At the start of the week was a visit to La Petite Pepiniere in Caunes Minervois, last Sunday, for the annual Open Weekend. Despite all expectations to the contrary, Sunday turned out to be a little wet, but we set off undeterred. Gill Pound who runs La Petite Pepiniere has created the most magnificent garden from a former vineyard, and at 11am she welcomed us for a guided tour of her kingdom. The range of plants is vast, but all are planted with the same aim – to withstand the dry climate and the sometimes cold winter. If you’re a keen gardener a visit is a must, there is much to interest and of course Gill has a great range of plants for sale. Towards the end of our visit a lady came to take a picture of our group – you can find the picture and accompanying article here – yours truly is hidden behind the lady in the purple raincoat!
As part of the open weekend a number of artists and artisans were exhibiting their works over the two days, but because of the rain several had to pack up and leave early. One of the few who stayed was Garth Bowden, who was showing a range of wooden furniture and sculptures. I was particularly taken by his wooden benches, where the surface textures were simply wonderful. After lunch the drizzle stopped and it brightened up a bit. There was much excitement, when a rare orchid (see picture above) was found by one of the visitors, growing near the riverbank.
I treated myself to two plants for my garden, a verbena bonariense, for which I’ve yet to find a spot and an Amicia Zygomeris which is planted and getting established. The rain was good for the garden, and I’ve managed to do a fair bit of weeding and general work. The tomatoes are growing well and need to be tied to their supporting canes. The kiwis have finished flowering and there a good many little furry fruits dangling!! On the grapevines the flowers are incredibly unspectacular, the petals are almost non-existent, but this year’s flowering looks very promising! The air is heavy with the heady perfume from the linden tree outside the garden, and there is a loud buzz from the bees in that tree! Oh, and the raspberries are starting to ripen – always a good sign!!
On the way home from Caunes I found one of the most spectacular fields of poppies ever – so much for me writing that there was not much of a show this year! And the handsome flower-pot-man was found in Caunes Minervois too.
Thursday I made a trip to Lodeve with friends, to explore the town and to visit the Savonnerie carpet workshop. Let’s start with Lodeve: from the middle ages onwards this was an important town for the manufactue of woollen fabrics because of its location and the pure water of the two rivers running through it, and from Louis XIV it received the monopoly for supplying the fabric from which all soldier’s uniforms were made. Booming during war times but poor during peace times. Of course that monopoly did not last, and by 1960 the last mill closed in Lodeve, leading to the decline and depopulation of the town. Go for a walk through the centre – it’s well worth it!! The architectural history is all there, be it the cathedral or humble lanes. One thing which holds much fascination for me are doors and door knockers – Lodeve has a great deal and I could have found many more with a bit more time! The shap of the knockers are only limited by the imagination of the creators: hands (with and without a ring on the ring finger), animal heads, cornucopias, and some incredibly ornate designs. The sad pictures are of the doors where you can see that the knocker has been removed, sometimes stolen, sometimes sold…. but I won’t include any of those here.There are many quirky details, such as the bell-pull on the side of an ancient doorway, and the bell still above the door inside!
And then we found an incredible mural at the end of a little alleyway. The artist really got his perspectives right, from afar it’s difficult to distinguish what is real and what is painted on.
A few more bits and pieces, before I wrap it up for today – I think I know what a Frigoriste is, but what about Ressemelage? I have no idea!!
In the next post I’ll tell you about lunch and the visit to the Manufacture Nationale de la Savonnerie. And before I forget, the riddle photograph from last week showed the leaves of a cyca unfurling!