We’re working on spring, here.

It’s March. March is always up and down, in terms of weather. Warm, cold, rain, wind, sun, something else, as long as it’s different. But this year we have had a warm winter, so it looks like genuine spring could pop out at any time.

This time of year I usually post a photo of daffodils. They’re doing fine, as are the crocuses and snowdrops. but the new interesting things are the magnolia stellata trees that I planted last spring. See above. They are out there flowering like crazy. No leaves have popped out, there or anywhere I planted something deciduous. The ground cover hasn’t yet filled in. So they are out there doing their best to give me hope for the future of my otherwise drab garden. For this I am most grateful.

I found them in a Dorling Kindersley book, “What Plant Where.” So I put them on a list and headed off to Ripaud, my favorite garden center, where the guy in charge totally knows his stuff. He loves them and they were in stock so, why not. And they are great, so far much more rewarding than anything other new thing.

Apart from being pleased that something actually works, I’m planning a couple of next phases. I’ve been feeding birds. I like the birds, though I’m not yet sure how to square that with their insatiable appetite for my cherries. When it starts to pull together I’ll show you what I have in mind for a little bird sanctuary, a sheltered area not now used at all. It will have nests and a shallow fountain, insect hotels, whatever I can think of that will feed the little guys and generally make them happy.

Also my owl buffet, the wild area you may have seen behind my kitchen garden, is getting an upgrade. It will still be pretty wild, but I’m continuing my war with the more noxious weeds and adding easy/no care perennials that should attract butterflies and all. With any luck the birds will pig out on bugs and leave my fruit alone.

The two fountains I have planned will, I hope, save the owls. Last year, during the heat waves, I think a lot of them died. I’m only now starting to hear them again, and only once in a while.

Last year my chimneys were rebuilt, partly because crows had knocked out a few bricks and had this multi-layered nesting system going, like a crow apartment building. This year the crows came back. No apartments yet, but I do think there is a nest in at least one of the chimney pots. This means bird shit on the skylight just above my bed but on balance, I like having them there. And at night when the stars are out, I can look around the poo. The stars are still there.

Last year my cherries were invaded by worms. It was nasty. This year I’ll spray. I got a few organic things — bacillus thuringensis, neem oil, that kind of thing — that I hope will kill the little buggers. I have a promise of fruit out there — apples, pears, almonds, maybe a couple of other things. This year I’d like to share less, keep more for myself.

The same is true of the kitchen garden, where I plan to plant peas with everything, to fix nitrogen in the soil. After a few years of layers of cardboard, compost, imported soil and all, we have possibly buried the rocks that are everywhere out there. The rocks will still find their way to the surface, but I hope they won’t give us too much trouble. Plus, don’t hate me, I’m going to go off the organic piste a bit, just in the kitchen garden. I got some Miracle Gro. With that and the seaweed fertilizer that should be delivered tomorrow, I’m hoping for a bumper crop. Last year’s San Marzanos are simmering on my stove right now. They smell terrific. I want more as do, I’m sure, Julien and his family.

That’s my story. I’ll update you and even include a photo or two of Jacques when things leaf out.

9 thoughts on “We’re working on spring, here.

  1. Magnolia stellata is a beautiful variety. I love the magnolias – have a big hedge of red rose-type magnolias between my house and the road in Brittany, and hoping to get there SOON to see them before they finish flowering. Your garden is coming along – gardeners have to be patient!!


    1. Too true. Often we have a day or two of frost in April. It can mean we lose fruit tree blossoms. This year, with the warm winter, I gambled that we’d be okay and fertilized the roses and all. Just a little, as they looked a bit sad. We’ll see how it goes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve got me almost as enthused as you are by the projects. I really miss making a garden…here is just a tropical mess which about suits my level of activity now – but we have planted stuff round the house and on the finca to keep birds happy……
    Your owl buffet and bird sanctuary sound super…love to see photographs when things are underway.
    Our neighbour in France had a superb cherry tree which only flowered every other year. He was under orders from his wife to keep the birds off so that she could preserve the fruit in eau de vie. He took every precaution…CD disks on strings, a radio playing in the branches…even a cage of guinea fowl beside the trunk.
    You’ve guessed it…he went out to a meeting, the birds descended and ate the lot.
    He was in the dog house for some time….


    1. They like cherries. Sadly, the only things I know of that keep the birds away are the worms. They rot the cherries so quickly that nobody wants them. I do have CDs on strings in the potager but on a tree, I’m not sure they’d be sufficiently visible to do much good. Maybe he should have had his wife keep those birds away. She sounds like a terror.

      Your balcony looks pretty nice, Helen. If I lived there, I think I’d let it go at that, too.


      1. His wife was indeed a holy terror….in his place I would have missed the meeting.
        I would have liked to do a bit of landscaping when the house was being built but the funds did not run to that and now I can’t raise the energy.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Here it’s bird central. I often joke they say the number of birds is decreasing in France because they’re all here. Every other bush is a blackbird colony. Finches everywhere. There are turtle doves that take up residence at the top of the dining room’s chimney every year so when you enter you hear their noises amplified by the chimney. Careful what you wish for 🙂


    1. It’s warmer, where you are. When the weather got stormy, my warblers and all vanished. Maybe they went to your house.

      Maybe those are blackbirds nesting in my chimney. I’m not very good at identifying non-California birds. Anyway they are there and have been since I bought the house. Luckily for them, all my chimneys are blocked, so they won’t be smoked out. They wake me up every morning with their bickering, which I like. I’m even getting used to having them toss things onto the skylight.

      The skylight — I have several, but the one over my bed is the most entertaining — is my connection to the cosmos. Birds, wind, rain, the sun, moon and stars: they are all up there. I really enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

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