Panier of Plenty

March 2013

Welcome to the visual diary for March…

From The Forest

main river

After the rain

After the rain

Fountain flowing again

Fountain flowing again

Monday 11th March. It is now two years since we picked up the keys the
the bergerie and started to move in. Looking back there is a pattern
as we experience another thunderstorm and heavy rain, for the weather
in this period was the same, as the roadside came alive with impromptu
cascades. Now, as the river swells again with another storm, the fountain
which is usually dry is reborn – the forest ‘receiving a good soaking’
to aid spring growth as new leaves and buds form.

Euphorbe's appear

Euphorbes appear

Another variety

Another variety

21st March. The spring equinox. Wildflowers in the grass and forest…

Euphorbe cluster

Euphorbe cluster

In The Garden

Through to the potager...

Through to the potager…

The almond blooming

The almond blooming

Blossoms bring bees

Blossoms bring bees

Bird house

Bird house

Sunday 10th March. This morning was filled with promise as
butterflies, bees and flies all appeared – as if on cue for the
arrival of spring. The almond tree is in full bloom, and lying
in the grass, I discovered tiny blue and pink flowers just
emerging, and a new wave of dandelions. Violets are now abundant
in shady corners and the first little grape hyacinth (muscari)
has popped up by the roadside. Birds are everywhere and as the day
dawns earlier they sound ‘the wake up call’ before the sun pours in
the window.

As the day progressed however, black clouds loomed and we had a
spectacular thunder and lightning display, another reminder that
things can change in a twinkling…

The cabin, or hothouse

The cabin, or hothouse

Beds lie dormant

Beds lie dormant

It’s almost time to prepare the garden beds – they have been mulched
for winter and the potato patch is covered in charcoal, as cow manure
(gathered around the house thanks to the free-roaming nocturnal visitors)
disintegrates with the rain. Many flowers are self-seeding, the
improvement is remarkable after just two years of cultivation, having
started from scratch, as slowly the potager becomes established.

Spring grass

Spring grass

13th March. Unseasonal change…

Potager garden

Potager garden

Almond blossoms

Almond blossoms

21st March. The spring equinox.

The first snowbells

The first snowbells

Daisies dot the lawn

Daisies dot the lawn

Reminder to self: small lawn daisies are pâquerettes, the larger on
bushes, marguerites… I am still learning the names of many flowers
and plants…

Muscari (grape hyacinth)

Muscari (grape hyacinth)

Frédéric has just finished rennovating a trolley that will be used
to transport lunch between the house and garden as we start to dine
under the shady pergola.

The new trolley

The new trolley

Easter 2013. The potager is now beginning to take shape as the rain
abates long enough to start weeding and turning the beds. New structures
in noisetier (hazlenut) will provide a windbreak and shade, and we are
building dry-stone-walls to hold raised beds and extend the existing
rock wall…

Hazlenut fence construction

Hazlenut fence construction

The new bay tree

The new bay tree

Passionfruit vine

Passionfruit vine

Tiny fruit trees blossom

New blossoms

Exploring The Region

Early March. On the plains of Roussillon, the first blossoms are out as
the orchards turn pink in preparation for the peaches and nectarines of
the region…

Easter Weekend. ‘Visitors’ have started to arrive on holiday as the Gite
season begins and sunseekers pour into our departement – there are many
more festivals and concerts as the events calender also expands. In the
mountains of Cerdagne, the snow is melting on the Pyrenean peaks and tiny
alpine flowers are just starting to open. Passing the orchards, the blossoms
have now become leaves and the landscape turns bright green.

At Home

Kitchen perfumed

Kitchen perfumed

Spring colour

Brightening the dining table

Spring offering

Spring offering

Violets from the steps

Violets from the steps

As winter here stretches on, it is so exciting to see the return of
‘colour’ and to then bring it indoors, where the hearth continues
to burn…

The first snowdrops

The first snowdrops

Muscari and violettes

Muscari and violettes

Dandelions

Dandelions

Another variation on this ‘tried and trusted’ recipe… this time
I substituted the ground almonds (125g) for desiccated coconut,
refined in a blender.

Recipe: Gâteau au chocolate

Coconut and chocolate

Coconut and chocolate

Endives are in season – steamed or boiled and then gratinéed
(baked with layers of ham and a bechamel sauce) they are tender
and delicious. The first bundles of asparagus are just arriving
at the market… with ‘fat white spears’ that have been grown under
black plastic or ‘tender green’ to choose from.

The mas, morning

The mas, morning

There is still a good coating of snow on the mountains…

Canigou, 10th March

Canigou, 10th March

13th March. Looking out the bathroom window…

The forest below

The forest below

21st March. The spring equinox. Mina joined us for an apéritif on
the belvédère to watch the sun set behind Canigou, after a beautiful
calm day to mark ‘the official beginning of spring’. Metres of firewood
now line the side of the bergerie, stockpiled and covered until next winter.

View to sunset over Canigou

View to sunset, Canigou

Following the progress

Following the work in progress

The growing woodpile

The growing woodpile

As the month ends and the clocks are advanced, dinner is served much
later – time disappears quickly when gardening. It is a such relief to
be outside again after such a long winter – hope is on the horizon each
time it stops raining…

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