Grape vine in autumn

Autumn leaves and sunshine provide a wonderful photo opportunity. Our grape vine has turned magnificent shades of red and gold. When I looked out of the back room window and saw the vine glinting in the sunshine I know that I must take some pictures.

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The vine grows on a trellis around the entrance to my greenhouse. It has numerous bunches of grapes this year but most of the grapes are tiny. The ripe ones are lovely to eat but they each contain a pip so are hard work. I am going to leave most of them for the birds.

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Gorgeous geraniums

We were browsing around our local garden centre when I spotted some attractive clay pots at a bargain price. There were five left and they quickly found their way into my trolley.

I had an idea they would look good on the wall surrounding our garden pond. But the question was what to put in them? The answer came when we passed a display of summer bedding plants – geraniums. That was back in the spring. Now the geraniums are putting on a beautiful display for us.

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Monet’s garden – the lily pond

Ten years after his arrival at his house in Giverny, Monet bought the piece of land neighbouring his property on the other side of the railway (now a road). The land was crossed by a stream, the Ru, which eventually runs into the River Seine. Monet had a small pond dug, in spite of opposition from the local farmers. They were afraid that his exotic plants would poison the water.

Later the pond was be enlarged to its present size. The water garden is full of meandering curves and shady areas. It was inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected.

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Monet’s garden – the borders

We visited Monet’s garden on 10 August 2011. It is located 80 km West from Paris, France in the village of Giverny. Claude Monet, a master of impressionist painting, was born in 1840. He rented a house at Giverny in 1883, a few years later he purchased the house. He lived there for 43 years, until his death in 1926. He developed the garden to provide subjects for his painting.

The garden is in two parts; near the house are herbaceous borders. In a separate area cross a main road is the lily pond with its Japanese bridge made famous by Monet’s paintings. Since the road is quite busy with tourist traffic, a pedestrian tunnel has been constructed to give the visitors easy access to the water gardens.

This first post features pictures of Monet’s house and the herbaceous borders.

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How to use stacked tubs for a dazzling display

Here is an idea that I came across in a French town square. I plan to try in my own garden next year. These impressive towers of petunias and geraniums are planted in a series of tubs stacked on top of one another. Once the plants grow bushy they drape down to hide the tub structure.

Impressive towers of petunias and geraniums seen in France.


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Glorious Gazanias

When we were in the garden centre choosing some plants for our tubs the brightly coloured gazania plants caught our eye. They have settled in well and continue to produce new flowers. The daisy-type flowers open when the sun comes out and close up in the evening or on a dull day. The label that came with them tells me they will flower from spring to autumn so we are looking forward to some continuous colour.

Glorious Gazanias

Glorious Gazanias

Runner beans survive blackfly infestation

A few weeks ago the new shoots on our runner beans were covered with blackfly. After consulting the wisdom of the Internet I sprayed the blackfly with a weak solution of washing up liquid. This seems to have slowed down the breading program of the little critters. Also, some ladybirds have appeared and seem to be making a meal of the blackfly. The runner beans have put on a lot of new growth and are cropping well. There are still a few blackfly around but I will leave the ladybirds to deal with them.

Yucca recovering after frost damage

My five foot yucca has survived winters unscathed for many years. However, the winter of 2010/2011 took its toll and left the plant with a mass of brown dead leaves. I started by trimming back the leaves but it then looked a sad mess. I decided the best approach was to saw it back to some low buds. As the picture shows, it is now sprouting well and hopefully will make a well shaped plant as the summer progresses.

A walk around Lake Bled, Slovenia

We took the local bus from Bohinj, Slovenia to Lake Bled. Then we took a gentle stroll around the lake, returning to the same point to catch the bus back. The lake surroundings are well groomed and an easy walk. There is also a small land train that circles the lake if you are feeling particularly lazy.

A small island in the middle of the lake is home to the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church. The church has 99 steps leading up to it. A local tradition at weddings is for the husband to carry his new bride up these steps. It is said that if he makes it the marriage will last.

Perched on a rock overlooking the lake is the iconic Bled Castle that houses a museum. We stopped at a lake side café below the castle to enjoy a slice of the local speciality vanilla-and-cream pastry called kremna rezina (“cream slice”).

Lake Bled, Slovenia.

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A walk up the Mostnica gorge, Slovenia

A beautiful walk near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia takes you up the Mostnica gorge to a waterfall. We were there in early July 2011. The walk starts at the alpine village of Stara Fuzina. At times you are walking high above the river as it races through deep cuttings in the rock. At other stages the path runs alongside the river where it widens out and flows over boulders. Along the river banks can be found exquisite wild orchids and other delicate wild flowers.

Mostnica gorge, Slovenia.

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