Left behind in the house were a couple of black and white photographs taken from the air, probably in the fifties by the looks of a couple of cars.
It’s fantastic to see how the place used to be . Half of what is now termed by the former owners as the ‘le près’ (the field) used to be vines, with what looks like a still existing sour cherry tree in the middle. Elsewhere some large trees and bushes have since been removed, and at neighbour’s gardens which were largely bare then, the area is now completely overgrown.
One can also see that the although the roofs were in good condition then and didn’t have the sagging that now appears, they still had marks of age on the tiles. No wonder they’re in such a state now.
I playfully asked H about whether he’d like to plant some vines back into the garden/field, make some Chateau de Chez Nous, but it’s a non-starter. Aside from the work and the time it would take before the grapes would be of any use; ‘The way to make a fortune in wine is to start with two,’ he says. I didn’t really want my future garden turned over to grapes anyway, it just sounds so romantic.
We do have a chardonnay vine growing up the side of a building – and we don’t even look after that. Although I have planted a few more flowering plants and hope to add some more trees and bushes, we’re both the sort of gardeners that have no place in our borders for a plant that requires a lot of attention – if it can’t survive in the soil and weather conditions that we have, then it shouldn’t be there. A sort of Darwinism of plants. In other words, we’re lazy gardeners.
When it’s sunny I’ve learned to cut some of the roses almost as soon as they’re in flower as they tend to burn under the rays before they fully bloom. Which is a shame for the garden appearance but does provide a splash of life inside the house.
The près is very pretty with cornflowers and other natural wild plants, attracting lots of butterflies, even if most of them are only the white cabbage type. A neighbour had an arrangement to cut it all in a few weeks for hay, so we’re honouring that.
Around the edges and other parts of the property which are more formally gardened, I have been weeding and it is a highly frequent task, especially with perfect growing weather of sun followed by rain followed by sun. But it can also be a happy chore if done when it is nice weather: I no longer like to spend a long time simply sunning myself, I prefer to have a purpose.
However, the search is on for bedding plants that are relevant to the area but don’t mind a bit of drought and sun, and can cover between all the main flowering plants to discourage weeds.
Anyone have any suggestions?
Back to the photo, on the other hand, it was sad to see a moment of the property’s past and learn a little of it’s history. It had been quite a property in its day, and the family were important, but new generations took over and through mismanagement and mental health problems it all declined.
To finish on a positive note though, that did allow us to buy the place.