Getting the Garden Back in Trim


Orchids to mow around
Orchids grow abundantly on our lawn and have to be mown around carefully

What a lovely time of year this is when the weather is fine! At last, after months of gloom and damp, the past few days have been not just spring like, but summery. It’s forecast to continue for the rest of the week. It can go from freezing cold to blisteringly hot in the blink of an eye here. Yesterday we were in shorts and shirtsleeves – inconceivable last week. This can mean only one thing: time to get the garden back on track.

Our garden, which is quite big but not especially well cultivated, has been sorely neglected since last November. We had set aside all sorts of tasks to carry out on nice days over the winter. The problem was that there weren’t any nice days, which is unusual. So those tasks remained undone.

The dead plum trees in the hedgerow that the wind had brought down are still there. The area from which we removed some tatty hazel trees, and which I had planned to plant up, became home to some Triffid-like weeds over the winter. Thanks to the persistent rain, the lawns were starting to resemble Douanier Rousseau’s paintings where the tiger is only just visible in the foliage.

Dry gardening - sage 2 compressed
Drought-loving sage doesn’t seem to have minded the soggy winter

Of course, the resumption of gardening is not always plain sailing. Why is it that the garden tools you put away for the winter in perfect order in November don’t work in April when you take them out again? Full of optimism one fine afternoon, I climbed onto our tractor mower and turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Flat battery, which took two days to recharge.

Similarly optimistic, the SF got out the strimmer, with a view to taming the savannah-like edges of the garden. All went well for a while, until the cutting string ran out. Whoever designed this system has obviously never had to use it. You have to wind the cord, which is like an unruly snake, around a bobbin-like unit, and then poke the two ends out through minuscule holes while trying to ensure that it doesn’t all unwind in the process. Having achieved this, after several false starts, the strimmer motor decided that it had had enough and conked out altogether.

A trip to the garden supplies store Pole Vert in Villefranche-de-Rouergue, 20 km distant, relieved us of rather a lot of euros to buy a replacement strimmer. When we first moved here, I had no idea of the number of tools we would need to keep a country garden in check. We are now the proud owners of a tractor mower, a motor mower, a strimmer, a débroussailleuse (brush cutter), a chainsaw, another chainsaw on a pole for cutting high branches, two wheelbarrows, a long extendable ladder, two other ladders, countless garden hand tools, and a host of other paraphernalia.

Geraniums ready to go

Am I complaining? Pas du tout. It has been wonderful to get out into the garden over the past few days and see it all come back to life. The geraniums are planted, the lawns mown, the stone steps cleared of moss, the weeded areas are ready for planting and the last of the leaves are raked away. The smell of cut grass and rising sap is delightful. The sight of the buds bursting on the trees into a lovely spring green is heartening after the winter grey. Best of all, the blackbird that serenades us from dawn until dusk in our little wood is a sign of spring that we look forward to for the rest of the year. And the cuckoos are back in earnest, having been sparse for the past few years.

So, if I have been a little absent from the blog for a while, I have an excuse. And it takes one’s mind off all the other things going on in the world to experience Nature coming back to life.

Spring 005 - Live Hypericum
Hypericum forcing itself through any crack it can find. Not my favourite plant, but it covers an unsightly terrace chez nous

You might also like:

How to Garden in France: Which Plants do Well?
Dry Gardening
Glorious French Gardens
Monet’s Garden at Giverny

Copyright © 2018 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. So wonderful to read about the burgeoning garden – I think the moment when one is able to get outside and tend whatever size of patch or acreage one has is magical every year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • We took full advantage of the truce in the weather, which lasted for about 9 days, to get around and do everything we had planned to do over the winter – plus everything that needs doing in the spring! Now, it has reverted to type, but this is not uncommon in May. It is good to get back in the garden again and to see things grow.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. the winter has been long and at times awful, but spring is so lush here this year – because of all the rain!! I’m having to do a lot of tidying up in the garden, also because of the rain, but at least the weeds come out very easily!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love growing herbs and , generally, they do well here. The exceptions are parsley and dill, which may need more water than we get in summer. We had plenty of it over the winter! I think the UK is having similar weather to ours right now. Well deserved, since I think it’s been even grimmer than in France.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The weather is gloriuos,isn’t it. We too have been gardening and painting, both shutters and railings. The cuckoo has made an appearance here too, in the gorge, but i have not yet heard any tawny owls, although i have heard a long eared owl.
    I read the article in Quercy local, and have just bought your ’12 Short Stories”

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is wonderful. We are outside from dawn until almost dusk, but I have to say I feel it the next morning when I wake up! Painting shutters and railings is hard work, so bon courage.

      Thank you so much for buying my book. I hope you enjoy it.


  4. I can relate to that
    When we bought our house a martin had taken occupation of a bedroom window ledge behind shutters that hadn’t been shut…..we dare not even use that room till we were quite sure that the entire family had decamped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The black redstarts here often fly into the house. We have had to keep the window shut at the top of our pigeonnier, which leads off our bedroom, otherwise they nest on top of a tall bookcase in there. They are incredibly messy nest-builders and just spread out a load of moss. I’ve never seen house martins here, although swallows are abundant.


  5. Join the club… but here in Dorset where I moved back in 2014 the garden is a sea of mud, with the months of rain we’ve had (oh for the drought of the Beauce!) . Last week they promised an upturn in the weather but today is set to be the first really warm and sunny day. My problem is that a blackbird has elected to build a nest in my potting shed (I left the door open a couple of weeks ago and she found it to her liking). I can’t sow any seeds in there, and can only remove a tool with the utmost precaution!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have had seas of mud here, too, this winter. The difference is that it dries out incredibly quickly. Our lane has turned from a quagmire to a dustbowl in the space of a few days. How lovely to have a blackbird nesting in your potting shed – if a little inconvenient. I hope you don’t have any cats in the neighbourhood. One year, a pair of blackbirds nested in the passion flower right by our kitchen door. We had to tiptoe in and out. Mrs Blackbird sat courageously on her eggs throughout.


    • It is bliss, isn’t it, after that awful winter? With this warm weather, you can almost see the trees coming out and the birdsong is lovely. We are still waiting to hear a nightingale and the hoopoes are a bit late, but the sun is good for the soul.


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