Monday 21 May 2012

La Fête des Plantes

The back of the chateau.
Last weekend we went to support our local disadvantaged yoof charity. They (that is the Foundation d'Auteuil) run a horticultural college in the nearby chateau of Verneuil-sur-Indre. We arrived a few minutes after they opened and by the time we got up to the greenhouse where all the bedding and vegetable seedlings were, it was packed to the gunwales.

Floristry students.
We struggled our way around, choosing little plants and putting them in our box (we brought our own boxes, as we knew they run out very quickly). On our first round we concentrated on the important stuff - vegetables - so it was zucchini, melon, tomatoes, more tomatoes, a few more tomatoes and oh, do you think that will be enough, some more tomatoes, aubergines, basil, celery, rainbow chard, but no peppers or chillies. There just weren't any to be had - we assume it has been too cold and they haven't germinated or thrived, or got knocked by the frost in March.

Bridge over a stream at the back of the chateau.
As ever there were many anglos at the plant fair and I got chatting to the woman behind me in the queue to pay. To my considerable surprise her French companion looked at me and said she knew me! I was the Australian woman, wasn't I, and she had run into me in the bakers at St Hippolyte!! Amongst the crowd we encountered fellow bloggers and friends Tim and Pauline and Niall and Antoinette. We had arranged to meet Annie and Chris, and they had brought their friends Howard and Elizabeth. It was all very jolly. Oh and our neighbour Pierre-Yves was there and it felt like we were stopping to chat every few metres.

Students operating the sound system.
Once you've chosen your plants you approach one of the students on duty, who makes a list of what you've picked up so you can take it through to a cashier. 'Our' student turned out to be almost illiterate and really struggled with finding the names of the plants and writing them down. I helped by pointing at them on his master list and he got there in the end. I thought he coped really well under pressure. It must have been very challenging to have to do something like that in public. I hope he felt proud at the end of the day of how he had acquitted himself and I hope his profs noticed he had done well.

Choosing perennials.
After lunch in the dining hall and collecting some seedlings that Annie had potted up for me, we came home and I got planting vegetables while Simon did window boxes.



chm said...

When Ken and I stopped there a few years back, probably on our way to see you, I was really surprised to learn the chateau belonged to the Fondation d’Auteuil. My father had some connection with the Orphelins-Apprentis d’Auteuil, as they were known at the time, to the point he gave them a painting by my grandfather.

That day at Verneuil-sur-Indre, the weather was lousy. Rather chilly and drizzling.

Jean said...

Wish we could have been there .... maybe one day we'll be in France at the right time, or better still, all the time !!

Simon said...

chm - it wasn't warm this year, either - sunny, but too cold for shorts (which I was wearing)

Jean - one day...

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