Sunday 12 March 2006

The Great Primrose Hunt

All over Normandy the hedgerows are springing thick with dainty yellow primroses reflecting the weak winter sun. In fact in the warmer west they've been out since December but that's not important right now. Surely, on our wildlife haven and untouched paradise there would be plenty of these delightful little wild flowers to brighten the boundaries.


Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you but there's nothing very obvious so I set off to beat the bounds and track them down.

The walk around the edge of out 9.5 ha is about 2km according to some back of an envelope calculations made last year. Primroses are fond of the hedges, nestle on banks and eschew the stronger light. If there were going to be any they would be colonising the borders of the forest.

I think they must be deer food. I saw nary a one despite most carefully inspecting each metre of way, no flowers, no leaves. Other plants were present if not abundant. Broom and Butcher's broom, gorse, foxgloves near the haybarn and a lone euphorbia which I have yet to identify precisely. It's disappointing. I doubt there are bluebells in the wood and if there are no primulas either then spring will be sadly lacking its usual prettinesses.

Waiting for the water man I started to dig the area allocated for herbs. I managed to clear a patch of about 4 sq. metres and covered a further area with some black plastic salvaged from the barn. I was pleased to find that the earth turned easily and there were no obvious buried bones or cess pits. It should make a fine herb garden when planted up and I must take inventory of the plants propagated and destined for export.

From Ouville's front garden I transplanted four oak trees to La Rupallerie's hedgerows. Three were placed in the line where we plan to re-establish a hedge that has been destroyed over time and the last into the boundary hedge with next door. I hope they will survive, oak trees don't like being moved much although we have successfully replanted a couple before. The cold weather is actually a benefit from this point of view, keeping the trees sleepy and sedated during the trauma.

While I was digging them up I dislodged a clump of primroses and took them with me to remedy the lack in the forest. I feel it's important not to disrupt the local environment too much or too quickly and since there is a small garden by the main house with a few cultivated plants of hydranga, camellia and iris along with the obligatory bay tree I decided to pop them into the contained area with the other exotics. And then I found the other primrose!

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