Saturday, 26 October 2019

Six On Saturday 26/10/2019

What a week! Crazy storms with enough rain to see us through winter, needless to say our lane has been washed away to huge gullies and bedrock AGAIN. The gardens are grateful though, and they’re looking extremely green and lush, it never ceases to amaze me the difference in plants when they get real rain instead of tap water. Missing days at work due to the weather means we’ve spent the rest of the week doing extra hours to play catch-up but the ground is now softer which makes weeding a far easier task.
Anyway, hope your week has been a good one, here’s my Six on Saturday, as always it’s hosted by The Propagator at
Join in and add a link to your #SixOnSaturday

1) My first this week has to be propagating, these are pieces that were broken when a neighbour’s succulent plant was blown from their upstairs window ledge into our garden in the Mistral, luckily the pot didn’t break but there were lots of plant pieces scattered about that I just couldn’t leave, so they were brought inside, dried for a few days then laid on soil, out of the forty broken off pieces twenty seven have so far produced roots, another couple of weeks or so and I’ll pot them up - if there’s one thing I love more than new plants, it’s new plants for free!

2) Sedum Panache - this and numerous other succulents are in pots waiting to be put into the cactus bed at our main work garden, they’ve been hanging around in their pots until the weather cooled down to be planted, thankfully temperatures are sticking around 22°c -24°c now so it’s ideal for getting them in, this one is flowering at the moment and is so pretty, I adore the flowers on cactus and succulents, always such a contrast to how they usually look.

3) Yucca - talking of flowering, it’s that time of year when the yuccas in our area are all in full bloom and boy do they put on a striking display! So big and bold yet the individual flowers look so delicate. They most definitely aren’t delicate though as they’ve survived the crazy storms and Mistral winds this week with minimal damage, just the odd spike can be seen bending over where the wind was a little too strong for it. These ones are just outside our garden next to our car parking area, I snapped the photo in between downpours at the start of the week.

4) Magnolia seed pods - Oh boy do I love these, they’re simply stunning, last year was the first time I’d ever noticed them, amazing that I managed to get to my mid 50s without doing so, they look like Christmas decorations (apologies for using the ‘c’ word in October).

5) New plants - even though plants here are far more expensive than they are back in England, sometimes you just can’t resist. This week I bought a eucalyptus for my garden along with another citrus, this one is a clementine - I will never have enough citrus trees. 
I love eucalyptus and even though I’ve spent years growing plants for health and well being purposes, as well as for culinary use I have never owned a eucalyptus, no idea why as they’re extremely useful, not to mention lovely to look at. 
I also bought numerous houseplants this week to add to the indoor jungle, the OH is convinced we’ll soon have parrots moving in! 

6) Tools - more new tools this week, this time secateurs and snips that are just the right size for my hands. I have several pairs of secateurs but all are a bit too big for me to use comfortably, these are the perfect fit, you can see the difference in size in the photo.
As much as I love them though the secateurs have a loose closing clip which slips when I’m using them and stops the blades from closing together, it’s ok if I’m using them upright but if they’re facing sideways or down when in use then it prevents me cutting and is very annoying so I might be taking them back to get them changed, not what I expect from Spear & Jackson ☹️

Well I hope you enjoyed my #SixOnSaturday, there’ll be another six next week but until then, have a great week.


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

It’s Soup Night!

Roast Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup
Rich, creamy and filling, perfect for an autumn night! 
This delicious soup was inspired by a juice I had years ago from a small Indian takeaway deli in London, whilst I was doing a shoe making course.The mix of carrot, orange and fresh ginger root was addictive, and using home grown squash with the carrot ticks so many boxes on the "yumminess" scale!  This soup gets a huge thumbs up from everyone in our house.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Six on Saturday 12/10/2019

Six on Saturday 12/10/2019

I’m not sure where this week has gone, it’s been one of those weeks where Monday felt like Friday but Friday felt like Tuesday, and here we are at the end of Saturday and I have no idea how! 

Here’s my Six on Saturday and the link to The Propagator blog, the host of Six on Saturday.

1) Sternbergia lutea, these little rays of sunshine have been brightening up the field next to our house for the last couple of weeks or so, they almost scream out to be admired.

2) I have a new pitch fork! Spent a nightmare day this week trying to turn compost bins with a pitch fork that didn’t want to stay together, an old style fork where the end had a long stump that just pushed into the wooden handle and was supposedly held in place by a metal sleeve. Needless to say the air was filled with a few choice words so it was time to get a new one that would lift the composting material without falling off.

3) More new tools, this time tiny tools, these are no taller than my sunglasses are wide and I just couldn’t resist them, perfect for small house plants - or just to admire for their cuteness.

4) This beauty is just starting to flower, once it’s in full bloom it’s amazing, last year the client missed it but this year they’ll be here to enjoy it. 

5) This is not exactly garden but it’s garden related as most of the fruit in my home made muesli is home grown and dried, and even more will be next year. There’s something extremely satisfying about being able to preserve your home grown goodies for out of season use.

6) This job has been on my to do list at work for several months, I finally got it done this week, I really dislike weed suppressant matting under gravel, it seems to me to be a futile exercise laying it when so many weed seeds are dropped by birds or blown onto it by the wind, then the weeds grow down through the matting into the soil, this just serves to make weeding it harder so I prefer to have nothing under the gravel to make weeding it easier. Thoroughly satisfying seeing the pile of horrible stuff head to the poubelle.

Six on Saturday 05/10/2019

Six on Saturday 05/10/2019

So another week has gone by in a flash, it’s still hot but slightly cooler with temperatures hovering in the mid to high 20s, it’d be nicer if the temperature was down to around 22°c/23°c as it’s much easier to work in. It seems that we’re never satisfied with the weather we get! Having said all that a week of sub zero would be gladly accepted at the moment just to get rid of the mosquitoes, they seem to multiply by the day both at home and in the work gardens, we all look like we have chicken pox with the number of bites we have! 
Enough of the mozzie moaning, on with my Six on Saturday, as always you can leave a comment or join in here and where it all began at:

Enjoy your weekend.

1) A visitor to the garden who thought sunbathing in the middle of the terrace was a smart idea! He wouldn’t have lasted long with our clodhopping heap of a German Shepherd charging around so after having his photo shoot I moved him to the safety of a flower box.

2) Dahlias, no idea what types I have as all the labels for mine and clients’ went astray in part down to the eldest fraggle when watering but also thanks to the Mistral, all the dahlias in mine and the work gardens have been late to flower but now they’re covered in buds, just as well our good weather lasts for some time yet.

3) Lawn invader! In one of the work gardens where we cut the lawn at least once weekly, often twice, this suddenly appeared approx 7 feet from a flower bed in the middle of the lawn and managed to put this much growth on in under a week (top picture), I dug it out and stuck it in a pot, the bottom is the result three weeks on. Not sure where it came from or if it’ll flower but I had to at least give it a chance.

4) This lot is still blooming like crazy on my terrace, they’ve been in full flower for several months and show no sign of letting up, sheer joy! 

5) This was a stowaway several months ago in one of over a hundred new agapanthus plants I bought for one of the work gardens, it was a tiny little shoot but as I have an innate need to give every plant a chance I popped it into one of my handy dog food trays that I save for small cuttings and seeds with some compost and stuck it on the nursery shelving to see how it would get on, fast forward a few months and it was producing lots and lots of babies! The new babies are now sitting on a cactus/succulent mix in dog food trays so they can gain weight before being transferred into real pots. I don’t know what it is, other than it’s a succulent of some kind.

6) Figs glorious figs, fresh, dried and frozen…
This year has been a brilliant year for figs, I’ve picked and dried at least 10 kilos from various trees, also eaten some fresh or used in cooking, the parcels in the photograph were filled with goat's cheese, onion, figs and local thyme honey. A few have been frozen but freezer space is scarce so I prefer drying, especially as we use so much dried fruit in muesli making. Still some ripening but not as quickly as last month.

That’s my six for the week, looking forward to some time to read what others have had in their gardens this week.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Six on Saturday 28/09/2019

Six on Saturday - 28/09/2019

Since my last Six on Saturday post there has been a huge change (and loss) in the Dizzy house, my beautiful daughter and her OH who have been staying with us for a couple of months since all their belongings headed north back to England finally followed said belongings, taking with them the crazy granddogs and “bump” our future granddaughter who is due in mid December. It’s suddenly very quiet and to say I’m missing them is a huge understatement!
Other than that, the days are much the same, it’s still scorching hot and the gardens are still desperate for their waterings but we have fruits ripening (and being eaten by various bugs), flowers still blooming and a hope that it’ll soon cool down a little as the nights are drawing in and it’s dark by 20.00hrs now.
Anyway, here are my six for this week and if you want to join in pop over to
see what others are posting and contribute yourself, you can also comment and leave a link here.
Hope you enjoy mine this week!

1. A friend in the garden: I startled this poor little guy whilst watering dahlias in pots at work, he jumped from the pot onto my chest, ran down my arm and came to a halt on my hand where he was happy to just sit. My no.2 fraggle is bug and animal mad and was desperate to have him/her on his hand, Monsieur Gecko seemed happy to oblige.
2. Someone is having a feast on this rose! This rose is hidden amongst the agapanthus in one of our work gardens so it tends to get overlooked, but I noticed it had a case of blackspot on it, I took my neem oil in so I could make up a spray only to find that there wasn’t much in the way of leaves left as they had been eaten. I have no idea what’s eating it there aren’t any bugs visible, a gardening friend on Twitter suggested leaf cutter bees, he has a similar nibble pattern on his roses and was lucky enough to get video evidence, but the lack of a visible culprit here is frustrating.

3. Talking of bugs, I don’t mind sharing my fruit, veg. and flowers with the bugs, just as long as they play nice and actually let me enjoy some of the fruits of my labour (pun intended). This year is not one of those where the bugs are playing nice, both the peaches in a client’s garden and the peaches in my garden have been completely ruined and not one has been edible. It makes me so cross, especially after I went to so much effort to successfully prevent peach leaf curl this year, next year I’ll have to think of a bird friendly way of protecting the fruit after pollination; pesticides are a no-no as I garden organically.

4. Campsis Grandiflora (Chinese trumpet vine), Not the best picture but I love this plant and see it everywhere here, I think this one in a client’s garden has been cut back a bit harshly as it was a bare twig when we took the garden on 12 months ago and has struggled to put on any growth, it’s now shooting well and has flowered (sort of) but it needs to be fed, sadly I can’t get to the base of it to feed it as it’s coming up through a wood/iron walkway and I don’t know exactly where under the walkway it is!

5. Ripening fruits, I absolutely love watching the progress of fruit ripening! Pictured are a few of the things currently ripening; limes (other citrus we have are lemons, clementines, oranges and grapefruits, along with a few kumquats as we’ve not long since finished picking those), pomegranates and figs. Lots of the figs have ripened but there are still loads coming.

6. Visitors, these little guys were in my plant pot storage spot under a table in the garden but clearly thought being inside with us (me, my OH, 2 grown up and very noisy fraggles, our very large German Shepherd, my daughter and her OH along with their collie and Rhodesian ridgeback X) and all our noise was a better option. Three dogs and not one showed any inclination to chase or catch them even when they trotted across the floor in broad daylight! 
It took several days of them getting the food I left in the little traps without getting shut in before I finally wedged cheddar at the top of the clip so they had to pull to get any. The first little chap we caught on his own on Saturday night and I stuck bedding, food and water in with him as I knew we weren’t going to the woods where I planned to let him go until Monday morning, I chatted to him when I was in the kitchen and he took food from me quite happily (confirming the OH’s hunch that I am in fact bonkers). On Sunday night the other trap I’d set went off whilst we were watching TV and the other two had gone in together! They too were given bedding, food and water for the night then on Monday morning we took them a few miles away and let them out in the woods so they could find new shelter during daylight hours. I was quite sad to see them go off but on the other hand glad not to have them running riot around the house going through my cupboards. Letting them go some distance away ensured they wouldn’t find their way back. 

Six on Saturday

Six on Saturday 25/08/2019

Aug 25, 2019
So Saturday is here (and almost gone) again, it’s doubtful this will publish before midnight so it’s more a Sunday six. The rules are simple to Six on Saturday, it must be six things in or about a garden, maybe your own, maybe a garden you work in or have visited. That’s it, simple! If in doubt the man who wrote the rules explains them here but I seriously doubt he’ll hunt anyone down for a breach of said rules. 
I am so, so glad that August is nearly over, it’s a horrible month to be living in the “Golfe de St Tropez” thanks to A) the searing heat and B) the obnoxious, rude and ignorant tourists who flock here during the French holiday month. Anyone with half an ounce of sense leaves for August, but that’s not possible when you have to work and don’t have the luxury of being able to take a month off. Tourists during the rest of the year are a pretty ok bunch and don’t come under the obnoxious umbrella. 
So here’s to September, slightly cooler weather and politer tourists. 🥂🍻
No 1 - Blue (work).
Blue adds a lovely coolness to the garden in the searing August heat, the Agapanthus are almost gone to seed now but there are still a few dotted around the big garden we care for daily, the Perovskia (Russian sage) is in full bloom and stunning at the moment but it’s one of those plants that looks amazing for a few short weeks then looks extremely messy for the rest of the year, it’s hard trying to refrain from cutting it right back immediately after the flowers are gone. The plumbago is the absolute star of the show at the moment and I love it, the frothy flowers look beautiful against the more rigid shapes of the topiary balls and cypress trees around the garden, and it flowers for ages.
No 2 - Green (work).
Lush green is not the colour of August here in the south of France, but the garden we care for daily is looking very green at the moment which is something to smile about. Some parts of the garden it August green splendour. 
 No 3 - Pink (work).
Ipomee, this lovely delicate pink turns to a beautiful lilac when the flowers mature. It’s hard to believe I nurture this yet it’s close sister, the dreaded bindweed gets ripped up and cursed for growing so profusely and strangling everything in sight at the other side of the house.
 No 4 - Orange & Yellow (home).
This Alstroemeria has been in full flower since June and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. That’s nothing compared to the Calendula which I brought over from England six years ago as a single flower in a pot from my garden, that one flower has self seeded and has produced flowers through summer and winter ever since, even in the snow, I also have plants all around my garden and a huge tub of seeds, now that’s good value. The Helianthus are my smiley flowers, they always make me smile, even though this year they aren’t the giants I usually grow, these ones are barely as tall as me.
 No 5 - Magenta (home).
The perfume from this Mirabilis Jalapa in the evening is wonderful, it sits next to our door, at the top of the steps to our garden under a huge bougainvillea and envelopes you when you come through the gate. I love how the flowers last for a single night then drop to be replaced by new flowers the next evening, and this goes on all through the summer. Absolute magic and with zero effort on my part!
 No 6 - Purple (work).
Polygala Myrtifolia, from stunning to dead with no apparent reason. If I didn’t know better i’d Say it had been treated with weed killer but we garden organically so not likely, and although they were there when the owner bought the house I don’t think they’re old enough to die of old age, even though they live a relatively short life compared to other shrubs. Who knows, at least i’ve Been able to take cuttings from the healthy ones still growing in the garden which will hopefully take and replace the dead ones. Gardening can be so frustrating at times.

Don’t forget to check out this week’s Six on Saturday from ‘The Propagator’ over here -

Six on Saturday 27/07/2019
Jul 27, 2019
So, after a very long time I’m blogging again, I still have zero time to spare but if I have to sit up until silly o’clock, then so be it!
For my first post in a few years I’m sharing something I enjoy on twitter, “Six on Saturday”, although the blogger who started it will tell you I’m very rarely, if ever, on time! I do sometimes manage to get my six posted on a Saturday though, just 🤣
My Six on Saturday this week is dominated by the weather, believe it or not the French are more weather obsessed than the Brits. In this part of France the weather is always extreme, extreme heat, extreme rain and flooding, and of course extreme wind (the infamous Mistral). I suppose the only thing we don’t get the extreme side of is frost and snow, not unless you head for the alps. We get a little frost and/or snow around January, but it isn’t guaranteed.
 Anyway, on with the six! 
If you want to join in with Six on Saturday, pop over to
have a read and join in. You can also join in on Twitter or Facebook, just use the hashtag #SixOnSaturday 😊 
Sunrise at work - it’s been extremely hot here this week and working in the garden all day in full sun is a no-no, our way around this is to start work before the sun comes up and watch it rise whilst working. It’s beautiful and being outside in the gardens at that time of day confirms that it’s the best time of day, but unfortunately I’m not a morning person any more so it’s been a bit of a killer! 
Our daily view after work, the view is from the top of the village looking down with the “Golfe de Saint Tropez” on the left, Sainte Maxime is on the other side of the bay with the Alps way off in the distance. it’s a stunning view and never gets tired.
This is how our sky usually looks, it’s this colour for most of the year and the reason this place is so special, the flowers are a few that are coping with the extreme heat; roses, two with names unknown as they were insitu. when we took over the running of the garden, the other is Pierre de Ronsard which is one we have many of, I added half a dozen more this year as they’re beautiful and heat tolerant. The others are perovskia and lavandula, both happy in the heat with a little water.
Another village, another garden and another view! My OH and my boys on pool and grass duty, it’s difficult keeping the grass healthy when you're fighting blazing sun, searing heat, chlorinated water and garden furniture patches but for the most part we manage.
The sky this morning! Oh my, not your typical day in July and a tell-tale sign of what was to come, at this point the temperature had dropped to 30°c and it was looking promising that it would cool further and I wouldn’t be watering my garden in the evening.
Well the temperature dropped! All the way down to 19°c, we haven’t had temperatures that low in quite some time, not even at night, but it was most welcome. The plants are watered and the air is fresher for a few hours, the one good thing about living here is knowing that even with storms all day our usual blue skies will be back within a 24 hrs or so. 😍