* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May flowers

March winds bring April showers.  April showers bring May flowers.  What do May flowers bring?  Pilgrims!

Today is Ascension, one of those aforementioned French May holidays.  It is the commemoration of the ascension of Jesus into heaven forty days after His resurrection.  While it's one of those Catholic holidays that the average non-religious Frenchman is loathe to give up, they don't really care what the significance of the day off is; just don't take away the day off.  As one day is fairly equal to any other day chez nous (except Sundays, where church does play an important role in our home), as we no longer need loyalty to any school or work calendar, this particular date only represents an annual weekend trip to visit good friends with a wine château who have a festival at this time every year.  (More on that after the fact!)

While our property consists of many rustic corners that defy our efforts to tame them, here and there are pockets where I've actually been successful at creating a little bit of beauty.  I spend so much energy trying to fix up and then maintain my gardens, I end up not actually taking time to appreciate them if they actually perform!

Outside my kitchen window
I try to plan blooming time in any given area to coincide with when that area will be used.  The garden outside my kitchen can be seen from the window over the kitchen sink, so early blooming plants work nicely there when it's still too cool to sit outside.  Especially pretty is the planting in the pockets of the massive olive root system.

We have to be in the actual pool area to see anything there, so summer plants make the most sense.  Areas that are just there, that need to be passed by but not stayed in, need low maintenance plants that hopefully will keep down the massive weed structure underground everywhere here.

Focal point at end of path
So it was with pleasure and a little sense of pride I realized that the little space outside our bedroom is actually doing what it was designed to do.  It really only gets seen when it's pleasant enough to sit outside, most of it is hidden by a big olive trunk, but it was an ugly weed mess when left out of sight, out of mind.  I tried to design a low maintenance plan, I used just various plants growing wild all over the property, I made a particular little focal point where it's easiest to be seen.  Then I just took it for granted when it actually worked!

There isn't much space between the tree and house, so I planted some lemon balm that grows like a weed here to smell pretty and soften the mineral look, while I took a lot of little stones in all our dirt to make a little path.  I planted more pretty weeds in pockets of the tree root.  At the end of the path, I placed an interesting rock and then various flowering plants around it.  I planted some campanula around the rocks holding the garden in from the path, and this is the first year I've seen them be so happy.  This is what we can see when we sit at our table on the other side of the doorway (off camera on the right).  A delightful area to have a warm spring breakfast.

Behind the tree
The rest of the garden is mostly hidden from the yard by the olive tree, but it is quite visible from the front porch, so it needs to be quietly pretty, too.  Not having any room for more walkways, I've strategically placed a few decorative rocks that act as stepping stones.  There is a very large pocket on that side of the tree, so I planted some tall upright perennials in the wandering jew family.  Right now it has pretty purple flowers, but you have to walk out to the end of the path to see them!

As this garden is on top of a high retaining wall, I didn't want anything growing any taller, so I have a couple of miniature pomegranate bushes that multiplied from my original I bought when we were still up in Paris that I used as anchor plants.  I've cloned lots of lavender and rosemary, so there are a few baby plants coming along.  I just transplanted last fall some trumpet vines, so I'm waiting for them to take hold and start softening the look of the high wall.  The whole garden has been mulched with the pine needles that fall all over the steepest part of our driveway from the neighbor's tree.

While the story of the pilgrims isn't timely at the moment, the May flowers are definitely in bloom.


  1. Your various garden spots really are lovely. I can easily imagine than they are a source of pride when you see them.

  2. Your flowers are all pretty. V's finally getting some blooming geraniums.


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