We’ve been in St Vaast four days and we’ve managed to make some inroads into the gardening tasks. The grass is cut, the edges trimmed. We never get on top of the plants which seed themselves in the gravels at the front and by the back gate but Nick and Mum set to with kneelers and sunhats. Myriads of young foxgloves have to be unrooted along with the pernicious horsetails. The Mange tout and Broad beans need supporting on pea sticks. The line of potatoes which will be ready for JACS to dig in August is doing well.
The roses are the best ever this year and Nick spends time picking off the rusty leaves and cutting off spent flowerheads. Along the borders there is no shortage of foxgloves which I allow to flower wherever there are spaces. There is one pale, baby-doll pink one by the back gate – I must try and collect seed to propagate it. I’m very fond of foxgloves, I enjoy their promiscuity and willingness to set plants all over.
There is a lot of weeding to do and we only scratch the surface in the time we have. Delicious as our chunky compost is, ideal for the fine mineral-rich sandy soils we have in St Vaast, lots of seeds survive the brewing process, I suspect we don’t leave it quite long enough to mature. There are hundreds of Nicandra physalodes seedlings to remove – I move three volunteer seedlings to a site near the Pittosporum and these are the only ones which will be allowed to flower.
Of the Fuchsias that were bought for our Ruby Wedding Dinner Party last October the one given to us by Susie and Charles, and the late-flowering one with long droopy flowers have failed to show any signs of regeneration after being hit hard by frost even though they were under glass in England. I empty their pots.
On our last evening in St Vaast we are invited for apero with Francois and Anne. We are given a glass of bubbles and take a walk round their garden. Mum is thrilled with this turn, not least because we are feted by the Poulet’s dogs Loupiac and Rully (they name their family dogs after wines!). Anne’s roses are also fabulous this year and, it being a mature garden, they are substantial bushes. One rambler has found its way to the top of a Yucca clump some 4 metres high.
Sitting inside their conservatory which runs the length of the back of the house we have a constant view of the garden. A butterfly flits across the tops of bushes which prompts Anne to say they have seen many butterflies during the past few days. We have also seen dozens in our garden. They are all Painted Ladies but go by other names: Vanessa cardui, Cynthia cardui, Thistle Butterfly, Cosmopolitan. This latter because of their worldwide distribution. Well, this butterfly by any other name cannot be more beautiful. And they only live for 2 weeks.