Panier of Plenty

May 2014

Welcome to the visual diary for May…

From The Forest

Mas Reste, view from road below

Mas Reste, view from road below

Broom in flower

Broom in flower

Chestnut trees last to leaf

Chestnut trees last to leaf

The dragon by the road

The ‘dragon’ by the road

Little wild star bulbs

Little wild star bulbs

The driveway

The driveway

Sunday May 4th. High winds (with fierce gusts) have been sweeping the mountain and branches and rocks are scattered on the road… the ‘Tremontane’ always creates an air of tension, but as calm returns there is a palpable sigh… for never has tranquility been more evident, or appreciated.

A calm evening

A calm evening

After rain

After rain, 11th May

Each morning there is a little more light as I drive to the fromagerie. The mountain road is alive with little birds who flit across my path at the very last moment, reminding me to slow down and admire the view: the full moon, the pink morning sky and Canigou with a fresh dusting of snow… and the proliferation of green on every tree.

There are new wildflowers daily – yellow, violet and pink, white rock roses (cistus), lavender clinging to rocks and cascades of tiny mauve stars.

View to the mas and begrerie

View to the mas and begrerie

Mountain road

Mountain road

Chestnut trees line the road

Chestnut trees line the road

Holding the mountain

Holding the mountain

Rock roses

Rock roses

Euphorbe

Euphorbe

Fountain of the Tilleuls

Fountain of the Tilleuls

In The Garden

1st May

1st May

Clematis climbing the pergola

Clematis climbing the pergola

Sage in flower

Sage in flower

Vegetable beds still empty

Vegetable beds still empty

Rock garden, wild lavender

Rock garden, wild lavender

Cistes: rock roses

Cistes: rock roses

Open with the sun

Open with the sun

1st May. The first strawberries are ripening (and slugs have been quick to taste them!) as many of the seeds planted late March and Early April also start to appear as spinach, carrots and parsnips pop up. The artichokes now have flowers forming and I have just planted the second batch of radishes. Salad and cress is ready to pick and this year their is so much colour in the vegetable garden as sage, calendula, snapdragons, clematis and large white daisies join the roses.

Atelier terrace nearly finished

Atelier terrace nearly finished

Sunday 4th. Frantic activity… cleaning, painting; rummaging in cartons that have been sitting in the garage since arriving by ship; clearing my bureau…

Woodfire now installed

Woodfire now installed

Cleaning the windows

Cleaning the windows

Fluorescent colour in the rockery

Fluorescent colour in the rockery

Just open

Just open

Early morning

Early morning

Artichokes, sage and calendula

Artichokes, sage and calendula

11th May, Atelier

11th May, Atelier

Thursday May 15th. Much cheeping is coming from hungry little birds who receive regular titbits from their dedicated parents, as our high stone wall becomes a haven for their nests. I am slowly moving into my atelier and starting to decorate (and finish painting) – happy to install treasures, long-buried in my shipping crates from Australia (nearly three years) and to reassess projects that have yet to be completed.

Atelier, space for a siesta

Atelier, space for a siesta

Starting to fill the shelves

Starting to fill the shelves

It is a busy period in the garden as I prepare seedlings for our annual plant exchange (at our local village square). They were started in the new cold frame and then went into the potting shed and finally, larger pots…

Sage attracting many bees

Sage attracting many bees

Growth after rain

Growth after rain

Sunday May 18th. Weeding and planting this week as the new plants (I came home with an abundance from the exchange) find suitable homes and settle… the rockery that I started along the path at the entrance is filled with surprises – baby yucca, herbs from Spain, little succulents and creepers…

Frédéric is ‘constructing’ again; edifices in bamboo tower to support the tomatoes that are destined to grow to great heights this year (so I shall record their progress). I am recalling how much work has gone into the garden (since we moved in three years ago and found an uncultivated ‘paddock’) – what a transformation! As with all things, it takes time and dedication before results start to be seen and plants adapt to their preferred terrain, and then self-seed. With high winds and sunshine hours, lack of rain and often intense heat, Mediterranean plants are of course best adapted. The vegetables remain a challenge as we manage water resources, introduce wind-breaks and shade… always trying to improve their chances.

Tomato stakes

Tomato stakes

The new 'park'

The new ‘park’

Exploring The Region

This month I have been visiting nearby ‘plans d’eau’ or man-made lakes… passing trout fisherman, looking at restaurant menu’s, watching birds and admiring yellow irises. The events calendar is in full swing with holidays commencing and Célestine has been wine tasting at a local château, browsed book stalls for the fête of St Jordi and been to the cherry producers market as the cerises of Céret come into season…

Another ‘vide grenier’ and a few more treasures…

On The Menu

Sunday 18th May. Formagets (fresh pasteurised goat’s cheese with the texture of a set custard) for Célestine, the first strawberries and tiny salad leaves. Silverbeet (blettes) and radishes. The sureau (elder) trees are in flower and I have just bottled the first batch of syrup.

At Home

Canigou's snow starting to melt

Canigou’s snow starting to melt

Saturday May 3rd, view from the side of the bergerie.

Mina waiting to be fed

Mina waiting to be fed

Bergerie, front steps

Bergerie, front steps

Mas Reste

Mas Reste

Mas Reste, 11th May

Mas Reste, 11th May

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