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Storms and Peaches

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

After a long night of trundling, cascading thunder and whip-crack lightening setting fire to the sky, the rain is finally here. We’ve had parched days, humid and intense, everything meditating and waiting for the rain. And here it is. Suddenly there is nothing but rain. Overflowing gutters, waterfalls and rivers, the welcome non-stop deluge. From the woods, a baby deer runs out onto the lawn, charging up and down, dancing. Perhaps it’s never seen rain before, or it’s just full of joy at it all.

In this part of France, the plant life gets used to drought, holding its breath for the rain, and when it comes, there’s a month’s growth in a day and the pale yellows turn to deep sea greens, the nettles quickly flower while they can, and the Wisteria becomes luminous.

We’ve been joined by a family of bumble bees this summer, nesting above the terrace, they bounce around with their gentle hum, gliding off, then veering back, overloaded with pollen.

In April, I planted some variegated dogwood by the river, in amongst the Buddleia and Hydrangea. If it pulls through, it will punctuate that part of the bank near the sluice. We arrived back in July to find the expected brambles, grass and bindweed had, of course, taken over. With some careful investigation with sheers and secateurs, like an archaeologist uncovering delicate bones, I found some of the dogwood still alive, threadbare and exhausted, but alive. I hope its roots will be down, I have cleared it enough space to survive. One of the joys of returning is the discovery of how the gardens have changed, what has survived and what has given up.

Those following this blog will know the journey with the willows along the banks of the leet. I planted them from stems a few years ago and half of them have grown sturdy and ready to be pollarded. I did this back in Autumn.

They looked rather sad and decapitated, but now are back in full lollipop glory, so it looks as though the plan to replace the fallen poplars with something more manageable and neat, is going to work. Poplars are not natural riverside trees. They were planted for wood and should be harvested after ten to fifteen years. The poplars we have left are huge and probably thirty years old. The willows are a more natural replacement.

The best news is, that after a twelve year journey, the peach tree up at the sawmill has peaches! We originally planted it down on the flood plane field, but the earth was too dark and damp there, so we moved it up to the sawmill which is the opposite. After a shaky start, and with a few of its fellow trees succumbing to drought, the peach survived. Five years after the move, we have dozens of gorgeous peaches! They are glorious. I hope they ripen during our summer stay, if not, then the next guests will have a treat!

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