Garden Report

Apart from the weeds, it’s a nice time of year. Everything is actually growing, maybe because we have had so much rain. Julien is making a mighty effort to keep the weeds out of the ground cover but to be fair, he clears a patch and a week later, the weeds are back. Little by little, though, I think we are beating them back.

We have roses. I actually did a winter prune this year and guess what? The rose bushes love being pruned. Who knew? And I threw some bone meal at them and a bit of fungicide, when things got a bit rusty. The grass loves all this good stuff, too, but just maybe we are turning the corner on the weeds in the roses. I know, it’s hard to tell in this photo, but yesterday things were a whole lot worse. Now it’s kind of jumbled in the rose patch, but the bees are happy with all that borage, the grass is diminishing, lavender and verveine are moving in. The roses should be okay.

I’m happy with the espaliers, three apples and two pears, I think. Surely there will be no fruit this year, but the trees are healthy. Julien is looking forward to pruning them next year. We’ll see how that goes. For now it’s nice to not have bare walls.

I have grapes! The vines have looked dubious in the past, but this year they are doing great. The planters are set to become shallow pools for the birds, something we’ll do when the bulbs die back. we’ll clear out the dirt and fill the troughs with rocks so the birds have a place to perch.

Right now the birds have staked out the yew tree. I am bribing them shamelessly with fat balls and bird seed. The next garden report will have more about this. And for now, that’s about it.

18 thoughts on “Garden Report

    1. Thanks so much. Wait until you see the potager. Julien says the seedlings are doing well. Last year my kitchen garden fed three families, well, helped out, so now we’re motivated to do even better. I still remember leaving a note for the cleaning lady, that I would be gone and she could help herself to the tomatoes. She picked the plants clean. I forget that my hobby can, for some people, make a big difference.


  1. WOW!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE the planting in the front garden. What plant is that with the little white flowers? The espaliers too look amazing, we’ve done a lemon and lime and they work beautifully. You might already know about them but if not there’s a bougainvillaea called Violet de Mèze which can survive winters here with a bit of mulching and looks amazing on stone walls. A real blast of colour for months on end 🙂


    1. Thanks! The ground cover is candytuft, iberis sempervirens. It will grow to 15-20 cm in height, I think, and spread farther than that. At the nursery we were advised to plant 3 per square meter, but I wanted to stamp out the weeds fast, so we went with 6 per square meter. As it is, the weeds are more than Julien can handle and I’m focusing on the riot scene that passes for a rose bed, so I don’t regret the decision. The books say candytuft flowers in May and June, but mine has flowered nonstop since Julien planted it last fall. At first it looked like my garden had a skin disease — all these pops of white in medium-brown dirt — but now that it is starting to fill in, it looks more pleasing, more like a carpet. It looks to be pretty tough and is said to do well with little water. We haven’t done any supplemental watering, but we’ve had a fairly steady supply of rain, so I don’t know about that yet.

      Off in a back corner I planted erigeron, the white-flowered thing you see growing out of cracks in walls and sidewalks. It is incredibly tough. We planted it last year, just before summer. Big mistake, but it made it through despite a fair amount of neglect. It, too, is low-growing, more sprawling than the candytuft and less splashy. In less than a year it has pretty much filled in its area.

      Citrus espaliers are a great idea. Our winters are long and gray, so folks are encouraged to bring them into the house, as the blossoms smell incredible. I think the heated floor, or maybe too much water, nearly did in my lemon. Next winter I’ll be going old-school, with the summer kitchen as a makeshift orangerie. Not long ago I picked up a cara cara orange, which looks as though it will fall into the “can’t kill it” category, so perfect for me. They are said to be frost resistant. If our espalier-training skills pull together I might try with one of those. And I’ll try that bougainvillea. They grow everywhere in Southern California and I miss them. Trained up a wall or into a tree, they are fabulous.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, not right away. One section of the garden has mulch between the plants. No weeds to speak of, so full marks for the mulch, but the candytuft seems to be having a hard time spreading. Another section, the one with the erigeron, is more shaded. Not many weeds there, either; I think the candytuft — the stuff in this section arrived in tiny containers — could use a fertilizer boost. The two big sections have weeds duking it out with the well-fed candytuft and with Julien and his weeding implements. I can’t be sure, as I don’t know how Julien prioritizes his weeding, but I think that as the candytuft spreads, it shades the weed seeds and they don’t grow. I am cautiously optimistic.

          We had some of the little guys left over, so Julien put them directly under the roses, which get fed pretty well — bone meal, mainly. They are doing great, so clearly candytuft does as well in shade as in sun.

          I’ll probably do a summer update, so you can see how it goes. You won’t want to plant until fall, anyway. Probably the other thing I’ll be looking at is a liquid fertilizer made from seaweed. I’ll be putting it everywhere. I hadn’t been prioritizing the kitchen garden, as I had thought of it as just feeding me; yield wasn’t a big deal. Now that I’m feeding Julien and Emily, my sainted cleaning lady, too — probably a dozen people altogether — I want to step things up a bit.


  2. All your hard work and perseverance is beginning to pay off – the garden looks fantastic. I love your roses, and the espalier tress are going to give so much pleasure. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I admit to cheating a bit, waiting for a few leaves and flowers before I did this post. But yes, at least the area in front of the house is pulling together. I love the way chateaux and maisons bourgeoises just rise out of the grass, the way they do here. Unfortunately my house was rising out of gravel and burr-filled weeds, so I had to do something.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic job! Congratulation to all! Amazing to watch your progress over the last couple of years. Just beautiful! I need to visit! Hugs from Santa Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what a wonderful garden!! I love erigeron, it’s sowing itself everywhere in my courtyard. Look forward to hearing about the weed smothering properties of the candytuft -I have a creeping thyme which has done a great job, but that flowers only once in spring…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The garden guy says it works great. We’ll see. Erigeron is fast and I think it stays pretty green with hardly any care. I’m a fan for sure. The candytuft is putting out runners, like strawberries. We’ll see how they do by fall, which is when they will have been in place for a year. I have creeping thyme in mind for bee-friendly places. The bees are all over the borage, which does my heart good. Creeping thyme will be a great addition for them, as will the super-shallow portions of my troughs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right now I have borage, thyme (regular as well as creeping), rosemary and sage flowering in my garden – the buzzing of all the different kinds of insects is just wonderful to watch and listen to!


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