I decided to shoot some photos of the castle and the colourful border of irises while I was waiting for my friends for to reappear from behind a tree or through an open doorway. When they didn’t, I figured out that they were probably strolling around the vegetable garden, having a closer look at the prince’s famous tomatoes. It was time to join them …
I found my friends inside the walled vegetable garden behind the castle. Its lay-out has both French and English features. It has the symmetrical flower and vegetable beds, often lined with low bushes, but the paths in between these beds are soft green lawns, in which wildflowers are given a chance to grow. You can tell that the lawns are mowed regularly though in order to keep the growth of the grass and the wildflowers under control.
There are a lot of roses too, some low bushes, but mainly climbing roses, elegantly draped over a wooden pergola which runs along one side of the garden. Walking through the long shaded and fragrant tunnel of green leaves and multi-coloured roses, is a very Alice in Wonderland–like experience. The only thing missing is the white rabbit with its watch showing you the way. But then I guess rabbits aren’t really welcome in this bountiful garden!
Bountiful, yes … but without the much praised tomatoes! There was one gardener busy putting young tomatoes plants in one of the carefully prepared vegetable beds. We each sort of wandered around on own, stopping every now and then to capture the moment or the sight. I noticed that J.L. spent quite a bit of time talking to the gardener, who looked happy with the break. Later I learned that J.L. had asked him for advice about watering the young plants and protecting them from dying during a long spell of dry and hot weather.
As I mentioned before, J.L. had brought some tomato plants that he had grown from seeds in Belgium to plant in his garden in France. His main concern was who was to water them when he wasn’t in France. If we are to believe this professional gardener – and I see no reason not to – you should ‘teach’ the tomatoes from the start to do with less water. If they start their lives being watered every other day, you should continue doing so for the rest of their existence. If you take the habit of watering them only once a week or so, they will grow into this habit and will learn to limit their water consumption/needs.
Unfortunately, J.L.’s tomatoes had been spoiled from the beginning, receiving ample fluids every other day. So this first tip came too late. The second tip may proof to be more useful though. Cover the ground around the stem with hay or damp grass as soon as you’ve watered the tomato plant. That’ll stop the water from evaporating. As J.L. had planned to mow the lawn behind the house, he had a large supply of nice wet grass at hand that was suitable for this specific purpose.
It’s well over a month now since he planted the tomatoes and I don’t know whether my friends have been back to the house since. The damp and chilly weather of the last three weeks of June was probably beneficial to the plants growth. The recent and long-awaited arrival of summer may have stumped their growth though.
After our visit, we drove back to the house, to start preparations for Monday’s B-BBQ, more lawn mowing and a picnic dinner.
P.S. I have at least two dozen beautiful photos of our visit at La Bourdaisière, which I can't post here right now. But you'll get to see them in time ... when I have nothing more to write about. In the meanwhile I'm struggling with my new laptop and Windows 8. My former laptop having been given a CRITICAL safety report after 5 years of loyal services. But I'm sure I'll soon get the hang of this new device. Wish me luck ... and if you are a Windows 8 user your tips are more than welcome :)