Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How does your garden grow?

Apparently, quite slowly. But surely too - of that I am certain. For already, these photos that were taken last week are sadly outdated. I am now waiting for the fireworks, holding my breath for the first boom.

For you see we first were able to rent our little plot of land - I would say that it is roughly four to five yards wide and maybe ten deep - last November. Yes, that is a long time to wait. But it will be worth it.

There is an association in our tiny village that is something of a gardener's club. For only 20€ a year (or $22 USD, my that is a good exchange rate), we are able to grow...what we like. 

The previous renters squatted on their rights for too long. The land hadn't been tilled in years and so they were given the boot. But oh, what work that meant for us...

First, we had to see if there was anything to save, such as these wild strawberries...

...which we were told would produce nothing this year as we had moved them (let's hear a hooray for our few tiny survivors)...

...along with what is a heart-shaped beating red carnation now that it has been weeded...

...as well as various mystery plants that we have no clue what they are but have left as they are pretty.

Because here is the thing: we have no idea what we are doing. None.

And yet...and yet, already there are beginnings of something promising...

Now, we can't take credit as Remi and I have been utterly taken under the wings of all of the most experienced gardeners. I suppose they give us something like sweet pity as former city-folk, one of whom is an americaine to boot!

And in meeting them, I have found such generosity that it makes my heart bloom every single time with  gratitude. I will tell you more about these characters (for they really are) in time.

So what have we planted? I know that some of you are already tapping your feet with impatience by this point. Oh - and I should add that after prepping the earth and covering it with a healthy dose of horse manure (which has to be at least six months old, we were told and that makes sense - fortunately, there are plenty of horses in these parts), we let it sleep the winter out. Now, it is ready to welcome...

...22 tomato plants (most of which are heirloom varietals and were a welcome gift, including the delicious "black" tomato from Crimea), a massive amount of potatoes (put in the back plot as suggested to "clean out the earth and keep the moles away"), purple and white eggplants, three kinds of salad, cucumbers (that we mistakenly planted near the tomatoes, our one big mistake, so we shall see), red peppers, zucchini (currently in flower!) as well as the afore-mentioned transplanted fraises

There were also already in place both thyme and rosemary bushes as well as two gigantic lavender plants that are oh-so-thankful that I pruned them back. Each night, I hold one of the blooms in my hand to see how the parfum is progressing. A bit of sweet nonsense that is everything. 

It is our little world, one where our outside thoughts can't reach us as if the cane fences (that we cut down and Remi built) block out the non-essential. Right now I am going everyday to water and weed, especially as those Mistral winds are still blowing (it is all the talk in the local superette as to when they will cease, Thursday is the current prediction, fingers crossed) which dries out the land enormously. Growing in Provence has particular challenges into itself as I am learning. So at the end of the day after everyone else has already passed by, we head over and I begin by taking stock. "How does our garden grow?" I wonder. And filled with hope, I see. 


  1. Hooray!!! A new chapter in Lost in Arles begins, and we are mighty excited! Wow - I wouldn't have imagined it was so green and thriving already! What beautiful yellow flowers (roses???) and red carnations and love all the sweet rows of things. It's magical isn't it? Gardening always seemed like the ultimate spiritual hobby; I'm excited to hear about your fellow gardeners but I also can't wait to watch your garden grow! It's all making me think of a Stephen Sondheim song (maybe he wrote only the lyrics), "Make Our Garden Grow" which I sang with all the MT alumni at our 25 year performance/reunion a few years ago - a very majestic, beautiful song but fitting as a score for your tiny, magical garden, too!

  2. Wonderful Heather...
    Gardening must be one of the greatest joys of all..
    I sent you a little note about your mystery plant... :)

  3. Nothing more exciting than watching your garden grow! It's spectacular already! Good job!! Keep those beautiful photos coming so we can enjoy the changes - and find out more about your helpful gardener friends!

  4. you will have so much fun - I adore my vegetable garden, away from the demands of every day life, a willing child to help every now and then, always a cat sitting on the old stone wall watching out for lizards, and a fabulous neighbour who is a Paysagiste and who gives me so much fantastic advice!

  5. The bush by the fence looks like a MOCK ORANGE.Does the white flower have a fragrance??Especially in the evening.......I could be WRONG.HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW..........well HONEY IT IS GROWING!!!What a pretty spot you found and I adore the others are all around!Your fencing is DELICIOUS as those SOUTH AFRICANS would say!YOU will be selling a few tomatoes at the farmers market cause 22 plants will produce a TON!
    WOW WOW WOW...................so happy for YOU!XOXOXO

    1. I think it looks like a mock orange, too. Your garden grows beautifully Heather. It's responding to your love and care.

  6. I forgot YOU Know what to do with those ZUCCHINI FLOWERS......right?Serve as a starter course.......in flour,salt,water batter and fry up with a dab of mozzarella inside!DELICIOUS............XO

  7. Enjoyed reading this, Heather. Let us see more, as your garden progresses! You'll have wonderful fresh-to-the- table salads and veggies soon. All grown by yourselves! There can't be a better sense of satisfaction and enjoyment than that!
    Deb in Melbourne

  8. A timelypost! I am, over the next couple of weekends, about to change our courtyard garden bed into a vegetable and herb garden. It is not very big but I am so looking forward to having a little "ediblegarden" amongst our native garden! I am like you though...we know nothing...so it is going to be hit and miss for a little while so am on the lookout for handy hints (mmm...horse manure...)!!
    Your community garden looks just wonderful!

  9. Congratulations Heather. A garden of one’s own. The anticipation of bloom, nurturing and harvest. But the fresh produce will be a celebration in the kitchen and palate. The tomatoes, the eggplants.
    Even I could hardly wait.

  10. Waiting for the 'fireworks and the first boom' heavenly...I hope it is a fabulous 'boom', Heather! xx

  11. This post was really delightful! I truly enjoyed reading about your new garden. May your harvest be plentiful, lots of new friends made and plenty of knowledge passed around along with plants. Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

  12. Ah..for the love of a garden. I would say you are hooked Heather and rightly so. Love the choices and the cane fencing. Looks like something we see in Vietnam. Enjoy your garden, I imagine there will be many tales to be told. It's the gardening books that follow that are so much fun as well. Enjoy! xx

  13. Your garden is gorgeous! I look forward to reading about its progress as well as the recipes you two will be creating.

    I'm big on the herbs parsely and basil because I use the fresh leaves in sandwiches, eggs and baked wraps. Marigolds, the protector of tomatoes, are my favorite garden flower. Beet greens and spring onions are nice. I try to companion plant when there's more room (than the container space I now have).
    Happy Gardening!

  14. As a city girl, I have never had a garden, and oh I want one! So I will be especially happy to watch yours! That rosemary bush in bloom made my heart beat faster!!

  15. Wonderful garden Heather ! Enjoy your bloom, maturing and harvest my dear. Fried Zucchini flowers are delicious indeed! No ediblegarden for us this year unfortunately, maybe next year. Gardening is a real joy! Have a nice evening! Bisous

  16. The garden will be beautiful Heather and I'm sure will produce a bounty of delicious produce. Doesn't it feel good to get your hands dirty? Just love it. xxTracy

  17. Thank you everyone for all of your kind comments!! I am so sorry that I couldn't keep up to answer them individually but trust me, I loved all of them. :)

  18. It seems silly, but I feel like there is something magical about plucking something out of the ground myself. Even a simple sprig of basil from my tiny balcony is special.

    I hope this little plot of yours is bountiful.


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