When the countryside awakes in early spring, the fields and deciduous woods glow with drifts of naturalized daffodils…dancing & fluttering in the breeze, these early flowering bulbs, the color of spring, emerge like hidden treasures. Forsythia, pussy willow and pink star magnolia blooms follow, the sweet signs of spring. Everything is clear and fragrant, life and nature…as certain as the moon and stars!
Springing into action…time to take advantage of warmer weather to begin pruning, planting and mulching. Already my garden is a spring bouquet of daffodils, forsythia, magical white snowdrops, tiny purple iris, winter honeysuckle, blue rosemary buds, creamy star anise, and winter jasmine’s cheery cascade of sunny blooms on naked green shoots…everywhere I walk, fragrance is abundantly sweet. It is sheltered by woods and enriched by years of leaf-mould and compost…a joy to work in. Suddenly the wind begins to blow, oak treetops swirling like a mixer and I find it difficult to work…my favorite garden hat…found at a little shop in Aix-en-Provence…blows away across the yard and into the woods. Chasing it, I stumble, fall and thankfully land in a pile of leaves I had raked away earlier! Struggling to stand, I check everywhere and find all is well…of course, tomorrow the bruises and aches will make themselves known! The joys of aging apparent, even though I’m in good “shape” for my age!
Spring is traditionally the season for fresh goat’s milk cheeses…and all over southern France the farmers’ markets will be bursting back into life after the winter break. I love the individuality of a goat cheese from different farms…some rolled in ash, some wrapped in chestnut leaves soaked in brandy or bourbon, some allowed to form a slight rind or crust. Crottins de Charvignol, a French classic goat cheese, available at fine fine markets, is a mainstay favorite for cooking or crumbled on a salad.
Refresh your home for spring…March is typically a month for spring cleaning, a time to sweep up dust in the corners, along baseboards and bunnies under the bed.A good time for moving around furniture a bit and cleaning all wood surfaces with lavender or lemon oil water. I use only natural products…lemons, vinegar, baking soda, borax and essential oils…never synthetic sprays for fine wood pieces! It feels so good to give my home a fresh look and fragrance that reflects the change in season. **See past years for much more details on natural cleaning.
Watching the garden transform from bare to beautiful…while planning a new planting area! Friends often ask me…”Why do you have so many blooms in your garden in late winter and early spring?” My reply leaves them puzzled…”I design gardens and landscapes with a long season, almost year-round, of blooms and fragrance. Both are very important aspects of any garden. Puzzled because they don’t really know that much about plants and just buy what they see that they like…then get mainly plants that they see blooming in spring and nothing much more as the seasons unfold!
Garden design is not an exact science, it’s an emotional response to colors, textures, shapes, scent and bloom…for me it is also about experimentation, flexibility and inspiration! Typically I base a garden around a few simple things…good shrubs and plants, evergreen and deciduous, focal points, paths, and structures…and most of all a design that suits the site, the climate and the needs/wants of the gardener. Many layers of planting add depth and a long season of bloom resulting in a garden that excites, invites and soothes the senses!
Love these diverse structures for the garden…both have a rustic feel to some degree, perfect for a cottage garden.
Dry creek bed…This is another very important aspect of designing a garden…planning for rain and run off! This shows using a simple stone swale to carry rainfall from downspout winding through the yard to the street. I have designed many expansive dry creek beds for clients that wind through a landscape and eventually end in a small pond. Consider this if you have drainage issues before you start planting a garden.
It’s late, the wind is slowed down a bit and time to think about dinner for Holly and me and which wine I want to open…til next time!
Woof from Holly!! Love from Patricia