Tag Archives: wisteria

Busy Back Soon

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I am not sick. I have not given up my blog but like Owl in Winnie the Pooh, I am busy! After a sluggish start to the year workwise, I am suddenly inundated with translations. I can’t complain but it’s not easy to juggle with work, the beautiful weather, the garden and cycling.  I am (more or less) keeping up with my photographic blog, Loire Daily Photo. In the meantime, may I invite you to join me in the garden with a cold glass of jurançon in front of our wisteria which came into bloom in just two days!




Monday’s Travel Photos – Spring Flowers in France

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Coming from North Queensland, I have remained amorous of spring flowers ever since I saw my first field of buttercups back in 1975 in the south of France. These are photos taken recently in the Blois and when we travelled back from the Basque Coast. I had never seen flax (linen) in bloom and had no idea it was lavendar. I’m amazed in fact at how many spring flowers are lavendar, white and yellow. I’m not sure of all the names – maybe more knowledgeable readers can fill in the gaps.

Linen flax near Niort
Linen flax near Niort
Wisteria on our house in Blois
Wisteria at Closerie Falaiseau in Blois
Bellflowers in my little wood in Blois
Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides histpanica) in my little wood in Blois
Weiglia in our garden in Blois
Ornamental broom
Ornamental broom in our little wood in Blois
Unknown shrub in our garden in Blois
Guelder rose (or snowball bush – Viburnum opulus) in our  front garden in Blois
Simple white daisies
What I thought were daisies but which are really Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), in the same family as carnations
Speedwell or veronica which, surprisingly, is a bulb
A yellow daisy that’s a bulb but I don’t know it’s name – ostensibly véronique in French
Medlar in our little wood - the fruit are a great favourite with deer
Medlar in our little wood – the fruit are a great favourite with deer
The unknown shrub before blooming, keria japonica and lilac
Guelder roses before blooming, keria japonica and lilac



Meeting the Neighbours in Blois Part 2

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Each time we’ve come down to Blois since we signed the final papers in April, most of our waking hours have been spent getting the gîte ready and planting potatoes in the rain. So this time, we decided we’d have a holiday. Yesterday was our first “work-free” day so after a côte de bœuf cooked on the barbecue in the garden, admiring our reflowering wisteria, we cleared the table and set off for a walk in the twilight. These are the longest days in the year when it doesn’t get completely dark until 11 pm!

As we were walking up our road on the way back from a long ramble at about 10.30, we saw two couples about our age in front of a house whose ivy-covered front façade gives directly onto the road and could hear them laughing and saying, “Shh, not so loud. Don’t be so noisy” – in French of course. So as we got closer, I said, “Who are these people making so much noise in our street?”. Everyone laughed and I introduced us as their new neighbours. Relationnel chipped in, describing the house. “Oh, yes, then you must be the Australian!” came the reply! Once again, my fame had gone before me. Mr Previous Owner had obviously been paving the way for us.

We chatted and joked for a few minutes, then Françoise suggested we all come inside for a digestif, explaining that they had been celebrating her husband’s birthday. We accepted with alacrity. Françoise and Paul arrived in Blois 24 years ago from the Paris area and found intergration into the local community difficult at first. Since Françoise has a degree in English and Paul works for an American company, they have hosted many English speakers over the years, mainly youngsters, but Françoise told us a very funny story about a 74-year old American who came to stay and was surprised at the lack of air-conditioning. She even wanted to change host families but in the end, Françoise was able to get her into the local bridge club and, from then on, things improved considerably.

Their neighbours from just a couple of doors down, Liliane and Alain, are real locals. Well, not quite. Lilian is, as she, her parents and grandparents were born in Les Grouets, which is the name of our neighbourhood. She knows all the local history and was able to fill us in on the area. I had noticed Alain’s accent but didn’t like to ask where he was from. Not that he would have minded. He’s a great wit and obviously the life and soul of any party.

It turns out he’s Solognot from the region called La Sologne, between the Loire and Cher rivers and only a stone’s throw from here. It’s known for its forests and lakes and was a favourite hunting ground of kings and princes. Its most famous châteaux are Chambord and Cheverny. You may remember that we went to a huge brocante at Chambord in May.

We learnt from Paul, who’s in IT, that we’ll be getting a fibre connection in 2014, which is wonderful news. Françoise brought out her iPad (oh, wasn’t I jealous!) and took photos so I told them about the blog and the Loire Connexion community for anglophones masterminded by Summer Jauneaud. Françoise was delighted because she doesn’t have a lot of opportunities these days to speak English.

The time slipped by incredibly quickly, no doubt helped along by some sort of mint on the rocks digestif and we didn’t leave until well after midnight! What a wonderful start to our holiday ! And very encouraging for our future life at Closerie Falaiseau.

Gardens I Have Known

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I spent my first 9 years in France living in a flat and biding my time until I could have a house and a garden again. It finally became a reality when I was pregnant with Black Cat and Leonardo was nearly 2 1/2. It was a funny sort of a garden, 10 metres wide by 30 metres long, but typical of the area which used to have a lot of orchards with espalier pear trees. I was into organic food then and we grew apples, hazelnuts, black currants, red currants, tomatoes, strawberries and, best of all, raspberries which the kids loved to pick for dessert. We also had the most wonderful old style rose bushes with the most divine scent.

Before I had my own roses, I didn’t particularly like them but the garden had an enormous variety and I took immense pleasure in picking them to give to my friends who didn’t have gardens. There was a lovely yellow one which started out pink and a red rose whose petals felt like velvet. I was so sad when we grew a hedge of thuya bushes for privacy and it crowded out most of the roses. We realised the damage too late.


When I divorced, I had to give up my garden but I was lucky enough to find a ground floor flat with a small garden that we gradually turned into a mass of flowers. We had trumpet creepers and clematis, hollyhocks and azaleas, columbines and delphiniums, irises and forsythias and even a lilac bush, all of which would all suddenly appear after winter. Every year in November we’d plant lots of tulips, jonquils and hyacinths, tiny pansies and cyclamens. We had lilies of the valley for May Day as well.

In the summer, we’d plant masses of busy lizzies, geraniums and nastursiums. Our hanging pots were filled with petunias and begonias. Just thinking about it makes me nostalgic! Then we moved to our apartment in Paris overlooking the Palais Royal gardens. We couldn’t even have window boxes at first because it’s a listed monument. But I finally convinced Relationnel into letting me have planters on the sills of the French windows that you can’t see from the other side.

So you can imagine how much I’m looking forward to our new house in Blois. I can’t wait to see the shrubs come into flower and discover all the different species in the garden. The little wood at the back is full of daffodils and primroses and even tiny ground orchids. I know there are hollyhocks because I’ve seen the leaves but no one has mentioned any columbines or delphiniums. There’s a climbing rose on the front stairs but it looks a little lonely so I’ll have to see what company I can find. And I can’t wait for the wisteria to bloom in April!

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