Thursday, 14 September 2017

Where Did Summer Go? We're Pruning Already.

May's post was all about planting, so it's difficult to believe that we've just returned from France having pruned our field of flowers. Lavender should be pruned every year to keep them compact and to prevent them becoming woody. We used secateurs to remove flower stalks and about a third of this year’s growth, making sure that some green growth remained.
Our lavender, like this one on the left, looks quite spindly, but for their first summer, we're very pleased that 80% survived the brutal heat. We had no choice but to plant and then leave them to the elements for 6 weeks while we came back to our UK jobs. It wasn't ideal but next spring we'll replace the ones that didn't survive.
Here's the same plant after a haircut! Pruning is usually done in late summer after flowering, unless they’re being grown for their oil in which case, they should be cut just after flowering. The down side of this is that you miss their beauty and colour throughout summer. I suppose it’s a bit like the old saying, you can’t have your cake and eat it! (Which always struck me as silly because if I had cake it would definitely be eaten!) It was back-breaking work and for almost a week we were walking around like centenarians. So now our field has been mowed, weeded, cut back and put to bed for the winter. Unfortunately our abundant crop of fruit went unused this season but thankfully our lovely neighbours, both English and French, made use of some of it by picking cherries during summer. I'm looking forward to learning how to make pickles and chutneys. Here are some of the photographs I took around our land this summer. You can click on the recipe titles below.
Blackberry jam recipe.
Grapes. What else but wine!
Apples. Toffee apple upside-down cake recipe.
Plums. Plum chutney recipe.
Walnuts. Walnut cake recipe.
We also have the beginnings of a drive and front wall. We used metal gabions filled with with white stone - robust and heavy enough to hold back built up earth. Next year we'll back-fill behind the cages and plant flowers on top to soften the lines. The driveway runs in front and to the side of our barn but only the base has been laid this year. We're waiting until we've built our new house before we lay the top layer. It definitely looks a lot tidier than the overgrown cacti and weeds that were previously growing there! Now we're back in England waiting for our house to sell and counting down until our big move. I wish I had a crystal ball to see if we will have crossed the channel before Christmas. I've been making some jewellery this afternoon - lavender flowers set in resin. When they've hardened and I've attached them to chains or earring findings, I'll write an extra post about how to make them.


  1. I've just been reading your posts - what a wonderful adventure. I love lavender and I can just imagine the gorgeous scent with so much of it. You have some brilliant ideas. Good luck - I hope you don't have to wait to long to make the big move!

  2. Gosh, it's February and I've just read you lovely comment, Teresa. Thank you so much. Hopefully I'll be posting more frequently now because we've accepted an offer on our house in England.

    France - here we come!

  3. I'm fascinated by your move, Angela, and do hope things are progressing for you. Any updates? Best wishes and good luck!