Thursdays Special ~ Les Quatre Saisons En Rouge et Noir





From top to bottom: winter witch hazel, spring tulips, summer oriental poppy, autumn crab apples.


The flowers on our little witch hazel tree are already brown and shrivelled. It was flowering back in January, and on bleak grey days the ragged clusters of russet petals made it look much like a tree invented by aliens. A welcome sight nonetheless. Otherwise the garden is presently dank and soggy – a scatter of snowdrops and one or two hellebore flowers opening.

But there are other signs of spring – tulips and daffodils shooting up several inches tall, and the oriental poppies making their first leaves. Also the  Evereste crab apple tree which we moved last year, and feared we had killed in the process, is covered in tight little buds; so fingers crossed.

Indoors, I’m fretting to start sowing – packets of seeds, old and new, in piles on the window sills, seed potatoes set out in trays in the conservatory. But it’s all too early to do much outside – the Shropshire soil still too cold and wet for sowing. I’m told by a fellow allotmenteer that the acid test for knowing if the soil is warm enough for growing is to sit on it with your pants down. Yep. Bare bottom pressed to the earth. If you can bear the baring, then it’s OK to plant. But this is not a procedure I could recommend for communal gardens, not unless one’s fellow gardeners are suitably forewarned.

And so, keeping my pants well pulled up, I’m stemming my impatience by starting off globe artichokes, coriander and basil in the kitchen, and nurturing my sweet pea seedlings. They don’t mind the cold conservatory, and probably could go outside now. I shall also sow some leeks in pots, and maybe do the same with beetroot.  And if I were truly organised I could also sort out my seed packets into month order so as not to miss the boat as I did with several things last year.

But it’s all so exciting – another seasons’ round in the offing. More things to learn; more things learned to put into practice. It is, after all, the gardener’s way – to travel hopefully.


Paula’s Thursday’s Special ~ le rouge et le noir

53 thoughts on “Thursdays Special ~ Les Quatre Saisons En Rouge et Noir

      1. Super! Runner beans are almost finished for the season, and I dug up a few Taters the other day.
        Gem-squash-a-plenty, a few spring onions and cabbage, and I planted a few cloves of garlic last week that have shot up with the good rains.
        A couple of varieties of toms I seeded in pots around the pond are doing pretty good and I have picked a few already. Very tasty.
        We have a couple of pumpkins showing positive signs too.
        There is not a lot of each, but more like a sampling of a fairly wide range of stuff. It’s just fun to see what turns up!
        And the chillis are doing stupendously well this year.

        Still trying to get to grips with that no weeding thing you wrote about. There are a ton of weeds and although I am laying down grass cuttings, the weeds seem to find every perishing gap!

      2. This sounds brilliant, Ark. A great variety of stuff too. African weeds are determined entities from what I remember. You probably need tons of cuttings cover. But never mind. Every little helps. Do you hoe the weeds, rather than picking them, cos then they could add to the cover. Just chop em off at the roots and leave them to die.

      3. The problem is we have an awful lot of Blackjacks and they are the Devil’s own to get rid of, because of their seeds. I’m not sure leaving them is the best idea, but I am open to being convinced otherwise

      4. Don’t know Blackjacks, but the seeds sound a pain. Can you catch/hoe them before they start going to seed or are they one of things that are flowering and seeding simultaneously so impossible to find a right moment.

      5. The seeds are like little black splinters with one end splayed and hooked.

        Once the seeds appear it is practically game over.
        I remove them wherever I manage to find them and put them in the bin.I know of no other way. But I will try to catch them before they flower and add them to the ”carpet”.

  1. Before I got to the part where you said you would keep your pants on, I had already had a visual of you sitting naked on a frozen ground cause I imagine you as the most dedicated gardener and grower – should I say grower or a cultivator? Your images never disappoint, but this I did not expect. I did not dare hope that you would be so clever and prompt responding. Beautiful poster effect of “rouge et le noir” in a garden. Drake finds it inspiring and I agree.

    1. What a hoot, Paula, your vision of me with bum on icy wastes. I’m definitely not that dedicated a grower. And I’m so glad you liked my postery post. See what you made me think up, and leading to so much playing with my photos!

  2. Daffodils? Those are precious. A sign of Spring.
    Love your interpretation of “Le rouge et le noir”.
    (Particularly in view of a French Presidential candidate, that “there is no French culture”…)

    1. Hello Brian. And what merde of said candidate to say there is no French culture. We’re watching Andrew Graham-Dixon’s Art of France – first 2 episodes on YouTube – which is showing just how very much of it there is 🙂

      1. And we can’t even exchange politicians. Yours are as bad as ours. 🙂
        (I think they all go to the same secret schools; Davos must be one)
        Bon week-end nonetheless.

  3. Oh, yes, love your interpretation of the challenge – you had fun with this one!
    As for sowing seeds – I can start basil this month then? And sweetpeas? I need to get organised as I too missed planting last year and have a heap of salad stuff to plant. Maybe not quite yet, but the kale is probably ready to come out in the next month. Chives and parsley appear to be on the up. And time to plan the potager properly… and thank you for the chuckle over the bottom baring. Might be warm enough here, but somewhat damp.

    1. Sweet peas definitely to be sown now. Soak overnight, sow indoors and keep inside until germinated, then put them somewhere cooler. Pinch tops out when they have a few side shoots. Basil indoors too. In theory you should be able to grow it indoors all year round, but lack of light can be a problem. Exciting getting the potager going.

      1. I had some basil growing in the conservatory but it died – too cold? No lack of light. Will it be too cold inside the conservatory for the sweet peas? I don’t really have much in the way of windowsills in the house itself.

      2. Sweet peas do quite well in the cold. as well as ones sown recently at the house, I’ve also over-wintered some seedlings in the polytunnel, sown in November. So yours should be fine in the conservatory. Not the basil though. It doesn’t like to shiver.

    1. Thanks, Irene. The garden has its best look in early summer. It’s look a bit unpromising at present. I’m trying to work out how to give it more all round seasonal interest in reality, and not just in my blog post 🙂

  4. When I saw the title of the post, I thought of Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, thinking it ought to be blanc rather than rouge et noir. But, really striking images. Full of admiration for your gardening skills et doigts verts.

  5. Such a hive of industry at yours, Tish! No time for sitting about with bare bums 🙂 🙂 I caught witch hazel in full glow against a blue sky this week but I love what you’ve done with yours. Happy, industrious weekend!

  6. your seasonal round-up is sensationally vivid and probably as red as cold cheeks! Look out for sprouting weeds which is a less audacious sign of soil readiness. Meanwhile keep your seed enthusiasm at bay – it’s not Spring til the fat lady sings

    1. I’m listening out for her, though other half says we’re in for two days of tropical weather next week – that’s enough to cause total gardener confusion. It was pretty warm today too in Shropshire. But I know one can be led astray in Feb – global warming apart. John Clare wrote a very fine poem on the subject. Hope you are making good progress in the recovery department.

      1. oh yes warmer than the Med next week and colder than the Arctic no doubt by March. p.s. am reading Clare’s bio – what is the poem?
        p.p.s. Thanks for the good wishes Tish – am getting some colour back into my cheeks!

      2. It’s ages since I read him, but I think February is in the title. It’s a lovely poem – perfectly captures fickle weather and everyone being fooled by same 🙂

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