Friday, November 10, 2023

It has been a wonderful year for figs - if you like figs obviously

We have three fig trees at La Chaise, two either side of the entrance into the Farmhouse barn and a third that just reached over the railing to the terrace alongside my bedroom.  That one had to be severely pruned because it suffered from a classic fig tree pest - of which more later.

The two fig trees you see here are either side of the barn entrance.  One bears black figs, the other has the classic 'white' figs which are actually green. As well as eating them I made some jam - a new recipe which uses red wine - and I also filled two litre glass preserving jars with whole figs in red wine.

The figuiers are the result of two fig sticks that we were given several years ago with the instruction - 'just stick them in the ground' - because they would just grow roots and get on with it.  However, I will admit I did look carefully to see which end was best to shove in the ground.   I judged that fig leaves would grow pushed the other end into the ground.   

BUT it is not only humans who like figs - small birds do as well but one can frighten them away.   The real pest that dissuades human visitors is the hornet and the hornet is very territorial about its figs.  This means no getting figs when the sun light is directly on the trees - the hornets will go for humans even dressed in full protective gear - face mask and helmet, gloves and boots...Finding figs by torchlight is difficult..

This is how the fig trees looked after it was decided no longer toput up with the nuisance of hornets...they had started to come far too close to the main house terrace - a dedicated human space.  One early evening a brave human with a handy chain saw reduced the fig trees to ground level.  But we hope for a more moderate size tree to appear next summer.

And now for why we cut down the fig tree that looked over the terrace of the main house - and looked right into my bedroom.

The great leaves of the untamed fig tree,
Benevolent hands that spread shade
Over the old wooden rocking chair,
Hide the small furry animal beneath.
Immobile it could be a much loved soft toy,
Dark brown with rounded ears,
A small pointy face, shining birght currant eyes,
A yellow bib under its chin.
It looks at me, in bed with tea and a book,
Annoying human in his place....
The sharp teeth bite into the fig
Held between two clawed, destructive paws,
Duck killer, egg stealer, the wild pine-marten.

Monday, November 6, 2023

The unprintable, the unseen, usually rare ...except at La Chaise!

 As I was strolling up to the road, hoping for post in the post box...something strange in the grass caught my eye but not strange enough to stop me in my tracks.   There were several of these strange least ten on the short way to the gate.   See below....pretend to hold your nose because it really is very smelly - unless it is raining.

So I decided to look it up in one of my specialist mushroom luck.   Aaach!   I knew what it was because I have seen it every year in the driveway of La Chaise.  

So, take a deep is the 'phallus impudicus' - and a more descriptive name one cannot imagine. But I was puzzed - not just because this time there were so many - but because none of my specialist mushroom books - all two of them in English - )listed it.  I put the question to Stephanie - (resident expert in all matters plant related) and she came up with the idea that a) it was so rare it would only be in very academic books....and b) its name was too rude to be conveyed to the general, possibly underage, public..  I laughed.
When I went to my local bakery/wine/ etc general store and showed the picture to my friend who has worked there for years - is in fact part owner - her first reaction was:
Oh! a 'morille'...a very prized mushroom indeed (except by me) and I had to disillusion her - but we both laughed...