Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Garden notes

                                                                                                                                         Photo by 123RF

I got back from Manhattan and got plugged into garden life here.....  The plants grow a foot in a week and I have been busy cutting back in the early morning before the sun gets strong.  The mornings are magical around here and I linger over my coffee on the terrace before I do a thing.

  I pruned two of my three bay trees ( sauces lauriers) as I don't want the trees to get out of control in height and girth.  Once that happens I will have to call in a proper tree trimmer with an electric saw.  I can keep my twenty trees in proportion for my small patch of ground just with a hand held cutter and a ladder.   But truth be told, I have already lost the game with my two cherry trees, the self seeded "fausse poivre"  (pepper tree) and the ornamental plum.

   We always get the tree guy, Pierre Mattera, to come out for the two olive trees on the cliff.  I am not going to risk life and my "limbs" without a harness and the proper tools and neither will I let Monsieur, mon mari.

 The coal tits ( mensonges)  fledged last week while we were watching the nesting box.  It all happens in a very few minutes, so it would have been easy to miss it.   There seemed to be 5 tiny ones although their clutches are usually a lot bigger than that.  They seem expert flyers from the moment they pop  of the nest...such an amazing chance to "mess up" in their world or you'll be cat or hawk lunch.  

Speaking of cats, there are at least 4 who come through our property on a regular basis.  Monsieur with his innocent animal names has called one Earl after Earl Grey for obvious reasons.  We ended up calling the little orange one Mozzi after a Maltese lawyer that K has met.  Its just easier to say and seems to have "taken".

                                                                                                                          Mozzi and Earl Grey

 Then there is "Meercat" a Siamese who has crossed eyes and a narrow wedge-shaped face.  Of course, there is Maddie, the matriarch, Maincoon from next door who puts the fear into Mozzi even though she is much older , crippled and deaf.


 Maddie has real authority and if you were to hear her loud exclamations, you too would stand up and take notice.    Most mornings, Mozzi and Grey have wrestling matches in the yard.   But in the hot sun all the cats disappear and are probably lying in a cool spot under a bush somewhere.

Last week also was the tiny drama of the blackbird who wouldn't stay hidden in the weeds in the field across from us.  Monsieur rescued him and returned him to the care of the parent birds 4 times last week when he wandered out into a street full of cats.

 The parents put up quite a racket when danger is near so its easy to know what is going on. ... but yesterday the Magpies got a hold of the baby..... evil creatures those.    They torment the babies for no reason that I can see, pecking out their eyes, dropping them in the street and then eating at their heads.

 If there is a distasteful bird, its this one...  and yes, I will anthropomorphize all I want, if you please.   Black and white menaces they are to all.... loud and aggressive.    All the other birds do their best to chase the Magpies but they are top of the  pecking order around here....  as huge as crows, very intelligent and wily.  Only the collared doves really have any ability to agitate them a little.  

Today we have a serenade from a cicada, the first time in our lower garden since staying here in Nice.   It is a loud insistent sound with amplification beyond imagining.

This one is just outside in the red leafed, ornamental, plum tree.   Poor chap has so little time to find a mate that he is sawing away with a fervor that I hope lands him a real babe...whatever that means in their world.

 Cicadas have such a "raw deal" otherwise....some species staying in the ground for 17 YEARS before they have a chance to emerge into their short life of mating.    I believe the species in FRance is grubbing around underground from 2-5 years.  There are plenty of "cigales" around the Riviera and so they have become a folkloric symbol for the Mediterranean area.  You see their replicas in every souvenir shop and their images on tablecloths or as a fabric design for various household items.

Yes, we are in the midst of our hottest season down here.  Tourists are piling into town and the beaches are littered with baking bodies and colorful parasols.  Bear breasts and bronzed buttocks are de rigeur.

I have not done the beach yet.     I am lying low.... trying to do my errands in the morning before I lose my nerve to go out there.  And after a lazy lunch,  its the time of year where the locals embrace the idea which I am endorsing wholeheartedly.


  1. Bear breasts?! Oh no! Scary! So that little bird didn't make it? I was afraid he wasn't long for the world. Sad. Beautiful bird and cat pictures though. But please. . ."handicapped" or "paw challenged", not "crippled". She'd be offended.

  2. Oh, that's even better..."bear breasts". I would amend that to Bare breasts and you are right," paw challenged" I like. sorry Maddie.