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Monday
Jun122017

Back in the garden. 

I am still trying to figure out how to have a large garden and being able to travel during summer time. I think it´s all about the timing and what you´re willing to miss while you are gone. Over the past few years I´ve observed that there´s a short window of time when my garden doesn´t really need me at the end of May/beginning of June. That´s right after I´ve planted all the seedlings out in the veggie garden and the perennials are big enough at this point to not be bothered too much by weeds or slugs. I mean, there´s always something to do in the garden, but basically what all the plants need to do at that point is grow, and they can do that just as well without me staring at them, if you know what I mean. So I figured that maaaayybe if I did a very thorough weeding just before I left, this could actually be a good time for a holiday? 

Well very happy to report that I was right. It all worked out beautifully. I missed the Irises blooming - which is tragic - and also my late white lilac and the jasmine. But everything else kind of waited for me to return, including the paeonies which are stunning this year. 

However it was a bit of a shock to see just how much everything had grown in the two weeks we had been away. I guess that´s what happens if you don´t stare at the plants every day willing them to grow already. The best example is this newish long border! Love. This year it looks almost like I´ve imagined. I finally have foxgloves in my garden! This makes me so happy. And my lavender border is looking pretty good too.

However if I´m completely honest with you I missed my garden so so much while we were gone. I loved our time in France but I worried way too much, among other things, whether my salad bed would survive the neglect! Ha. What didn´t help was that I read this book on holiday and while I thought it was excellent, the author talks a lot about the terrible neglect his garden suffers during his travels, and this wasn´t exactly what I needed to hear! (There´s enough salad to feed the crowds, as you can see).

Fun fact: The day we returned I went straight from the car to the garden and didn´t leave it until a good few hours of work after... because I am insane. Anyway so happy to be back in my garden and see it thriving. However maybe next time I should just hire someone who takes care of it while I am gone (but would he or she do it right... that is the question... yeah I am insane.)

Thursday
Jun082017

A holiday in France.

So we are back from a very beautiful holiday in France. The back story is that almost 20 years ago, on a roadtrip with my then-boyfriend, I had briefly visited the Cotentin peninsula in the Normandy. I had loved it, and when I stumbled upon a promising airbnb-listing at the beginning of this year, I thought it might be fun to visit again and see whether I still liked it there. Spoiler: I did. 

But first things first: Our holiday cottage which was just fantastic. It is the former bakery house of a still-active farm. The whole farm is gorgeous, complete with a manor house (which is for rent too) and several lovely outbuildings. We basically had the lake for ourselves, and the house itself was so cozy and tastefully furnished. 

The view from our deck over the lake was fantastic at any time of the day, but particularly in the early morning with the mist hovering over the water. If I ever buy or build a house again, it has to be next to a lake (or the sea... you know, I´m not picky).

View from the farm towards the main road. No big deal.

The farmland looked like this. Talk about idyllic? They had sheep and cattle who seemed to enjoy it a lot too.

Ludwig love the lake, and especially the fishies in it! Oh boy! The thing is just that they don´t respond much to barking. Ignorant creatures.

The area has many, many gorgeous beaches which are literally devoid of people. The Cotentin still seems to be pretty much undiscovered by tourism, which I find strange but personally suits me very well. 

But such a pretty, pretty piece of the world! So lush and green and full of flowers and fairy tale villages. Go there! Or maybe don´t, so that it stays unspoiled for a little while longer. 

A little housekeeping: I quit Facebook a few weeks ago (because... well let´s just say it helps with my anger management), so the Taking Notes page is gone as well. Just as an FYI. I hope we can still be "friends". 

Wednesday
May172017

In the garden, May 2017.

I think the garden is just heartbreakingly beautiful right now, so I took a bunch of pictures this evening. 

My white tulips are gone, but the pink and almost-black ones are still going strong.

I love this picture.

Look how big that white lilac in the corner is. I very clearly remember how I planted a very tiny plant in our first year here, with the hope that one day it would look like this. Good things come to those who wait.

I think this long border will be very pretty this summer.

We finished the tomato houses this weekend. I was worried that they would look odd with the greenhouse foil up, but I don´t mind it at all. Now imagine these filled with tomato plants and dahlias blooming in the borders! 

The veggie garden is coming along, but still looking a bit sparse. Red cabbage is always pretty though, and so is that lonely aquilegia that self-seeded in my strawberry patch. 

Bonus picture! "Am I pretty mom?" "You sure are my love."

PS: I´ll take a little blog break since we are going on a holiday next week! If anyone has recommendations for the Cotentin peninsula in Northern France, I´d very happy to hear them. We´ll be back after Pentecost. Have a good few weeks!

Sunday
May072017

A tentative spring. 

This spring in two words: Very cold. Like winter coat cold. It was slightly better this week, and I could literally hear the garden sighing with relief. However the forecast predicts night frosts for next week, which isn´t unusal for this time of the year (ice saints!), but good God am I ever over it. 

Regardless, the garden is chugging along nicely. The tulips are out and the geraniums are huge already. I´ve become such a fan of geraniums, they do so nicely in our soil and are such grateful plants. The middle picture shows a variety that our local plant nursery offered last year; it has lovely colorful leaves and tiny, dark purple flowers. So pretty.  

 Ludwig says hi! Did I ever tell you that we have the best dog? Because we do. 

Because the light was so nice.

This is another angle of the first picture. My garden isn´t a great spring garden (yet), but this corner is nice. I hadn´t planned to have two varieties of white tulips here, but I placed a wrong order and frankly, I don´t mind one bit. The simple, large white tulips are perfect for the background and the smaller, more ornamental ones (these are "White Triumphator") can shine in the front. 

The chicken gang! I love them so. Above is Lore who is such a character. She is our green laying hen, the smallest of the bunch and so so funny. And the last picture shows Luzia who has just eaten quark which is now all over her face. 

Have a happy week! Keep your fingers crossed that my garden survives the upcoming frost!

Tuesday
May022017

More about Fred.

At long last, a bit more about Fred! Judging from your comments, robotic lawn mowers aren´t a thing (yet?) in the US, but by now they are quite common in Europe - or at least in Germany. Fred is the third of its kind in our little village! However this is probably not due to the fact that we are all such early adopters but more because the gardens here are huge and it´s quite handy if someone else does the work for you (which took us about 5 hours a week with a regular lawn mower). 

Enter Fred! Fred is a heavy duty model (because remember, large garden) and wasn´t cheap. I have to admit that at first I was very sceptical because Fred was such an investment and while the other Freds in our village were doing a fine job, our garden is a bit different with its many beds and borders and trees and shrubs (which is also why a lawn tractor didn´t make sense). The question was, would Fred be up to the challenge? 

The answer is, yes he is! I have to admit that the results were lacking in the first few days but Fred is supposed to "learn" his way through our garden over time - something I was very sceptical about but by now he actually does know (and mow) every nook and cranny in our garden! It´s really quite impressive. Also quite impressive was the time it took to prepare our garden for Fred. We (well, by "we" I mean mostly my husband, because Fred is his baby...) had to set up a border wire (a little information about how Freds work is here), Fred needed a power supply for his docking station and then we had to eliminate any possible obstacles - which included leveling out some of the bumpy areas in our garden so that Fred wouldn´t drown in a puddle! Which is why there are so many freshly sown areas in the pictures. Anyway now that all is done and Fred is doing a good job I can whole-heartedly say that it was worth it! Yay Fred!  

Just for funsies I searched my hard drive for this picture from more or less exactly 6 years ago. It´s the same area that you see in the picture above. And NO, it wasn´t better before. This was a jungle and not a garden. 

Bonus picture! My fabulous husband built me tomato houses! Gosh, aren´t these so pretty? We still need to put up the greenhouse film and I assume after they won´t look that lovely any more, but until then I get heart eyes whenever I look at them. And see those large areas between them? Two words: Dahlia borders! Can´t wait! 

PS: This post isn´t sponsored by Husqvarna, although it totally should be.