With the exception of the occasional shower, Mum’s visit has been graced with fine weather: sunshine with moderate temperatures. We have eaten virtually every meal at the round table on the terrace. The awning has rendered good service by protecting us from early morning or late afternoon sun and light showers. The table has also served us well in that Mum and I have used it to tidy up potted plants, prepare food for meals, sit with a drink and watch the birds feed from the fat ball and the blue plastic box of seeds on the low wall.
This latter receptacle of bird food has given us much amusement because the birds tend to stand inside the box and peck at the contents, periodically lifting their heads to check that the coast is clear. Our French garden avian fauna is different from the species we watch in England, where our most frequent visitors are tits, nuthatches, robins, magpies, jays ……… squirrels. Mum and I have seen a charm of finch species (Green, Chaf-, Bull) and house sparrows.
We also have Thrushes in our French garden. Nick had noticed that they use the paving slab between the two narrow beds adjacent to the gravels by the back gate as an anvil. Ever anxious to encourage garden birdlife, Nick has taken to rounding up garden snails………… and precracking them!……….. to lay out as offerings. If only there were a mutation of thrushes waiting in the wings, to make good inroads into our garden snail population. (I initially typed ‘regiment’ of thrushes then thought to check for a collective noun. I love collective nouns.)
Of the 6 sunflower seeds I set, three germinated. One fell when snails undermined the central stem, another is weedy. We have one fine flowerhead which I hope will ripen sufficiently well that we can harvest it and offer it as a platter for our birds later in the year.
In the same flowerbed my two Echium are now huge and I am left wondering if they will flower this year. As similar plants (I think the same species since they are multi-stemmed) were in flower back in late April on Tatihou I wonder if mine are going to keep me guessing another year.
Before Mum and I leave St Vaast I pop over the road to see my friend Anne. Currently housebound, it’s really good to see her and I take over a pot of smoked mackerel pate. She is busy making new blinds for the windows of their long road frontage. But she has some good news in that they have recently secured the services of a gardener who they would recommend. Since one of our great frustrations is that we find ourselves working flat out in the last days of a spell French-side to get the garden sitting pretty – only to return in a month to the threshold of wilderness – a young man to support our horticultural labours would be ticketty-boo.
Before we leave France I take a photo of Mum standing next to the Fuchsia and Hydrangea she has lovingly pruned of dead foliage. Before I left England I arranged with a neighbour for some watering of pots in dry weather. I gather it has been rather wet so she has been relieved of the task and I’m expecting to go back and find things looking verdant and a bit colourful.