We arrive in St Vaast and before unloading we step outside the back door to survey the garden. It is no worse than we imagined and, in fact, given the length of our absence from France, rather less overgrown than we had envisaged. Once the lawn is mowed we will be able to prioritise the general tidying work that is required.
Before we set to I make sure I take some ‘before’ photographs. I don’t always do this but I should, for the record. So what do we find? Well, some of the bee orchids now have flower spikes, and the delphiniums and iris in the round bed are flourishing. I am glad to see that the Melianthus that Paul gave us is established and the single stem is looking more robust and we will hope for new shoots from the base. The Hellebore bed near the BBQ is in need of weeding – Fumitory and Buttercups have set up residence. The new Eucomis bulbs in pots are shooting and the bed with the Alstroemeria is dense along with Centaurea, Sweet Cicely and the resident shrubs. Some cutting back will be required there.
Inevitably the gravels both before and aft are in need of attention. The blue tarpaulin we placed over the gravels by the back gate has had no impact on the plants which were beneath. My first task is to pull the long grasses by the front gate for immediate impact. Note to self, some colour is needed at the entrance.
All the priority tasks I take in will happen, and hopefully a few more besides. Upon arrival we received both Daniel and Francois early on Friday evening. Francois brought an invitation to supper chez Poulet. What could be nicer? I pop over on Friday evening to see Anne and give her birthday gifts including the willow dragonfly I bought at Felicity’s Farmshop. She loves it. On Saturday in the middle of the day I visit Manu for a coiffure and he gives me a recipe for an apero. I make it and some Thai green fishcakes for muches muches and we eat with the Poulets chez eux, ‘une jolie cote de boeuf’, cooked on their kitchen bbq and it is simply delicious. This is our France.