Today, at 12:41, spring officially began. Everything changed, I could tell. The bald spot on my head suddenly felt slightly sunburnt. I took a bike ride up to Badefols to post some letters and on the way back, I saw that my neighbor Dede was out on his tractor.
Normally, every year, Dede comes over to plow up our garden. Last year was so wet and cold, that we didn't have the garden plowed until June! Everything was late. There had been a few warm days in March. The plants started to bloom and then in April, a real killing frost. We had no plums, kiwis or figs.
This year, again, we have had a profound early warm spell, but it has been much dryer.
There are leaves and buds on the kiwi, the mirabelle plum is about to begin to flower...in fact the lilacs and wisteria are beginning to show real promise! Last year, I did have a bumper crop of raspberries and I expect to have even more this year.
As the land around the house becomes less fertile and more naturally wild, because it is not being used as cow pasturage, more wild flowers are beginning to reappear.
Last year, a few bumblebee and goat orchids appeared. This year, I have identified at least 6 more orchid plants making their presence known. It's pretty early for many, so maybe more will show up later. I have to be very careful cutting the lawn when they are growing.
So, on my way back from Badefols, I stopped and talked to DeDe and told him our ground was dry enough and would it be possible for him to turn it over when he had a chance?
Sure enough, about an hour later, he showed up on his old Massey-Ferguson and had turned over and the first cultivation done in about a half hour. He will come back and do a fine cultivation when it dries out for a few days. During the winter, I put almost a ton of aged horse manure and the ashes from the fireplace on the garden and all of that was turned into the soil!
On May 1st, we go to a village near here called Clairvivre, which is a gleaming pre WW2 art deco social community for the rehabilitation and education of underpriveleged and troubled people...one of the specialities of Clairvivre is gardening and they have a series of very beautiful art deco greenhouses which are used to raise vegetable starters and the money raised supports the community services. It is also a great source for flowers and shrubs. We always buy at least one new rose there each year. Last year, the plants sat until June. This year, we are ready to have the best garden ever!
Luckily, I had a bottle of Pineau rouge in the cave and gave it to DeDe as thanks for his work. We used to buy all of our wood from him, but in the last few years, he has had a lot of back problems, so he is out of the wood business and I hadn't seen him around most of the winter. He looks pretty good today, though. I think he will be around for quite a few more seasons.
(click on the pictures to enlarge them, there is a lot of great detail)