Tuesday, April 8, 2014

No Sorrow That It's Sorrel Season...and no pity for pityocampa

The spring after our arriving here in the autumn of 2009 was mostly dismal as the garden had been neglected over a decade. The light-green whorls of perennial, tough sorrel had beckoned like a refreshing oasis poking out of the surrounding, rock-hard soil which was mercilessly smothered in matted layers of rank, dead weeds. 


Its season which started in February will be coming to an end fairly soon. Sorrel's beloved culinary characteristics are a lemony flavour and an ability to melt into a sauce in a few minutes when sauteed in butter.

Chiffonade: stack sorrel leaves, roll into a cigar shape, and slice thinly

Adding scrambled eggs makes a dynamic duo.

Let the mixed eggs coagulate a bit before scrambling

Chez nous is still the kingdom of quick meals so the green-streaked eggs were piled between slices of sourdough rye.


In the garden it's the right time to prune lavender. More harsh pruning than just the light trim they need after their summer flowering can be done with a fair amount of safety now as the warming weather will encourage new growth. However, such reduction still needs to be paced over several years to avoid losing a plant which can happen when cutting into woody branches that may remain unproductive. It has taken several years to transform the leggy bushes flanking our front pathway into compact mounds.

Newly leafed-out roses hidden by a lace curtain, irises, not-yet-blooming peonies, and lavender hedge

Leggier /ropy lavender in June 2012

Though Thaumetopoea pityocampa is an innocuous moth, an encounter with its larval form can be injurious as it was to our neighbours' small dog. What energetic doggie could resist licking some as they seductively wiggled their sinuous way while touching each other tail to nose forming a long caterpillar caravan?

Photo taken from here

The tufts of hairs growing on their segments trigger inflammatory reactions ranging from mild to lethal. The little dog's tongue developed some necrosis. He of course needed medical attention and happily is doing well once again.

Soon after, Madame M told me that early one morning--she had wanted to wake me so I could take photos but refrained--as she entered her garden she spotted a long branch on the patio and wondered from where it fell. Then it moved! White vinegar poured on them was to no avail, so some careful foot stomping got, well, underfoot. The pile of carnage was removed to the back of the garden where I suspect Monsieur M will burn them. A fifty percent/fifty percent mixture of bleach and water is supposed to be deadly. Bleach in our cabinet? Check!

Hopefully Elmo the Cat will remain safe from the caterpillar chain gangs.

Note to Elmo:  Do not confide in processionary pre-moths, in essence, keep your tongue to yourself

Monsieur M and The Calm One raised our one-cubic-meter, rainwater harvester on cement blocks so a faucet can be fitted to enable the filling of watering cans. Elmo made himself right at home.

The black plastic covering was done by Monsieur M to stop red algae from forming

À la prochaine!

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More about Pine Processionary Moths