Saturday, July 27, 2013

Garden notes: Cycas Revoluta

I have three ( now four) Cycas or Sago palms (as they are called in English) . They aren't actually palms though.  They are known as living fossils as they are among the oldest plants recorded on earth.  
Cycas Revoluta does well in the drought conditions of the Mediterranean.
There is a male and female even in plants.   This is the female Cycas revoluta and not long ago I cut back all but a few of the new babies called "pups" that come up around the trunk of the female plant.  

They take a bit of attention to cultivate and I have only succeeded in rooting one which is thriving now in a pot . 

Here it is in its first home.

  I guess there is no guessing which is the male of my three plants.  

 Reproduction happens after 10 years of growth and has been going on for the last several years with mine .

Pollination will occur with birds and insects and then there will be more "pups" under the females.  

This is the first year that we have seen such a display of Cycas manhood, though. 

And this is new growth from the female that happened in spring.  The only danger (other than over- taking the garden in scale) is that the Cycas Revolta is poisonous to pets and humans if ingested.   

 But it not really very inviting to munch on with it's stiff spiky fronds so I have decided it's not a danger to Mozzi.  (He only sprays the plants. I haven't seen him eating any).

Here below is the glorious Flamenco Trumpet Vine , in full bloom at the moment.  I planted it in memory of my father who hailed from Virginia.  I remember seeing this vine growing wild along the roadsides near Richmond when I visited there as a child of nine.  Funny what we remember.


Well, you can see that I have tweaked my blog.  Since I have a goal in mind to visit South Carolina and Georgia this October( where there is lots of great food)  I have cut out chocolate to get down to "fighting weight".   I won't be much of a fight though to get me to eat a Georgia peach or southern fried chicken.

So to honor my gone but not forgotten "drug of choice"  I have put the color chocolate into my new design.
  I think part of the fun of having a blog is to change it, re-think the design sometimes... like people do with hairstyles.
 I changed the font to "Georgia" for now too....  seems propitious.

I had just over 1400 hits on my blog last month. Those who are in the know tell me that a lot of these are machines... but even if half of them are people , I am pleased to have these readers. 

 My  readers are in France, then USA, then Russia and next Germany and a few from everywhere else where English is spoken including the Netherlands and then ...there are a lot of hits from Latvia.  Odd that.

I missed out on some post opportunities recently In the garden, the hydrangeas and petunias were in all their glory with that magnificent violet blue.

    There is something new happening to the Cycas though, so I will go out now and grab some images so you can see what I mean.  See you later. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hot Town

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head...  

  Summer in the City by "Lovin' Spoonful"

Photo MMP

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Photo MMP

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Photo MMP

Monday, July 15, 2013

Feasting in France

It is rare that ex-pats get invited to the lavish food marathons that take place in France a la "Babette's feast".... but the lore is there and most of us know that this is common.  

 Many French holiday meals or even weekend family meals take on the same "forever" quality that our own Thanksgiving meal is known for.  It is not uncommon to attend an evening meal that starts at 6pm , and goes on until 3 am, with many courses being consumed one after another. 

 Sometimes, I've heard the whole thing starts all over again for breakfast or the following meal.  It is considered a shame to be a "party pooper" and exit the festivities early.  No self respecting Frenchman would dare do so.  So in for a penny.....

Yesterday , Monsieur and I were invited, along with 20 other guests, to partake of a rare Chinese/French barbecue....... which I would say surpasses even the ordinary French " grande bouffe".  
Protein galore, baby back ribs

The setting was a fine house and garden , there was only one child,  charming 4 year old, Hippolyte, and an epileptic bulldog (They have to bring him everywhere because of his malady) named Fiston who was twice pulled off of the barbecue.  

    The first course around the pool was Sangria, fois gras toasts and marinated salmon.   

After all had introduced themselves and oiled themselves with Sangria, we sat down to an immense table in the shade and were served a half  lobster each. 

 That singular treat was followed by beef kabobs, and carrot salad.  

After a time, came platters of lamb and these were served with bowls of rocket leaves with an Asian vinaigrette. 

Rocket salad

Next came the baby back pork spare ribs.  By this time I was seriously pacing myself while enjoying the conversation on all sides.    With that course, came bowls of Chinese noodles.  Whoa. 

Beyond my umpteenth glass of rosé,  Champagne was poured and several home-made lemon tarts were produced from the kitchen.     This tart was quite delicious and my favorite pastry.   I couldn't refuse a slice.

Then to honor the French, all but four of us,  out came an enormous wheel of Camembert with baguettes.  By this time I was abstaining, as you may well imagine, and drinking water... but not so the others who helped themselves to pie sized slices of cheese.  

But that was not all.  Dark red cherries, chunks of watermelon, and nectarines were then served along with traditional sesame seed/ peanut candy!   And lots more champagne.  We continued thus as if programmed and I can't say it was too difficult. 

To finish the going into it's 7th hour, came home-mixed "Limoncello",  more champagne  and coffee.  (Limoncello is a common after- dinner drink that most people here in the South make each year from their local bitter lemons. )  

My claim to fame at this point was to start the group singing "Le Marseilles" the French national anthem!  Brother Roge taught me to sing it at a young age one summer when he gave the local kids a French class.   

It is always a show stopper and everyone is astonished that I know the words as I do.   The host had us standing up and raising our glasses throughout.

 But after all, it was Bastille Day and a feast of these proportions deserves a rousing song.  It was  an excellent way to spend an afternoon. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Photo maniac

We are right in the middle of the "high" season.  There doesn't seem to be as many tourists as usual for this time of year.  Even my studio is empty for the moment. 

It's hot but with little breezes from time to time throughout the day.  Time to open up the windows and doors early in the morning and then shutter them off for the day. 

 And its in summer that I want to stay inside between eleven and four o'clock.....too hot out. 

My house guests have just left, I've cleaned up and I have a little "créneau" now to put a few more photos up that Roge and I took while he was here. 

My friend calls me a photo maniac but there are so many lovely corners on the Azure Coast..... that I'm smitten. 

 But I must desist and make a big green salad and some smoked trout for lunch.  It's summertime.... 

Italianate frieze, Cimiez  photo MMP

Anglican church, photo MMP

Altar, Cours Saleya,  photo JRP

Cours Saleya  photo JRP

Old town winter, photo JRP

Place Massena, photo JRP

House detail,  photo JRP

FRom the bus window Villefrance market,  photo JRP

photo JRP

From the bus window, Villefranche, photo JRP

Monestary of Cimiez photo MMP

Brother Roge at Jules Cheret museum  photo MMP

Detail frame at Beaux Arts museum  photo MMP

Painting copy by Angelo Garino along the Promenade des Anglais, winter photo JRP
Villa Kerylos,  photo JRP

Detail Villa Kerylos, photo JRP

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wild flowers of the Mediterranean

I am trying to identify these wild flowers that I saw on the hillside the other day in the Var.  But without a proper book, I am at a loss.  Can anyone add any names....preferably common ones?  

The one in the upper right covered by a young oak sapling, may be the "broom" family

Broom with a opalescent bluebell? 
 I know the yellow "broom" is everywhere, large and small flowers.  One of these is what the french call "Genet d' Espagne.  My little book says that there are 20 species in the Mediterranean. 

I know that is wild "honey suckle" at the upper right.

This may be a young plant from rose family and I don't know the grasses either.

I think the white daisy-like shape is "Camomile" and the pink blossoms in the young oak leaves is wild pea.

Lots of little white flowers everywhere. This guy "blended" so nicely.

No idea.

I would say a "wild pea".  I don't know the tiny whitish ones.

Some kind of thistle called a "Chardon" in french

Again, no idea of the name of these pretty little blue flowers.

Don't know....

I know this is wild sage and I would say the roses at left are "cultivated".

I think this is " Queen Anne's Lace"

This may be some kind of dogwood or wild rose

There are three or four different flowers here but I have no ideas.  Do you?

So you want my picture.....

Honey is sleeping and I get closer...

Honey: "So is this a good pose?"

"How about this ?"

"Alright, alright.... I'll look at the camera, satisfied?

"Don't pose, act natural?   How about this? "