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Last weekend I planted more bulbs and corms - I say that because every year I plant hundreds. We have been here almost three years now so this is year three of the current bulb planting regime and the pattern is something like this.

Year One: plant a moderate amount of what you like where you would like them to be.

During Year One - watch how they flower and whether they really do live up to expectations. If you have bought bulbs and corms of reasonable quality then they almost always put on a fantastic display in that first year, because, basically, you have planted ready packed flowers.


Year Two: be a bit more experimental and plant something different, somewhere else.

During Year Two - watch how Year Two's bulbs flower BUT ALSO observe how Year One's bulbs have got one...do they come back in profusion in the second year or are they dwindling.


Year Three (i.e. me, this year): Increase the planting of the Year One bulbs which thrived, plus try a few more adventurous bulbs.

During Year Three.....well you get the picture.


In this way, supplemented by  bulbs' natural tendency to spread if they are happy, you build up a carpet of contented plants which look after themselves for years to come. But first....

Bulbs and corms in a nutshell, as it were.

Bulbs and corms differ in how they store the food photosynthesised in the leaves. Bulbs are basically the swollen bases of the previous year's leaves with the embryo of the next year's flower hidden in the middle. Each year the changing seasons trigger the development of new leaves and flowers and the plant may also reproduce vegetatively by developing new baby bulblets at the side.





Crocus corms ready for planting



Corms are slightly different in that they are swollen underground sections of the plant stem. Each year a new corm develops above last year's corm and you can also get secondary corms developing, again as the plants reproduce vegetatively. This is why it is so important not to remove the leaves of bulbs and corms until they have died back naturally. They need to have the maximum opportunity to store reserves of food for the following year. If they do not get this they can shrivel and die. You can also help the following year's bulbs develop by feeding them with a sprinkling of bone meal after the flowers, but not the leaves, have died back.


In Year One here I planted daffodils at the bottom of the garden - they are not doing brilliantly, despite the region being renowned for its wild daffodils. I think the area I chose may be too dry, so none have been planted there this year while I watch the progress of those already in situ for a bit longer. I had planted Narcissus obvallaris, which is found growing in the wild in the UK and which resembled the wild daffodils growing locally, so I am disappointed at their performance, but maybe they take a few years to establish or maybe that particular corner of the garden is simply too hostile.


I also planted Crocus Tommasinianus (this is a corm, not a bulb); a crocus which naturalises fantastically well in grass or borders if it is happy - and it is flourishing here, so last week I planted another 100 of them.



Crocus tommasinianus naturalised in grass - year one.



I also planted Muscari armeniacum, or grape hyacinths. These are doing so well they promise to become a menace, so I have bought another 100 of those too. They will be planted differently however - the crocus is planned to develop into drifts of purple which will flower under deciduous trees each February, while the Muscari  will be dotted in little groups around the borders to act as accents of colour in early spring. The experimental thing I am planting this year is a small daffodil called Narcissus tete-a-tete. This will be planted like the Muscari in small clumps dotted under deciduous trees in a bed which hosts shade loving plants for most of the year. I will see how it does compared to the daffodils planted in year one.


Year One also saw me planting Eranthys hyemalis, the yellow flowering winter aconite. This is best not planted at this time of year, when it is a dormant bulb, but in January/February when it has leaves on it ( known as 'in the green'). It did well last year and if it comes up again this winter I shall order some more shortly after Christmas. The other bulb/corm I plant in the green is the snowdrop and Cyclamen hederifolium. I planted these in Year Two, so will watch to see how they do this year and if they prosper will add to the collection. Cyclamen, snowdrops and aconites are wonderful and deserve a blog of their own, which I will try to remember to write in January/February.


This year's experimental planting was to have been Martagon lilies, but I spent so long wondering which one to get that by the time I went to my bulb supplier they had sold out......a lesson learned and a year's growth wasted.


The other thing I always plant is the tulip. My personal favourites are Apricot Parrot, Spring Green, Greenland and Princess Irene but there are hundreds of varieties to choose from and it is worth experimenting. In year one they go into pots. Then I either  leave the leaves to die back then take the bulbs out of the pots and keep them dry until about now when they go into the ground somewhere in the garden or I un-pot them as soon as they have flowered and transfer the clump straight into the ground. Year two is a bit pot luck, as it were, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, but it is always fun and there is always next year when I can try something new.....



Tulips 'Spring Green' and 'Apricot Parrot' together with lily of the valley.

And how will it affect us........ Foreign Currency Direct's Amelia Spencer gives us her view on what could happen and why when the Governor of the Bank of England meets with his colleagues in November to discuss whether or not to raise the interest rate, and what you might be able to do to mitigate any possible losses.


The Pound received a major boost towards the end of September, following from numerous hints from the Bank of England that an increase in Interest Rates in the UK could be seen as early as November. This has meant that interbank GBP/EUR rates have fluctuated by over 5% over the course of September, and clients purchasing Euros have potentially saved themselves over £9,000 on a €200,000 purchase if timed at the highest point of the month.

The general consensus is that there is a 50% chance of a rate hike at the next Bank of England Interest Rate meeting in November, however this is purely based on indications from Governor Mark Carney, rather than concrete facts. If October brings a wave of poor UK economic data and/or the bank decide to keep rates on hold, we could see Sterling drop back down to the near 10 year lows witnessed just a month ago. If, however, the bank do decide to raise rates in November, this could create further losses for clients selling properties to repatriate their funds back to the UK. Add into the equation the ongoing topic of Brexit negotiations, which are still hanging in the balance, the next month could prove a particularly volatile one for both buyers and sellers alike.

Here at Foreign Currency Direct, our team of helpful traders have an average tenure of over 8 years and are perfectly positioned to help you to time your transfer to help you to get the most for your money. One option available to our clients is to secure your currency through the use of a Forward Contract, which allows you to book the whole amount required at today’s exchange rate, for just a small deposit.

If you would like to hear more about how we can help with transferring currency for buying or selling a French property, or for any other currency requirements, please click here to open a free, no obligation account with us, and a member of our team will be in touch.



Today we have received a Brexit update from France Property Guide which we want to share. This is what they said:


If you are living in France before the UK formally leaves the EU by March 2019, then your right to live there permanently will be protected. That was the clear message from the EU as it outlined its negotiating position ahead of Brexit talks.

This week the European Union (EU) formally established its desire to guarantee the basic rights of British citizens living in the EU. So long as the UK agrees to protect the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, as Theresa May has repeatedly said she will, then we should be okay to continue looking to buy a home and live in France without the need for visas or other restrictions for the foreseeable future.

In its directive, the EU says that the rights and status of British citizens should be a key priority in all future negotiations because there are so many people affected by Brexit. It seems that citizens’ rights are right at the top of the agenda when it comes to general future discussions and the EU also states that the rights should be reciprocal between British people and citizens of the EU’s 27 other member states.

In particular they say that the status and rights from EU law at the time of Britain withdrawing from the EU (proposed for March 2019) should be protected, including rights to pensions and healthcare. They suggest that the rights should include residence in their adopted country including access to healthcare and social security plus education and training to be available just as it is for nationals.


While no deal between the UK and the EU will be a done deal until everything is finally signed and the ink is dry - which could be a very long time, it is good new to see that not only is the EU is putting citizens concerns at the top of the agenda, but also that they are suggesting that should you buy a house in France before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 your rights to live in the EU will be permanently protected.

So come on buyers - now is the time to make the move. The sun is shining and French property is very attractively priced. Register with us and we will send you weekly details of new listings as well as any price reductions which have taken place. What are you waiting for?


May is the month of the jour férié in France with public holidays almost weekly, but it is also the month that gardens really start to bloom. After the spring warmth and rains but before the scorching heat of summer the three favourite French plants are in bloom - irises, roses and peonies. It is also the best time for the many garden openings and plant fairs across the country. So for inspiration here are some gorgeous gardens we are marketing at the moment:

In Lot et Garonne, an elegant Italianate garden with a magnificent iris walk.

Click here to read more: http://tinyurl.com/ja5khn9

Stunning views across the Dropt valley on one side and a sensational chateau on the other, this is an exceptional property in and exceptional setting

If something more discrete is to your liking - how about a hidden courtyard garden in Hérault?  - 

Read more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/nlqwybf


A favourite of mine, because it blends so seamlessly and naturally into the magnificent surrounding scenery is this prairie style garden in the Lot

Read more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/jgc4avh


Finally - a garden for the romantic in Tarn et Garonne. This atmospheric garden has even featured in a book on romantic French gardens recently. 


Read more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/zdfh8sg


As for me - on Monday, which is a holiday in honour of la victoire de 1945, I will be at our local annual plant fair in Monsegur, Gironde. Read more about it and other things relating to gardens in France in our sister blog here: Diary of a Jardin Paysan

Have a great gardening weekend - Sue



Is the political uncertainty all getting a bit too much? Fed up with the number of elections, referendums and the general turmoil? Want to escape the masses.......? Well you could always move to La France Profonde and become as close to self sufficient as you can.

One thing France has a lot of is land - vast tracts of unspoilt countryside and a climate which varies greatly from north to south and east to west. Rural land is also incredible value compared to the heavily populated UK and farming and small scale food production have a much higher status here. So what better place to live if you want to own a smallholding. Here are three options we are currently marketing:


A luxurious 5 bedroom house with swimming pool and up to 4 hectares of land available (half a hectare is included in the guide price of 475000€), this property has a cattle or equestrian barn, chicken house, glass house and is walking distance from a very popular village with shops and services in Lot et Garonne. You have the choice - a very comfortable good life, a luxurious permanent or holiday home or something between the two.

The current owner kept cattle, chickens and had a potager, see the photo of her beloved Bazas cow and calf below. See more about this house and its potential  here


If you want to supplement your income with a gite to rent out then have a look at this house with gite, two swimming pools and enough land for a big vegetable patch and chickens and bees. You will find it hidden in the heart of the Lot department.

At 390000€ it has two paddocks, stabling for a donkey and the owners also keep doves. There is even a small patch of woodland so you can harvest your own heating fuel for when all the lights go out. Read more about this house here


Finally, in truly rural Indre, approximatley 270 kilometres south of Paris we have this great not-so-little property on the market at 139000€. The house has three bedrooms and a lovely open barn attached to one side which the owners use as a summer kitchen for those lovely long, warm summer evenings.

With just under a hectare of land it has established fruit trees, outbuildings and enough land for a big vegetable garden. Grow your own and sell the surplus at the local market - or swap with neighbours and friends. Read more about it here


All of the properties are for sale privately by the owners. You would pay us no estate agency commission if you bought one of them. If you would like to know more about any of them - or anything else we are marketing, please contact us and we will put you in direct contact with the property owner.



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