Thursday, 9 May 2013

Monet and me

I love Monet's paintings but most of all I love his house and garden at Giverny. I've been twice and look forward to more visits. Granted it's always too crowded with tourists but that's hardly surprising when it is so beautiful and the history is so fascinating. The whole garden is just beautiful and of course the water gardens are stunning.

What I hadn't realised until recently was that when Monet was painting his water lilies they were such a new botanical phenomenum. Up until around 1880 the only hardy water lilies in Europe were white and it was thanks to the work of a certain Joseph Bory Latour Marliac in South West France that new coloured hybrids were cultivated and first exhibited at the World's fair in Paris in 1889, probably where Monet first saw them.

tribute to a famous customer!

The Latour Marliac water lily nursery is still open and now houses the National water lily collection of France in a beautiful garden, it also cultivates water lilies for sale and so with a new pond to stock we set off for a visit yesterday - after all whats good enough for Monet is good enough for me! I could have ordered on line but it was so much nicer to visit and choose from the real thing instead of pictures in a catalogue.

The terracotta pots are apparently antique 
cassoulet pots which were used to mulitply the lilies

Early May and the flowers are just starting to open and there were plenty to choose from but I'll have to go back later in the year to see the lotus in flower.

The personal service was impressive too. 
After helping us decide on plants suitable for our 
pond Mr Sheldon ( the current owner) collected them 
out of the ponds, prepared and packaged them. 
At lunchtime he had been a waiter in the restaurant! 

So now my pond is stocked with  some promising water lily plants

- it may not be as big as Monet's pond but the lilies came from the same place !


Sunday, 5 May 2013


- or the writing on the wall.

I had a bad knee - in that my long time dodgy knee was playing up more than usual - in the end to stop getting nagged at I went to the doctors.Two trips to the doctors, X rays, blood tests and the end result is ....I've got a bad knee!

It is of course arthritis, the doctor's cheerful diagnosis is that the knee is "abimé" and will continue to get worse. I'm not even going to start asking about my back! So nothing I didn't know already - and  the writing was on the wall as my symptoms are so like problems my mother has had for years.
So what to do ?  The main objective for me is to keep on dancing and walking so while I'm waiting for the pool to warm up I needed to think of an extra fitness regime to take a bit of weight off the knee and strengthen the leg muscles. I'm not generally good at "doing exercises" and I'm hopeless on a bike ( had an exercise bike once - think I used it twice - very dull! My solution is to take the dog for a brisk walk every day.
 A cartoon of a dog running
BUT.... we haven't actually got a dog and have no desire to get one so I take my "imaginary" dog. He's great - walks quite fast so I have to keep up with him but is happy to slow down on the way back, he doesn't bark or yap, run off and jump at strangers or pick fights with other dogs, he has amazing personal hygiene so no smelly bags of poo to carry, and is happy to go whatever time of the day I choose. Its a bonus to have 20 minutes to myself to appreciate the countryside surrounding our house, listen to the birds,watch the butterflies and generally think myself fortunate to live here. Yesterday having got very stiff sitting in the car driving backwards and forwards from the shops the dog and I got dropped off 1 mile short of home as I knew once I got back it would be hard to get motivated. Wonder how long it will last! TC is already surprised that I'm keeping it up every day.

 Not that there's much time for sitting about at home - so much to do at this time of year and the improvement in the weather means lots of planting to be done - all those seedlings are now well grown and ready to face the world! Over 800 little plants plus the tomatoes, courgettes etc so been very busy .

Most of the plants for my annual flower display are now planted - I just have to keep chasing the hens out to stop them uprooting the lot.

Not happy about the unexpected frost last weekend which nipped at my potato plants but I think we got away with it. The tomatoes are now all in and the  broad beans and peas are looking great already.

The biggest progress in the garden though has to be the completion of the pond. When we moved in there was a corner of the garden which had been abandoned to a heap of rocks ( as it turned out on top of more rocks - it was rocks all the way down!).


When the pool was installed we sweet talked the terassier into digging out the beginnings of a little pond - the hole has stayed over several season changes but TC has now finished the job and we have a lovely pond which already has its first resident frog.

 As for the graffiti  - its summertime, the sun is shining at last, got lots to do and the dog needs a walk!