edge of the garden plot support a trellis for climbing beans and flowers. The green clumps in front are the oregano patch. It's time to start harvesting and drying the oregano. The vegetable garden plot is now ready ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants


The north forty

This is a view of the section of our yard that I call the "north forty." I'm standing under the Himalayan cedar looking east. Our house is on the right. The three birches are the ones coming down this summer. Behind them is the big round juniper bush that is also coming out. It's hard to see, but it's full of tree saplings and thorny blackberry vines and is a general mess. We'll have a bare patch for a while before the grass and wildflowers fill in. The birch branches on the ground are what's ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Tasha Tuesday

Here's Tasha standing in front of the damaged sections of our north-side fence. I did my best to tie the fence to the posts, but the guide wires that support it between the posts were severed when the branches fell on them. The wire fence itself is significantly deformed and actually sliced in two at one spot. Still, I think my patch job will keep deer out until the fence can be repaired. Tasha "helped" me gather downed branches and twigs. One of us had fun. I see from the weather forecast tha...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants


Their days are numbered

These three birches stand in what I call the "north forty," the section of our property that is just north of the house. Since we've lived here, it's the shadiest section of the yard, but that is changing. Two years ago, we had the pear tree removed after it died. It was in the northeast corner, just outside the upper right of this photo. Just over a year ago, we had an ailing spruce removed. Now, two of these three birch trees are dead and are scheduled to be taken down this summer. The third m...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, Garden Flowers Plants


Radis multicolores

Yesterday's market run was successful. I found everything I went for. As usual this time of year, I got une botte d'asperges (a bundle of asparagus that weighs one kilo), deux barquettes de fraises (two containers of strawberries), and une botte de radis multicolores (a bunch of multi-colored radishes). Brightly colored locally-grown radishes. These are larger than the more common red radishes. We haven't tasted them yet. I also got twelve nems (Vietnamese fried spring rolls), four each of por...
Tags: Travel, France, Ken, WCS, Food And Cooking, Radis


Intense

The pivoine (peony) is flowering now. There are more open flowers today than since I took this picture on Monday. The red color is really intense and I have a hard time making the photo look like what I actually see, but it's close. Peonies in the back yard. Today is market day in Saint-Aignan. I'm going for asparagus, strawberries, radishes, and some nems (what the French call Vietnamese fried spring rolls). There's an Asian vendor at the market selling nems, fried rice, and other Asian food....
Tags: Travel, France, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants


Our first artichoke of the year

It's one of two or three little artichokes on our biggest plant. Not enough to do anything with except watch it/them go to flower. It's a small artichoke, about two or three inches high. Ken got the final tilling done in the garden plot on Thursday and it looks great. Once the rain and chilly weather calms down, I'll be able to plant our seedlings out and sow bean seeds. But first I need to set up the tomato tripods and lay out the new soaker hose for watering. I was also productive yesterday:...
Tags: Travel, Amazon, Ken, WCS, Garden Flowers Plants