Dainty, golden Tete-t-Tete  narcissus/daffodils are pushing through a blanket of leaf mulch and compost…and the crocus, too!                                        crocus

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Tiny signs that spring has not forgotten to make a stop on its way around the world! Once again…the rediscovery of the awakening garden, and now everything changes…

Speaking of ROSES…Well, I was dreaming! While out lecturing to clubs and various organizations about growing old roses, I am often asked which is my favorite. Among the old roses I grow and have grown in my gardens…that is an impossible question to answer for it often changes from day to day. However, there is one that has always held a spot of precious in my heart…Mme. Alfred Carriere, white, blushed with palest pink has a true heavenly old rose scent. This climbing rose has clusters of delicious blossoms which go on flowering for months. Far from ordinary…she is a vigorous Noisette rose, quite easy to grow. Close to being thorn less, her foliage is smooth and pale green and I rarely find any “spots” other than rain spots on her leaves!! A lovely rose for growing near the front door where you can enjoy her fragrance every time you go in or out the door. At night I go out into the garden to look at her blooms in the moonlight; she gleams like a lovely ghost scrambling over the cedar arch…alfred-de-carriere

Photo was “copied and pasted” here from a beautiful blog-site…My French Country Home, by Sharon Santoni Smith…because the closeup shows her beautifully!

In my garden, I plant a combination of onion chives and French thyme around her ankles…gives her some greenery during the winter…other roses often get lemon thyme instead…never get tired of two of my favorite herbs…along with lavender and rosemary, of course!  Shown in the photo is an urn full of lemon thyme                                             IMG_0849

sitting in the midst of a huge lemon verbena shrub…this sits by the back porch step into the garden. As I brush by on my way out to the yard the fragrance never fails to stop me! I will often pinch off a few sprigs of both and rub them against my cheek giving me a hint of lemon while working. When pesky mosquitoes are out during the summer I rub the lemony herbs over any bare skin to help repel the flying vermin!

 

FRAGRANCE…such an important part of life…many smells are comforting, especially when associated with food. For me, flowers and herbs have fragrance and food smells GOOD! The words “food” and “France” are almost synonymous. [You really didn’t think I’d fail to mention France…seriously?]

Good food is a part of ordinary life all over France…think of hearty stews and soups redolent of herbs, garlic and wine…desserts made with pears, cherries or strawberries–the produce of local orchards and gardens…just like yours! The Loire flows through the heart of France…where walled kitchen gardens or potagers grow vegetables, fruits and herbs almost year round…while vineyards produce delicate wines that complement the food of the region perfectly…and goats, their milk product providing a superb cheese. The food of Provence reflects all the color and warmth of the region…herbs and garlic, sun-ripened tomatoes, haricot beans, cassoulets, honey made by the bees that forage in the flower-scented garrigue** and lavender fields, and almonds from hillier regions, and so much more…

France is a country where meals are a very important part of the day! pieIn Provence, families gather to enjoy relaxed meals often taking place outdoors on a shady terrace or vine-covered arbor. Rarely formal, these meals are simple and suggestive of sun-ripened flavors and fresh, healthy ingredients. Shown here is a Quiche, a simple but substantial part of an easy meal…add salad greens, a baguette, some wine and viola!!

 

 

Desserts are usually just cheese but I found that fruit sorbet and clafoutis were often  delightful choices to end a long leisurely meal…clafoutissorbet

**Garrigue…refers to the low-growing vegetation on limestone hills of the Mediterranean coast…bushy and fragrant plants that grow wild there such as thyme, rosemary, lavender and juniper.

         jar

The colors of Provence…pottery in sun-shades are my favorite…an old pate’ jar, glazed pitcher and scalloped edge plates, all finds at village markets…this Provencal look concentrates a feeling of color and warmth…

Provence is always associated with certain flowers…roses, jasmine, lavender, mimosa and violets…usually grown in home gardens but in larger quantities for shipping to Grasse for perfume and soap production.

Wildflowers are everywhere, lines of lavender wind along the edges of fields and across terraced land…and huge fields of sunflowers are now a common sight, the perfect choice to bring a an instant touch of Provence to any table.

Create a “Provencal look” in your courtyard, porch or terrace…add an abundance of vivid scarlet and pink geraniums grown in pots…this cheerful flower blooms from spring to fall and one never tires of of the bright colors in the dazzling sunshine…along with another distinctively French flower, the starry white marguerite daisies, you’ll have blooms to enjoy all season!

                                        MIMOSA…typical of coastal Provence…the festival begins in APRIL!!                                                        mimosa

March means lions, lambs, and hares…it brings lively shades of yellow, pink and white to herald spring filling every day with beauty, joy and promise!     

 More again, soon…I hope you enjoy my meanderings!

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