This is what I left behind…

I had hoped to update this before leaving, or even on the ferry coming back, but here it is now…

Winter Purslane and Chicory ‘Rossa di Treviso’:

The first crocuses opening:

The Camellia I posted in bud last time….

Helleborus niger. I need more of these!

These snowdrops are (finally) really starting to self-sow and increase. They came, initially, as a tiny clump from my parents’ front garden and they’ve steadily increased year on year.

The forecast is that in the days to come this (almost) non-winter will perhaps get a taste of the ‘real’ winter being currently experienced in Germany and Austria… Hopefully the plants that are foolish enough to think it’s already Spring won’t get too much of a shock!

A mixture of good things.

Daphne odora aureomarginata. If only I could put this perfume in a blog post! These relatively unshowy flowers are pretty, and welcome at this time of year. But the fragrance….If you could bottle it I’d wear it!St. Maudez amongst the pines:

Plestin beach:

Honeycomb weirdness over the mussels – every year it’s the same!

Medlar and apple jelly – the last preserve of last year.

Hamamelis ‘pallida’  – the best it’s ever been…

Primroses (many colours) starting to flower:

Camellias getting ready:

Winter honeysuckle, Lonicera purpusii – I dug this up and moved it to another spot. I wasn’t sure if it would be happy (or even survive the move), so the flowers now are an added joy.

Add to all of this the days getting longer by (literally) a minute or two, and the feeling that Spring is waiting in the wings….this has, so far, been a good Winter!

Solstice. The new year starts here…!

This is my ‘happiest’ day – although I’m often too depressed to notice it. From now on from this, the shortest day, we start the upward climb to summer. There will be more and more light. Winter (although not yet really arrived) will be giving way to Spring.

Today a visit to Huelgoat. After the consistent rain the rivers and streams are bursting their banks. Not more than normal… but, as the Summer and Autumn have been so dry, it’s a bit of a shock to see such a quantity of water.

The Winter Chanterelles were still abundant – but very wet, but taste just as good after a little more cooking.

And back in the garden. Hamamelis mollis flowering early, with its delicious, slightly elusive, spicy perfume…





Surely not another beach? And, am I sure that I’m not in Cornwall?

Yes, another one! But first before I post pictures of more sea, rocks and sand… The Seed Exchange went well.  I came home with some interesting (potentially) bean, lettuce and pea seeds – varieties all new to me. As well as some flower seeds that I’m very happy to have.

Today, a trip under rainy skies. But the weather improved so I didn’t sulk as much as I might have done. And it was worth it.

The Pointe de Primel. North Coast, above Morlaix. But if you picked me up and put me down again I might have sworn I was somewhere near Land’s End:

See what I mean?

Rain…and other Breton special things

1st of December, so it’s Winter. The temperatures dispute that, as it’s 14 degrees daytime and no less than 7 degrees overnight. But it is raining. It’s been raining for what feels like ages, and that’s always the case here. Once the rain starts it’s hard to remember that it was ever sunny. But as it has been a more or less perfect year weather wise, I’m not going to start complaining (yet.)

I’ve been spending the rainy days sorting out my seeds for the Seed Exchange tomorrow at Belle-Isle-en-Terre. One of the highlights of my gardening year. As well as preparing the seeds I’m taking, it also gives me a chance to see what I need to replenish, or what I haven’t got but would like to try. Of course it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will be there with things that I want. Sometimes it can be a bit disappointing; if people only have stuff I’ve already got enough of (or don’t like), or worse don’t bring anything at all! But the day itself is nearly always fun. And a chance to catch up with people that I sometimes only see annually at this event. I’ll update afterwards. But, in the meantime:

The first ever crop of Medlars. 

St. Maudez amongst the pines.

Chanterelles from the Gorge de Coronq.

Blewitts from the compost heap.

A bouquet of beech leaves, Camellia sasanqua, and Viburnum bodnantense.

Another post, another beach. This time Ste. Marguerite at Laneda

A trip West to the coast above Brest. This really is the land that time forgot territory. No reason for anyone to ever go there. The region is called, in tourist speak, ‘Les Abers’.

There are three ‘Abers’ or estuaries/creeks. Abers Wrac’h, Benoit and Ildut. The countryside is unrelentingly flat and almost tree-less. Reminiscent of the poulders of Holland.

It’s farming, and mainly the ‘primeurs’, so early crops of cauliflower, artichokes, onions etc. All of which do well on the sandy soil and mild (damp) climate.

It was a cold day with a biting easterly wind. Luckily the Dunes of St. Marguerite face west so were sheltered for the most part. So no wind whipping up the sea. Dead calm.

Gentle slurps as the waves arrived at the shore.  But just look at the seaweed! And, this is what the region is ‘famous’ for…masses of seaweed for fertiliser or ‘Goemon’. There are countless photos documenting the Goemoniers, nowadays in boats with a ‘scoubidou’ to whisk out the weed; previously a man with a pitchfork and a horse and cart.

The dunes behind the beach are an important habitat for lotsof wildflowers. I will go back there in the Spring.

More good stuff. Who’d have thought Autumn would be so generous?

I didn’t expect to be seeing any more butterflies. But a truly beautiful day today brought forth this stunning Comma. It was obviously enjoying feasting on the windfall apples.

And this Speckled Wood was floating around for most of this afternoon.

I’ve been intrigued by this for a few days now…a wasps nest that was dug out from a hedgerow bank. I think it was a badger that did it. (courageous or daft?) But the chunks of nest were strewn over the ground and there are still – four days later – a hardcore of wasps still clinging on in there… Every so often one flies off with what seems like a bit of the nest in its jaws. 

And finally… A very hardworking mouse has been amassing these acorns; rolling them a not insignificant distance to this gap in the step where it either has a nest or is making a store for the winter.

The Pink Granite Coast today…Ploumanac’h

A trip out to avoid sitting at home during a power cut –  not an unexpected one. EDF let me know three weeks ago that there would be work being done.

The electric went off as I went out of the door, and it was back on when I got back.

The Pink Granite Coast features in a lot of the tourist brochures for Brittany. It’s on the north coast like Plestin, which is the closest to me, but further along to the east.  At Plestin the pebbles are green, at Ploumanac’h the pebbles are… pink!

Actually, not massive amounts of pink pebbles on the beach. Lots of pink gravel. And actually, not really ‘pink’. More a salmony, orangish, pink. But the big (pink) boulders and rock formations are very different from my normal beach. Very reminiscent of the rocks around Land’s End in Cornwall. Or even of some of the Tors on Dartmoor. But the colour is pink. It wasn’t a sunny day, but the ‘pink’ is there on some of these photos:

And this…. a beautiful mixture of shells:

and a surprising, but lovely, late flowering of Rosa (canina?)

Good news, the baby blackbird’s back!

Well, if you didn’t know that the baby blackbird had disappeared at around the same time as Hissy died (and why would you?) This won’t be news. But today, something struck me about the flurry, fuss and noise of a blackbird close by. I had cheese parings in the barn (as you do…) and made what I call the ‘tuk, tuk noise’ that I used to call the baby blackbird with. And… there he was, at my feet and waiting.

I say ‘he’ decidedly now, because when it was the baby blackbird, before moulting into its adult plumage I had no idea. Now his beak has almost become sunny yellow, and his feathers are becoming the glossy black of a male, rather than the dull dark brown of a female.

He’s got friends. But they don’t know about the ‘tuk tuk noise’ or cheese, so he gets it all and imagine/hope that next Spring, when it’s mating time and territories start to get fought for, he’ll fight extra hard to stay here. He knows that there’s a tame human who won’t get too annoyed when he and his family start eating more than their fair share of the gooseberries, and red currants, and black currants.

After the first frost…

It was a hard frost; the Dahlias have collapsed into blackness and rotting stems. But, with a bit of netting strewn over various patches of garden, the majority of the late vegetables came through it unscathed. A good mix here of Pak Choi, Mizuna, Mustard Green, Celery, ‘Purple Top Milan’ turnips, baby carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and coriander leaf.

The beans were the only real casualty. They were supposed to be ripening to be stored dried for winter eating… but the frost put paid to that.  I prefer them fresh like this anyway, so nothing lost! The variety is ‘Prague’ and when they are properly mature they are an attractive stripy crimson on a greyish-pink background:

Why another photo of carrots? Because I can’t normally grow them. They don’t like me. So this year I don’t know what I’ve done differently?

Boletus edulis, Porcini, Penny Bun….all different names for the same mushroom. Sliced up ready for drying.

A beautiful selection of  Chanterelles, Amethyst Deceivers, tiny Hedgehog Fungus, Cauliflower Fungus, and a couple of Millers. From Huelgoat forest.And finally… Toussaint (All Souls) – in the village. Luckily the frost came the day before everyone put out their Chrysanthemums.