Sunday, 30 September 2012

The garden at Château de Villaines

We went garden visiting yesterday, since it was a mild and sunny afternoon and it might be raining the morrow.  The chateau itself is classed as a "Monument historique", and its garden as a "Jardin remarquable".  The most "remarquable" thing of all, I find, is the number of classifications they seem to find necessary in France.  The idea that people visit a place, form a view as to whether or not it offers value for money,  and that the market then looks after itself is a bit, well, anglo-saxon.

Anyway, the veg garden is indeed, quite remarkable.  It's set out like a formal French flower garden, but with vegetables.  Rectangles of veg plots are surrounded by little box hedges, linked with grassy walkways, and decorated with pots and statuary.  Each has its own assortment of chosen plants. The garden covers a hectare, and is completely surrounded by a wall of some 3-4 metres high.  My own veg plot would easily fit into one of the two rectangles they have dedicated to artichokes, so I'm quite envious.

Here's a couple of general views of it to give you an idea.

On the three walls that don't face North, they have put espaliered pears and other fruit trees.  Apples are espaliered too, but are cut low, and used to make the enclosures for rectangles of other fruit such as raspberries and gooseberries.  I scrumped one.  There is something especially delicious about a fresh, ripe apple that falls into your hand when you gently push it sideways, and it's always a pleasure to pay homage to a language that has a special word that means precisely, to steal, specifically apples, and specifically from a tree.

They also had neat tomato climbing frames that I was quite taken with.  They appear to be made of a cast-iron pinnacle welded to iron rod, and are rock solid. They sit about a metre high.  I might ask my pal Alain how to do arc-welding and make some up myself.  I've no doubt that they'd be hideously expensive to buy; it would take the rest of my life to grow enough tomatoes to recover the cost.

Finally, I'm noticing large numbers of butterflies about, these last few days.  I don't know if the strange Spring weather is responsible for a lot of late development, but there seem to be hundreds.  I had not known before, just how attractive Asters are to butterflies, but they seem to be at least as attractive as the Buddleia when it is full bloom, and more so than the Sedum that is now in flower.  Here's a couple from the Château, one on Asters, the other on Salvia.


the fly in the web said...

Classifications....each one probably has a different body awarding it.
If the unemployment figures get any worse they'll have to invent more categories to set up more bodies to employ more get the drift.

I too covet those tomato frames...

Zimbabwe said...

Wish my garden looked like this! We seem to have many cabbage butterflies around at the moment but few pretty ones, not even on my asters

The bike shed said...

Quite a few butterflies have autumn broods, including the ones on your pictures, though in the case of Painted Ladies they also migrate north from Africa each year. Sedum often attracts autumn species.
The wet weather this spring has reduced the numbers dramatically though.

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