Wednesday, September 23, 2015
still-sound 218. The Garden
The garden in La Redorte didn't always look like this. In fact this is an 'after' picture. I didn't think to take a 'before' picture because I was focused on clearing out the wild jungle that had emerged in the year since I last visited the house in France. Brennan and I were motivated to take the project on. We both love plants and enjoy the physicality of gardening - but when we first arrived at the house and found that we couldn't walk very far into it because of these enormous vines bearing tiny purple berries that blocked every path, we knew the job would present no shortage of challenges.
First we ordered two 'big bags' of gravel. Each 'big bag' bears one ton of rocks. I suppose the French like to say 'beeg bag' rather than 'grand sac', at least those in the building profession. Les big bags arrived on a flat bed truck that barely fit down the tiny road. The operator of the truck controlled the crane from a remote control unit hanging from his neck. The movements were fluid, precise and controlled. I feel such an operation would never happen in LA but for some reason, in rural France, it seemed to be no problem. When the driver finished and the sacks were positioned by the front door, I said to him "Quel spectacle! Je suis vraiment impressione!" to which he replied "C'est d'habitude." Piece of cake. Piece of gateau...
Brennan and I transported the four tons of gravel one wheelbarrowful at a time. We created ramps to go up and down stone walkways. We had to replace the wheel once. We went to bed sore every night. We used stones left over from earlier projects where holes were knocked out of the three foot thick walls of the house to create a new door and a larger window from the kitchen. They become borders along the edges of the new planted areas. We created a planter in the front garden with the stones and filled it with jasmine. The climbing jasmine is a variety named after the city of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. The few blossoms that still opened in September released an intense, beautiful scent.
We made a raised circle in the center of the back garden and planted a mature olive tree. We lined the back border with pink oleander which will hopefully grow substantially and become a privacy screen. We filled the rest of the new spaces, enriched with bagged soil with verbena, plants that look like Russian sage but are not, rosemary, blue fescue grass and a highly fragrant rose.
After we completed the garden, Brennan and I used any moment we could find to sit on the cafe chairs, drink wine and notice the sound of the breeze through the leaves and the perfume of the fig tree filling the air.