Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 26 July 2013

No, we have no tomatoes today

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 :)


chm said...

Can't help with your new laptop since I'm a Mac man. The more sophisticated these things get the more user unfriendly they become. I'm pesting all the time about my iPad to no avail. What can I do? Throw it away? I wish you luck.

Bob said...

really enjoying your photos and very detailed description of your trip. I'm a Mac guy and would definitely recommend one to you. I think an iPad would be ideal for you! Look for to more photos and comments.

Nadege said...

I resisted for the longest time, but 2 years ago, I got a MacBookPro and I love it. I don't think I can go back to anything else. It is handy and I can walk to the Mac store and take advantage of their "genius bar". Like Bob suggested, an iPad might be the best for you.
That castle and its gardens are really beautiful!

VirginiaC said...

Love the garden tour, but especially the bench under the shade of the peaceful and beautiful.
I liked the tips from the gardener as was nice of him to share them.

GaynorB said...

Lovely flowers. I'm glad you found your friends otherwise the delicious BBQ might not have happened.

Can't advise on the computer front. My son has the dilemma of getting an i-pad or a tablet computer for when he goes to japan I'll let you know what he finally decides.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Martine, the iPad might be good for reading blogs but it wouldn't be the right tool for creating blog posts. For that you need a full computer, whether a laptop or a desktop. As for Windows 8, Walt uses it and hasn't had problems, but I'm still on Windows 7.

Craig said...

I'm a big fan of bearded irises and those in your photo are beautiful.
The gardens look wonderful.
We have Windows 8 on our new laptop and I must say that I really don't like it at all. It may be OK for a touch screen computer or tablet but we don't find it easy to use for regular computing. Clive found a away to make it look and act like windows 7 which is much easier. If you want any information on this, just send us an email.

Jean said...

I have Windows 7 on my laptop, which is great. Nick has Windows 8 on his and hates it.

To some degree I think it's down to personal taste and what you can get used to. I was quite happy with my laptop until I got my mini iPad, which is so slick and fast I wouldn't be without it now. It's a fantastic tool for emails, reading and internet use but I would find it to fiddly for documents or writing blog posts.

ladybird said...

Chm, Thank you. I'm beginning to get the hang of it, a.o. thanks to Walt who kindly supplied the information concerning the 'shut down' button.

Bob, I did hesitate, but as Ken points out, a regular laptop with a classical keyboard is much easier for creating blog posts and handling photos.

Nadege, I may become a iPad adept one day, but not yet ;)

Virginia, The gardener seemed like a very nice man and he really enjoyed talking to someone as interested as J.L.

Gaynor, You're right, for a second it looked like 'touch and go' but I knew they wouldn't have left without me. :)

Ken, Thanks for the useful tip. Walt's advice was very useful too and I feel much more at ease now ... and more adventurous.

Craig, I love these irises too. When I see them, I always associate them with France and my holidays over the years. I may send you an email presently for more information. Thank you for offering your help.

Jean, Do you use a traditional computer to write your blog posts and post your photos?