La Sainte-Catherine

One of the many sayings and planting rules often quoted to us by gardeners here applies to today: À la SainteCatherine, tout bois prend racine – on St Catherine’s day (25 November) all wood takes root, in other words, it’s the day for planting trees.  One of our friends and gardening neighbours has promised us an off-shoot from his hazelnut tree but by the time I got to the garden, rather late in the morning after having to spend a few hours at my desk first, he had already dug the hole for the apricot tree he was going to plant and had gone home.  I dug the hole for our hazel tree so that it will be ready next time we see him, probably over the weekend, when we can transfer the sapling from his garden to ours.

Now that the clouds have gone and we have some real autumn sunlight, it’s not too late to see some of the colours of the different varieties of vine leaves in their small parcelles, forming a sea in the wide valley just north of the village.  This morning the air was wonderfully clear and the remaining colours bright:


nov vines 1

nov vines 2

nov vines 3

I took these photos from almost exactly the same position as I took those on my post on 8 October so you can see the difference in the vineyards from six weeks ago when the vines were still green.

In the garden, the broad beans that I sowed two weeks ago have all germinated so there is a nice double row of small plants coming up.  It’s a good feeling, to have the first crop of spring on its way.  It suggests that winter will pass, and the sunshine in the garden today was so warm I could almost have believed it was spring.  We cut bamboo leaves from the high plants bordering the garden to protect the beans from possible frost over the next couple of months.


There are broad bean plants under there, somewhere!

Another hopeful sign for next spring is the healthy new growth on the artichoke plants.  They always die down completely during summer when it’s so dry and it’s always encouraging to see the strong leaves coming up again after the rain in the autumn.


We got home at lunchtime, very hungry and with nothing prepared so I made a very quick pasta alla carbonara, with fusilli rather than spaghetti because it has a shorter cooking time.  I fried some lardons (small pieces of bacon), beat an egg into the remains of a pot of crème fraïche, added some grated Cantal cheese, chopped garlic and a lot of ground black pepper and stirred it all into the cooked pasta.  Then garnished it with some parsley I’d just picked in the garden.  It was all ready within about 15 minutes and, of course, it was just what we needed after a morning’s work!


9 thoughts on “La Sainte-Catherine

  1. I love these traditions – shame we planted our pomegranate tree about a week ago, we should have waited a few days more! Beautiful photos and that shot of the pasta with the glass of wine is wonderful….guess what I fancy now?!

  2. today, my lunch was a bowl of the (slightly amended) spicy haricot bean soup i made for the family the previous evening, plus a few of the deep-fried sprats (or somesuch) that were also left over from last night’s dinner – bit too cold from the fridge but that’s because i’d forgotten to take them out in time – still, one of the meals i think of as cordon dole cookery (along with pheasant, for example, ridiculously cheap but great everything . . .)

  3. I’ve come across a definition of the ‘tout bois prend racine’ part of the saying as referring to taking cuttings of shrubs and trees too. We took several of our wisteria, Russian vine and buddleia on St Catherine’s day for luck!

  4. Pingback: Closer to the rock | olivesandartichokes

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