Tomorrow the big Tour, or drug addicts on bikes as we like to call them, is coming through my region. This is a very big event for the Cantal known up to now for its cheese and not much else. The local paper is obsessing on the fact that being a “ville d’arrivée” means that cash dispensers at the banks are emptied more quickly. Maybe some cycling fans will be buying cheese, there’s little else to spend money on.
One thing Aurillac does well is its municipal planting. For a small town they are very adventurous and I have pinched planting ideas from them. The combination of Ricinus, Cleome and Cosmos is one I’ve not yet tired of. Last year they even had edibles in with the flowers on the roundabouts. The hanging baskets outside the Mairie had Ipomoea batatas “Blacky” and “Lime” with Euphorbia Diamond Light and I’ve got a couple the same now.
We moved to the region in 1999 and to our present house in 2001. To quote the Black Fingernail, I’m a woman with altitude, all 900 metres of it. This means gardening with long, harsh winters, lots of snow –though less and less – and usually a short but real summer. This has presented many a challenge, they don’t label plants very well here and “rustique” covers a fair bit of the thermometer. I’m stubborn though and have succeeded in keeping a Ceanothus Repens but had to abandon the idea of ever having a Gunnera after three casualties.
We bought the house from an old couple, he had fingers in many a tarte but was known in the town for – selling cheese! This was their country residence where they spent the summer, the rest of the year they lived all of 16km away in Aurillac. That meant it was a garden planted for one season. The lady of the house, reputed for her gardening skills, was what was once described by an Anglo French designer as a plonker! There were beautiful stone troughs plonked on the lawn amidst plonked trees and beds. Every inch of vegetation had been shaped into squares, “boules” or lollipops and you could eat your truffade off the flat tops of the hedges. My first mission was always to mess everything up!