And now, the lilac tree.

Lilac tree at Bastide les Amis, Luberon

Lilac tree at Bastide les Amis, Luberon

Syringa vulgaris (lilac or common lilac) is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae, native to the Balkan Peninsula, where it grows on rocky hills. This species is widely cultivated as an ornamental and has been naturalized in other parts of Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, etc.) as well as much of North America. It is not regarded as an aggressive species, found in the wild in widely scattered sites, usually in the vicinity of past or present human habitations.

This time it is the turn of the rape seed.

A field of rape seed near Saint Pantaleon

A field of rape seed near Saint Pantaleon

Rapeseed (Brassica napus), also known as rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed (and, in the case of one particular group of cultivars, canola), is a bright-yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family), consumed in China as a vegetable. The name derives from the Latin for turnip, rāpa or rāpum, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century. Older writers usually distinguished the turnip and rape by the adjectives ’round’ and ‘long’ (-‘rooted’), respectively.

B. napus is cultivated mainly for its oil-rich seed, the third-largest source of vegetable oil in the world.

The newest floral gems to blossom are the Wisteria. Everywhere!

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Wisteria (also spelled Wistaria or Wysteria) is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae, that includes ten species of woody climbing vines native to the Eastern United States and to China, Korea, and Japan. Some species are popular ornamental plants, especially in China and Japan. An aquatic flowering plant with the common name wisteria or ‘water wisteria’ is in fact Hygrophila difformis, in the family Acanthaceae.

The botanist Thomas Nuttall said he named the genus Wisteria in memory of Dr. Caspar Wistar (1761–1818). Questioned about the spelling later, Nuttall said it was for “euphony,” but his biographer speculated that it may have something to do with Nuttall’s friend Charles Jones Wister, Sr., of Grumblethorpe, the grandson of the merchant John Wister. (Some Philadelphia sources state that the plant is named after Wister. As the spelling is apparently deliberate, there is no justification for changing the genus name under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. However, some spell the plant’s common name “wistaria”, and Fowler is decisively for the “wistaria” spelling.

Wisteria, especially Wisteria sinensis, is very hardy and fast-growing. It can grow in fairly poor-quality soils, but prefers fertile, moist, well-drained soil. They thrive in full sun. Wisteria can be propagated via hardwood cutting, softwood cuttings, or seed. However, specimens grown from seed can take decades to bloom; for this reason, gardeners usually grow plants that have been started from rooted cuttings or grafted cultivars known to flower well. Another reason for failure to bloom can be excessive fertilizer (particularly nitrogen). Wisteria has nitrogen fixing capability, and thus mature plants may benefit from added potassium and phosphate, but not nitrogen. Finally, wisteria can be reluctant to bloom because it has not reached maturity. Maturation may require only a few years, as in Kentucky Wisteria, or nearly twenty, as in Chinese Wisteria. Maturation can be forced by physically abusing the main trunk, root pruning, or drought stress.

A well known Wisteria in Cavaillon - in a few months time, this is huge.

A well known Wisteria in Cavaillon – in a few months time, this is huge.

Wisteria can grow into a mound when unsupported, but is at its best when allowed to clamber up a tree, pergola, wall, or other supporting structure. Whatever the case, the support must be very sturdy, because mature Wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems. These will certainly rend latticework, crush thin wooden posts, and can even strangle large trees. Wisteria allowed to grow on houses can cause damage to gutters, downspouts, and similar structures. Its pendulous racemes are best viewed from below.

Wisteria flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year’s growth, so pruning back side shoots to the basal few buds in early spring can enhance the visibility of the flowers. If it is desired to control the size of the plant, the side shoots can be shortened to between 20 and 40 cm long in mid summer, and back to 10 to 20 cm in autumn. Once the plant is a few years old, a relatively compact, free-flowering form can be achieved by pruning off the new tendrils three times during the growing season; in June, July and August, for the northern hemisphere. The flowers of some varieties are edible, and can even be used to make wine. Others are said to be toxic. Careful identification by an expert is strongly recommended before consuming this or any wild plant.

The first poppies are out! Now to find a few poppy fields!

The first poppies are out! Now to find a few poppy fields!

Cherry blossoms with Ménerbes framed in the background

Cherry blossoms with Ménerbes framed in the background

Wisteria Spring beauty in Ménerbes

 

Wild spring flowers overlook the Luberon Valley from the Ménerbes ramparts

Wild spring flowers overlook the Luberon Valley from the Ménerbes ramparts

 

Cherry blossom time

Cherry blossom time

 

Tiny old Church on the hilltop near Ménerbes

Tiny old Church on the hilltop near Ménerbes

Top of the desirability index

Top of the desirability index

 

Vew of the Parc Gautier - an aggregation of many stalls and marquees packed with antiques and collectibles

Vew of the Parc Gautier – an aggregation of many stalls and marquees packed with antiques and collectibles

 

More of the Parc with the Music School in the background

More of the Parc with the Music School in the background

 

'Vintage' cooldrink cases - good ideas for planters

‘Vintage’ cooldrink cases – good ideas for planters

 

Bric a brac and the Michelin man

Bric a brac and the Michelin man

 

Collectibles

Collectibles

 

White asparagus freshly trimmed and reayd to cook.

White asparagus freshly trimmed and reayd to cook.

 

Apart from the cherry blossoms and the general awakening of the fauna and flora, Springtime is asparagus time! Local farmers plant several rows of the white and green vegetable and locals are able to buy these direct from the farm for much less than in the supermarkets.

Something about the humble asparagus..

Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC. In ancient times, it was also known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans even froze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus created the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. A recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third-century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.

Green asparagus, fresh from the soil

Green asparagus, fresh from the soil

The ancient Greek physician Galen (prominent among the Romans) mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb during the second century AD, but after the Roman empire ended, asparagus drew little medieval attention until al-Nafzawi’s The Perfumed Garden. That piece of writing celebrates its (scientifically unconfirmed) aphrodisiacal power, a supposed virtue that the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to “special phosphorus elements” that also counteract fatigue. By 1469, asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries. Asparagus appears to have been hardly noticed in England until 1538, and in Germany until 1542.

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The finest texture and the strongest and yet most delicate taste is in the tips. The points d’amour (“love tips”) were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour. Asparagus became available to the New World around 1850, in the United States.

At last, now we're starting to eat local produce!

At last, now we’re starting to eat local produce!

 

Madame is having loads of fun in her back garden

Madame is having loads of fun in her back garden

 

We know that Spring is here when the fake oilves start to shine in the evening dusk.

We know that Spring is here when the fake oilves start to shine in the evening dusk.

 

Masses of wild and cultivated irises are starting to appear.

Masses of wild and cultivated irises are starting to appear.

 

"The Valley"

“The Valley” – this time looking from Saignon towards the Vaucluse Mountains

 

A lovely example of ancient craftsmanship on a wall near Saignon.

A lovely example of ancient craftsmanship on a wall near Saignon.

 

 

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