Denis’ parents are an inspiration too. His mother has created a series of demonstration gardens on the steep slopes of their land, they are open to look round and for guided tours throughout the summer. Les Jardins de Sortilège. Each area is themed with explanations by storyboard, an illustrated booklet and if you take a tour with a guide, in-depth explanations, edible plant tastings and discussions with a friendly guide along the way. There were medieval, medicinal, culinary and ornamental areas, collections of mints, plants for dyeing fabrics and producing fabric. Areas that represented old curates gardens, herbalist gardens and a garden for lovers, a scented leaf geranium collection, several vegetable gardens containing rare and heirloom varieties and most surprising of all, at around 800m altitude in the mountains, a twenty five year old lemon tree, full of fruit, that survives outside with a minimum of protection throughout the year. It gets a plastic corrugated roof in winter and is a picture of health, there must be an amazing microclimate in this tiny corner of the valley. Denis' father is a writer, his subject matter is herbal plants, comestible, wild and useful plants and how to use them, the shop at the gardens is packed with his publications and I could easily have bought a copy of just about all of them.
Working in remote areas of the mountains is all very well, but is doing little to forward our search for land. We chat to folk and spread the word, but as with anywhere out in the countryside, things change slowly and it’ll be by chance that we stumble upon the quantity of land that we need using these methods. That said, the week at Denis was an emergency stopgap after fleeing the previous host in disgust, it turned out to be inspirational, educational and with the work we did, very good exercise too.
the view from my bedroom window
following the garden path
it looks dangerous but does't sting at all, just a plant that used
to be used for dieing fabric.
our work in progress.