Hello garden hounds,at this precise moment I am over the other side of France in the Jura region, eating Comte cheese and sampling wine. I am so brave I know. Just a quick heads up that I'll be back in Blighty tomorrow evening and will be reading, commenting on and sharing your posts over the weekend ahead - just incase you wonder why I am so quiet...
Last week I enjoyed a sunny Spring afternoon with a Twitter chum FRANCOISE who runs a selection of grow your own vegetables and gardening courses along with rural crafts and skills days from her beautiful garden in Hampshire. The lovely Clare at Maybush Studio suggested that I might like to go and have a chat to Francoise and I was thrilled when she agreed to show me around. It's always nice to meet new people but especially so when they live close by and share similar interests. I learnt so much in such a short space of time, talking to Francoise was so interesting, her knowledge is astounding.
Yep, Lindt bunny bells! Being in the countryside Fraincoise has to keep her plants safe from hungry deer and tells me that they are put off by bright colours and bells. Walking through you catch a glimpse of the greenhouse, which Francoise and her husband custom built for their needs.
Above you see Francoise's wildflower border, grown to show people that you can have the wildflowers you see in a meadow in a small confined space. It's obvious now I stop to think about it but that wasn't something that had occurred to me before. It works perfectly next to the orchard of 100 year old trees. Do you recognise what's hanging on the young tree?
The vegetable garden is a great space, with raised planter areas painted black. Note the block base of the raised beds, complete with damp-course. These were filled with 40 tonnes of top soil, moved 50 metres from the front garden area by wheel barrow. My arms ache just thinking about that...
The potager area is equally as good, Francoise had me nibbling the orange thyme and was explaining about the fruit, vegetable, herb and nut preserving courses that she runs. The thought of learning how to grow herbs one morning followed by how to preserve and use them in the afternoon really appealed to me - as did the sound of making lavender salt and sugar.
Around the rest of the garden the views to the field where sheep and lambs feed is sublime.
And finally Francoise's beloved nettles. she showed me her favourite patch which lies by elderflowers and I found myself curiously asking about making nettle soup. I have a patch in my garden and Francoise tells me a plastic bag full would do. Not dis-similar to watercress soup I am told, I feel I should try to make some on my return from France.