From the very start we had decided to call our French hideaway Les Lavandes, this being (we thought) the French equivalent of Lavender Cottage. The fact that there was not a single lavender plant in the courtyard did not deter us as we planned o plant our own anyway.
Mrs S thought it would rather a nice touch if we had tubs each side
of the two doors, the main front door and the one from the living room,
and planted these up with lavender. We duly purchased four large,
wooden tubs, not too dissimilar from half barrels but considerably
cheaper, which I transported to France with everything else. I drew the
line at buying compost in England as it was readily available not too
far from the house, but the lavender plants did come from England.
had very high hopes for those plants as we had discovered, when staying
with Gary and Wendy, that plants in the area grew very quickly and to a
much larger size than they did in England. I was, of course, to find
this with our neighbour's vegetables. Although neither of us is blessed
with green fingers or much horticultural savvy, we could see no reason
why the spring would not be a good time for planting lavender, and
proceeded to put four or five plants in each tub. I even photographed
our efforts after the planted tubs had been placed in position.
was as well that I did take those photographs, as they very soon became
the only evidence that we had ever had lavender beside the doors. When
we returned some six weeks after planting up the tubs, all the plants
looked decidedly sick. They looked so sick, in fact, that I would have
consigned them all to the tip without a second thought. But not my
better half. Despite her record of killing off every parsley plant on
our kitchen windowsill within three days of purchase, she decided to
attempt a rescue and nurse those poorly lavender plants back to health.
The plan was to replant the lavender in the borders, some plants
along the front of the borders on either side of the gates, and the
remainder at the edge of the third border so people would pass them on
their way to the front door. First, the ground had to be prepared. This
involved clearing the appropriate areas of dead leaves, weeds, and any
plants which might have had the temerity to spend the winter months
resting peacefully where the lavender was due to go. It took three bin
liners to hold all the leaves, weeds, plants and assorted litter that
were cleared – and that was just from the edges of the borders.
the sickly lavender plants had to be removed from the tubs. So careful
was Mrs S not to damage the roots, it must have taken her the better
part of a morning to extract them. Suitable holes were prepared to
receive them, and I swear that no new mother ever laid her precious baby
down more gently than those lavender plants were put into their beds! A
mixture of compost and soil was used to fill the holes, this being put
in almost as gently as the plants themselves had been. The final part
of the proceedings was to spray the plants with a fine mist. I was
quite happy to tip a couple of buckets of water over the plants, but no,
we had to use an empty perfume spray so that the plants would not be
I have to say that I remained sceptical,
extremely sceptical. But, as happens so often with Mrs S, she proved me
wrong. Well, partly wrong. About a third of the plants never did
recover, but the remainder flourished so well that we considered
inviting a perfume manufacturer round to harvest the flowers. And even now, several years later, those plants are going strong.
You can just see some of the healthy plants in this picture of one of the borders.