A walk around the house widdershins

We walk through the porch and turn widdershins, north, and into the shade, past the barn door where tomatoes have set themselves in the compost around the hydrangea, frazzled by the morning sun,


Tomatoe plants

and the well with its old hand pump, water deep, four, five metres now from lack of rain, festooned in ivy and wild irises.


Left, along the north-facing wall, the old barn, window below and shutter on the hayloft above,


windows attic.jpg

and what was once the main door, stuck fast now and patched at the bottom with tin and old planks.


old main door.jpg

Turning south, along the west-facing wall, the passionflower, transplanted from Bordeaux, mown down twice, a stem recovered (twice), rooted and replanted (twice). This stuff is indestructible.



Left again, along the south-facing wall, beneath the study window, like the Gobi Desert. Hollyhocks are hanging on, and the roses planted this year with two cutting of the old vine. Morning glories thrive, but bloom only in the morning.


beneath the study.jpg

Hibiscus grows everywhere here, great luxuriant bushes.


Another vine cutting, happy that the sun has moved around, and nasturtiums that will grow anywhere.


Even the sun-loving plumbago has bleached in the fierce sun this year. From delicate sky blue, they have turned almost white.



A sad cutting of honeysuckle brought from Bordeaux shot into life here and rambles everywhere. A small pot of sage bought on the market is a huge bush now.

sage bay honeysuckle.jpg

Back into the porch where geraniums, basil, bay cuttings and hydrangeas sit in the shade and watch the evening sun bake the meadow grass.

plants in the porch.jpg

Time to water it all now.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

75 thoughts on “A walk around the house widdershins”

  1. Thanks for sharing your part of the world. Widdershins is a great world. It makes me smile. It sounds like someone doing a jig. I imagine the scent of all those flowers and herbs must be wonderful.

    1. I remember reading a folk tale when I was small about the terrible things that happened if you walked widdershins around something or other. The world was full of nasty surprises in those days 🙂
      Everything smells here, the grass, the trees, the plums, the sheep next door….

    1. I have the idea I’m going to take some really artistic shots of old pieces of wood or closeups of flowers, but the old phone isn’t up to it, so I end up taking mediocre snaps.

      1. I know how disheartening it can be. In the Kilmarnock post I’ve just put up, my photos taken on my basic cellphone are very poor compared to Nigel’s – he had his good camera that day. Nigel told me about a free photo editing program called Paint.net and I’m using it all the time now. Just adjusting the ‘curves’ (!) helps a lot, and also brightness/contrast. I’ve adjusted all the images on the Kilmarnock post as the light was horrible for photography that day. If you’d like to try it here’s the link: https://www.getpaint.net/

      2. No, it’s PC only, but I did see that it’s compared to photoshop and the Gimp. I have Gimp, have opened it a few times, looked at it, pressed a few buttons and quietly closed it again. It’s far too complicated for me, I can’t seem to get it to do anything.

      3. I guess you’ve opened Gimp and then opened a photo file. (If you’re nervous of wrecking your photo just make a copy of it first). From there don’t be afraid to ‘play’. I don’t have Gimp but its probably similar to others. Most programs have a ‘history’ display that lists every action you do. If you don’t like what you did, you can just go back a step (or two, or three). To crop your photo, you need to select the part of the image you want to keep and then find “Crop” from the top menu. A really useful adjustment feature is “Curves” because you can use it to fix when the light is wrong. Click in the centre of the line and then drag, and watch how your photo changes! I also use Brightness/Contrast sometimes. You’ll want to find “Resize”. Finally use “Save As” to save your photo as a jpeg. So far that’s all I use 🙂 Just have a play and approach it as a fun thing!

      4. Nigel’s got Gimp on his machine and I can probably look at it tomorrow and see how it works. Wish I could just pop over to your place and we could work it out together but that’s not going to happen! Goodnight from me!

      5. That’s thoughtful of you, Liz, but I don’t have enough patience with these things. If only the people we’d like to spend time with lived closer! Sleep well 🙂

    1. Everything is bleached out. I ought to try getting some photos a bit later in the evening. I wish I had a proper camera. I was trying to get a big mottled lizard that was crashing about in the passiflore but the phone camera isn’t up to it.

      1. My parents come from towns where almost every family has an additional family name so to say by which people reconize you. I left 20 years ago and nb knows me there any more but if I say my maiden name, that is the family’s nickname, everyone will know who my parents, uncles and grand parents are/ were. It’s like a coat of arms.
        My dad’s one is ‘Lizards.’ So I’m like a small lizard. I wonder what that means.

      2. Is that because in any given area you find masses of people with the same name, like a clan name? Wonder why ‘Lizards’? Maybe it means you like basking in the sun, or sleeping through the winter, or you just have an impenetrable gaze that implies you know stuff that goes back to Prehistoric times.

    1. I like the effect 🙂 Almost everything in front of the house is in pots because the ground is too hard to work. The meadow comes up to the walls. We’re getting there though, put a few things in this year.

      1. Raised beds and containers can make a huge difference. A yard is a living thing and takes time to develop. I like doing a little each year and watch it change over time. I bet every plant you brought with you from your other place has a story…

      2. You’re right, about raised beds. That would be ideal but I’m not sure where you get the soil from. Several of the people round here have permaculture going because the soil is just too difficult to work without a tractor.
        You’re right about the stories too. Some of the plants my mother brought back from Spain, planted them in her garden in the north of England, brought cuttings over to our garden when we lived in the north of France, that we brought with us when we moved to Bordeaux and are now here, still in pots though. They deserve a rest!

      3. Do you do composting? It turns kitchen scraps into rich soil. Sounds like there aren’t any garden centers nearby that sell bags of soil, peat moss, vermiculite, etc. You might get a nearby farmer to dump a load of composted manure in your yard. I love plants with stories, or the stories of plants with them.

      4. We have three big compost bins going so we have the compost. It’s the soil would be difficult. It’s all heavy clay for miles around. I think that’s why people opt for permaculture, straw and cardboard and to keep the weeds down. If all you’re interested in is getting a crop of tomatoes I can see how it works, but it looks pretty ugly to me. We probably have enough work on with the meadows, trying to keep them from going to rack and ruin. Who’d have thought it was so easy to destroy an old meadow and its diversity of flowers? Mow at the wrong time, take up the hay too soon, don’t have animals grazing the regrowth, don’t do a second cut….

      5. We’ve only been doing this a couple of years. Before we bought the place it was just five acres of meadow, mown once a year. The old lady (in her nineties) had never had a garden, just cows, and when the cows went around twenty years ago there was nothing but grass and flowers and trees that had set themselves and grown far too close to the house. It looks immense to me. I’d be happy with just a narrow strip for flowers. In theory I’d like to try and bring some of the meadow land into woodland but I’m afraid we’ll just end up with a bramble jungle.

      1. The heat doesn’t help, but it’s always rock hard. It’s very heavy clay and has never been worked. It’s meadow, hasn’t even been grazed for more than twenty years.

    1. It is lovely to look at but very hard to keep under control. There’s too much of it to work without machinery or cattle to graze it. The tiny strip under the walls is all we’ve been able to carve out of the meadows.

  2. What a relief from the heat (via words & pic!) Heard it! Saw it! Felt it! 😊

    “Back into the porch where geraniums, basil, bay cuttings and hydrangeas sit in the shade and watch the evening sun bake the meadow grass.”

    1. I took a few more pictures this morning, different light, cool sun but they’re not brilliant. We only have a tiny bit right up under the walls where we’ve turned a bit of the meadow over, but the ground is too hard to dig except when it’s been very wet, and that hasn’t happened this year.

      1. You’ve made an amazing job of finding the good to capture there is then; we have a similar challenge summers here in Austin; swings erratically, but beautiful when it is nice 😊

      2. This summer has been hard on the trees and the wildlife. The farmers hive off the water at the head of the stream and only spring water keeps a little trickle running through it at our end.

      3. Small landowners afraid of going out of business. Agriculture is very small scale in these parts. It used to be essentially small dairy herds but most of them have converted to arable, selling their production to big groups who give them a program of irrigation and fertilisation to follow or they won’t take the crop. The worst offender is corn. It’s unsuitable for the climate, needs a lot of water that we don’t have, and only goes for animal feed anyway.

      4. I love corn, but there’s so many other places it can grow really well; we see it on roadsides all over here in Texas, well maybe not west Texas 🙂 In Vermont, my wife’s home state, they’ve gotten really creative, like using sheep to mow the grass on vineyards, helps multiple folks!

      5. Sheep make good mowing machines and they fertilize too 🙂 Corn isn’t part of the culinary tradition here. Nobody eats it, it’s just for animal feed.

    1. It’s a very old place, picturesque even but it doesn’t have anything in the way of modern conveniences (like a bath or proper electricity) and never will have. The pump, the farmer across the way assures us works, you just have to pump a lot before it starts to do anything. Husband is sceptical and uses a bucket.

    1. It’s what you’d call ‘unspoilt’. Only very poor people have lived in it. It was that that drew us to it in the first place. It’s a house that was dragged into the twentieth century and isn’t going any further.

    1. There’s no culture here either. If we had any closer neighbours we’d probably hate it—barbecues, parties, and of course from next weekend we have the opening of the hunting season…

      1. It’s a social thing. Lack of inspiration, motivation, money, inertia… People do the same sort of things everywhere if they don’t have the means to do what the rich do—go to the coast at the weekends.

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