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Lifting the lid on the septic tank...The New Generation!


Hi folks!

I haven’t done much in the garden this year…

…well, that’s not quite true because I did get the green house up and make a vegetable garden, earlier in the year…

…but, that’s another story…key words – storms, corrugated plastic panes and many, many rolls of gaffer-tape…ending yet to be determined…lol…:/

And…I have fought the mother of all battles with the green swamp, aka “pond”…but, again, that’s another story…with what seems to be a happy ending, fingers crossed!

Anyway! Green houses and green swamps aside, I’ve been less than enthusiastic after the you-know-whats of the Builders From Hell…and, bearing in mind that they’ll be back again in a few short weeks to build walls etc, there seemed little point in planting any more organic cannon fodder in their path.

The septic tank filter-bed, aka, “The Mediterranean Container Garden”, suffered the worst of the casualties in last winter’s BFH onslaught. After having, previously, barricaded the whole ugly area off, I opened it all up last Spring and planted up lots of pots.

This is how it looked last June…

It was a riot of colour and I rather liked it.

The plan was to over-winter all the tender plants in the green house and, eventually, have enough going on to hide all the plumbing…

…unfortunately, the BFH had other ideas…and I wasn’t able to get to any of them…

…sooo…it looked like this in May, this year…

Not a pretty sight…
…in fact, gut-wrenchingly desolate after all the blood, sweat and tears which were shed over it last spring…

So, looking at it and feeling pretty hacked off (as you can imagine), I wondered, “What can I do, that the BFH can’t wreck?”, and, “What doesn’t require the same fruitless effort or maintainance?”

I did the only thing I could…the BFH were still there, so, I escaped for the day, in search of inspiration (and sanity…but that is, yet again, another story…and is debatable – according to my husband, lol)

In the first nursery I saw nothing, except a beautiful potted aeonium, which I, somewhat uncharacteristically, resisted.

But, on my second stop…there they were!
Lots of (well, some) lovely sedums…tall ones, short ones in lovely shades of green…

I bought the whole lot!!

…and planted them, directly, into the sand and gravel in the top levels of those very, precise layers of volcanic rock and such-like which makes up this miracle of modern “eco-techno waste disposal”…

I know what you’re thinking…

…“Umm, still looks pretty desolate to me…”

But, wait!

They’re really beginning to fill out…

…not bad for just two or three months!

In fact, after the BFH are completely finished (perimeter wall and finitions on all the hard landscaping in the garden), I’m going to plant a lot more of these un-fussy, soil-less and water-less little gems all over the garden!!

And…in case you’re wondering why I wasn’t in the garden much in the height of the summer…

…here’s why!!
(Warning! Gratuitous cuteness coming up)

Entitled, “Have nappy sack and ready to travel”. He is just as rakish as he looks…

…filthy, happy and very nearly feral…for a month…

…he kept me a bit busy whilst dear daughter was concerned with deep tanning and sleeping late!!

But, he’s not the only one who had a great time :)

…and…just to end on a horticultural note…

…about that aeonium…

After I acquired all those succulent sedums…

Well…resistance was futile, as they say! lol! :)))

More blog posts by karenfrance

Previous post: Be these bees, or be these, they're bee-flies!

Next post: Flogging a Dead Fish (or The Pond Diary of a Delusional Idiot)



Well, well, well! You've made that area into a real beaut of a feature Karen, and as I shall soon (all going well) be gaining a septic tank of my very own, I am glad you put this on...I might be able to pinch some of your ideas! Yes, we are moving month all going well! Not far away, just 6 miles down the road to a country cottage with no neighbours and a large south facing garden! whoooop!

Gorgeous cheeky and he looks a real character! Hope the walls get built without any more hitches....stay in touch now! ;0)

17 Sep, 2013


Hi friend!
Lovely to see you.....your sedum area will be lovely and no trouble for you....have that blue with pink flowers sedum.It is so attractive.
What a cute chap your grandson looks, K.Hope he didn't interfere with your deckchair activity!!!
Will send PM this weekend to give you all the news.x

17 Sep, 2013


Gosh, Karen - he's grown! (Well - they do, don't they!) Still as much of a charmer, though!

Love the sedums - they are super plants. I hope you will survive the next onslaught of the BFH. One day you'll be able to look back on it all and do a blog with all the benefit of hindsight! :-)

17 Sep, 2013


Hallo Karen! I did, fleetingly, notice that you are moving. I will catch up properly over the next day or so! I haven't had time to read your blog yet...but, when I saw the title...I just thought, "Every artist has to part with their work"...

Congratulations on your new house! It sounds wonderful and you sound so VERY happy! :)))
So, Bon Courage, mon amie and here's to new (and, I think, last?) beginnings! (chink, chink!) :)))) xxx

Hi J!!
Have had a busy time with that little chap! He's like a tableful of mice...all over the place...and, QUICK!! lol! :)
Look forward to your news, hun - all good? xxx

17 Sep, 2013


Missed you , Hon ; it sounds as though you had a good summer even without too much gardening !

17 Sep, 2013


Oh, Mel...they grow quicker than your own ones did!

...or, maybe it just seems so... Roo had a great time at the (river) beach...
...despite wearing pink "cinderella" water-wings...
(It was all they had left in the shop - hope we haven't damaged him toooo deeply, lol!)

How's you're little rake, these days? :)) x

Hallo Driad!
Yup, no gardening! Well...there's always next

Long time no see and missed you too! How are you doing hun?

17 Sep, 2013


your gravel area looks great,Karen..and the Sedums are just right there..I love them:o) but the pics of Roo are my faves..he is such a cheeky looking little chappie..and so happy :o) I bet it's quiet without him.. ! Lol..Time to recharge your batteries hun,till the BFH arrive..oh,joy !
Our livewire is staying over,on Saturday night..first time for ages..looks like we will be playing snap,over,and over and over again.:o) Still,better than Saturday night TV..just !.
Lovely to see you back x

17 Sep, 2013


Pink water-wings lol!

My grandson is amazing (like all babies!) - 13 months old, just walking and now climbing up the little frame/slide thing in the park. He "helps" his daddy with all sorts of things (they are busy doing jobs in their new home) and loves the garden. We've just had a week all together in Scotland, on the coast - he adored the beach! Straight into the sea in his denims before anyone could stop him! We had a ball. I agree entirely that other people's children grow quicker than one's own - it's only looking back that it all seems to have gone so fast. S-i-l has a "William's photo stream" online and bungs all his photos on there, so I am constantly updated with his exploits. I am besotted!

17 Sep, 2013


Eh bonjour frenchie ca va?
You sound as if you have been thoroughly enjoying yourself, after now living close to my my own little granddaughter I can so understand where you are coming from, pure joy, he looks an adorable pixie.
Good solution for the fosse septique, haven't they made all the difference there and without any upkeep lol. I can see you getting really drawn into planet sedum there, I left hundreds in my garden for the new owners and miss them here, they divide so easily, cover the soil fast and are easily pulled out if ever too invasive, and lots of different sorts. my new bit of a garden is just an overgrown weedy plot right now, house renovation comes first, but cannt wait for nxt spring. Head full of plans, rose1949' s last few blogs gave me a good push, have a look if you haven't seen her new garden yet, brilliant. Weather cooling down your way now? Fetes over,bar the grape related ones lol! Chink to you from a sunny n.Yorks.

18 Sep, 2013


Hope it solves your problems Karen, its a beautiful creation .......and your gorgeous excuse for not being here is accepted xxx

Oh septic tank at new house then Karen, have you had one before?
Ask the owners the do's and don'ts Also.......
How often emptied, where do the pipes run, where is the soakaway......and when was it last emptied.......

When we moved here it was still the original brick one built between the wars and didn't cope well with modern living....."you shower every day!" And washing machine.....

So we had to have a new one, a 12' deep hole for the carboy thingy is very deep and fascinating to see the soil layers....
We have it emptied annually.

18 Sep, 2013


Oh Karen those sedums are just fab, great job there, yes you need to plant more and more and then forget about them, they have given me an idea for mine!! Could you name any of them?? (please). Your little lad looks full of fun, just like our two year old grandaughter, she loves a smelly nappy sack to go 'pretend' shopping with!!!! Lol, they are so funny aren't they, gave her a Cath Kidson bag but she prefers the sack.:) Glad you are back and being kept busy.

18 Sep, 2013


Oh, Bloomer...he was endless fun! :)
Talks and moves incessantly! Interested in absolutely everything...chasing lizards was the favourite at aperitif time...which left us free to have our glass or two, in relative peace, lol! Well, for a wee while...
I'm looking forward to those "Thomas the Tank Engine" years, like you've been having...or, the "snap" that it's moved on to...precious times, eh? Didn't last long enough when their mummies were that size either, did it?... :)x

PS Been incapacitated today...signed up for a "spin" class yesterday, then regular "torture" today...result...paralysed on the sofa, staring at the! Pm you tomorrow - first day off to do as I please!! :)))

Âllo Frenchie! Ca va bien, merci! Et toi? Comment tu vais...en Yorkshire??? 's'qu'il'passe?? La petite fille? Je comprehend...elle est très mignon, je pense? Non? :)
And, you're right, I'm a compete convert to the wonders of sedum! Bugger all that effort to keep other things alive when these wee beauties do it all themselves!!
The weather here has and wet...but, not cool enough to give up the rosé...salut! Et bon courage avec le jardin...look forward to seeing it next year! :)

Hallo Pam...
...and thanks, hun! He did keep me occupied!!! :)xxx

Would you believe that this house had absolutely no sanitation when we bought it...not even a soak-away!! Quite astonishing, considering that there were two old ladies here until 2002 (with two paying lodgers - in the barn and the garage!!!) What a hard life that must have been...!
A traditional filter bed would have fouled up the area we wanted for the swimming, we got this super-duper new compact system. The water comes out, 98% pure and drains straight into the stream, on the other side...and, is not supposed to ever need emptied (we'll see). It's even got an LED indicator in the house to tell us what's actually going on inside it...only problem needs electricity to work! The water table is very high, so the filter bed is higher than the fosse, and the waste has to be pumped up to the filter bed. A bit worrying when the power was down for three days after that last storm, lol!!!

Hi Gill! It's good to see you again too :)x

If only the preference for a smelly nappy sac over a designer bag would last! lol! But, having said that...I know which one I prefer... :))
These sedums are definitely the answer to my woes! And, unusually, I can name them all - how unusual is that? lol! The successful creeping ones are all different "spuriums" and "angelina" (that's the spikey lime green one). The lovely pink mound is sedum "pachyclados". I've got "cauticola lidakense", which hasn't flowered yet, but is really pretty...and different seiboldii, which are not doing quite so well (obviously very tasty to various night critters). The star of the show there is sedum telephium "Jose Aubergine", the tall one. The critters like his leaves as well, but he's strong enough to overcome them. And all the bits I accidentally broke off whilst planting them, are growing happily in pots!

18 Sep, 2013


Go to the top of the class Karen, Lol, 10/10 brilliant memory there and thanks for that great list, where did you buy yours? Having a bit of a change around in my garden so next year I will source out some of these and get planting. Will 'fave' this so it can aide my awful memory! Jose seems to be my very fave. :) Cheers now. :)

18 Sep, 2013


Haha, Gill...I'm not usually so hot on their names, lol! :)

Usually, I buy things, plant them, and forget that they were even there, when they fail to show up the following year.

But, I'm on a mission now...I'm fed up spending a fortune and pandering to plants which just won't thrive, without major effort.

I just came upon these in a local nursery...if I want more, or different ones, I think I'll have to order them.

The tall ones, like José Aubergine are called 'telephium' or 'spectabilis'. There are some beauties on the internet, but how easy they are to get, I don't know...well, for me, in France...probably, easier for you, I think.

There's one called "Autumn Joy" and another called, "Autumn Charm"...and some beautiful variegated leafed ones, with white flowers. I'd really love to find a tall one with yellow flowers...

Happy hunting! And let me know how goes...I want to plant most of my borders with these little gems! :)x

19 Sep, 2013


I've got "Autumn Joy". It romps away in my garden and the butterflies adore it. It also lasts forever - the flowers start off pale green then turn pink, then deep maroon and finally dry off to a rusty brown. I just love it.

19 Sep, 2013


Great info, thanks Karen :) Will go surfing !

19 Sep, 2013


I think mine are' Spectabalis.',especially beautiful this year .I've had them so long I can't remember,but I wouldn't be without them..great gap fillers :o)

20 Sep, 2013


Oh Mel, I somehow missed your other sorry!
Roo loved the water too. I was afraid that he would go charging straight in, which was the reason for getting the last pair of water-wings in the shop. And he did! But, only so far...and into the roped off area for kids. Once we realised this, we could relax a little and just watch him tearing backwards and forwards between the slide and the water...completely naked, except for the pink water-wings!

He raised a few chuckles! lol!

We skype, but, it's only recently that Roo has been able to listen and speak to a computer screen. It makes a big difference.

The bees love José Aubergine too, Mel. They seem drunk after they land on it. You could stroke them and they wouldn't even notice. It has been in flower for weeks now, too...just pink, so far...but, the aubergine stems are gorgeous. "Autumn Joy" is on my wish-list, but I haven't seen it here, even mail order. How tall does it get? And, does it stay upright? I've got "Ruby Glow", which flowered earlier, and definitely has a red glow to it...but, it is almost flat to the ground. Maybe, it'll be better next year, though, when new stems come up?

What colour are yours, Bloomer? My neighbour has some really tall ones which look as if they were covered in ice - they're really spectacular :)

There's an American internet magazine called Houzz, which is worth a look, Gill. They've been into saving water in some parts of the US for years, there are thousands of wonderful, inspirational ideas for all sorts of plants and gardens...and houses and rooms. Just google Houzz and put sedums in the search. I was amazed!!! :)

20 Sep, 2013


It's great to watch the little ones make new discoveries, isn't it? William has just discovered blackberries, after a foraging expedition with s-i-l down by the Post Office (!) and also that his spoon and breakfast toast don't mix.

We don't Skype very often because William just wants to get his hand on the laptop or i-pad all the time, so it's harder than when he was a bit younger. It is funny watching him with the remotes - he points the correct one at the television and presses buttons until something happens. And if he gets hold of a mobile, he claps it to his ear and verbalises (no recognisable words yet). It cracks me up!

Sedum Spectabile "Autumn Joy" grows to about 2 feet. It always looks as if it's going to remain upright, but then fans out from the middle, so it does need some support. I always leave it too late and end up tying a sort of belt of twine about it - which works fine, but isn't the prettiest of solutions. It really is a robust plant, in my garden at least, and will regrow from any bit broken off as long as there are a few roots. (It breaks off quite easily, being fairly brittle) I reckon once you've got one, you could increase it very easily.

20 Sep, 2013


Autumn Joy always stayed upright for me, they make such a massive , satisfying statement just when you think most flowering plants are giving up, in france anyway.
Bees n butterflies love them and they are easy to divide in spring. Got no neighbours you cld beg a piece with some root off come spring? Vague feeling I got mine from the gardentent in Leclerc's. The small yellow acres like Angelina are even easier, just a cm without roots, you try n stop it self rooting, invasive but easy to pull out if needed. Yea girl get in there.... just pure pleasure n no hard graft to persuade them to grow. Santé, although it's a bit early at 7.30am!

21 Sep, 2013


Hi Rezi..would you mind taking a look on the last photo I posted "Sedum Spectabalis for Karenfrance" please..and tell me if you think Mine is 'Autumn Joy' ?
I have long since forgotten which it is,as no longer have the label..thank you..

21 Sep, 2013


It was just the same for us, until quite recently, Mel. You'd think that he was listening - then, mayhem! lol! Funny how they like buttons so much...and only the real ones!!
My "Man Friday" who comes on a Wednesday (it's not how that may sound, honestly) found my old mobile "posted" last year into a breeze block in the garden...

I guess if you pack loads of taller sedums together they might support each other? I'm like you...I always leave it too late!

None of my neighbours have any sedums, Resi - apart from the one with the icy white flowers. I'm watching to see when she's next in the garden, so that I can I can ask her for a bit. It's quite spectacular!
They're not much interested in flowers around here...hydrangeas for the shade and hibiscus, roses and buddleja plopped in anyhow in the sun. Now fruit trees they do...and asparagus...oh! and Japanese Knotweed!

After that wall is built, that border will be hotter than, I'll have to grab them when I see them...or order them on the internet...

Santé! :)
(I'm allowed, the sun's over the yardarm somewhere nearby...)

I've just asked you that very same question, on your photo, Bloomer! They're quite hard to tell apart in photos, I think. Best just try and get all of them...then all the bases are covered ;)

21 Sep, 2013


Hi Bloomer, i agree yours is spectabilis autumn joy, but I think you two might be at cross purposes here?? Karenfrance wants one of these lovelies but has Hylotelephium/Sedum 'José Aubergine, they are both tall sedums but J.Aubergine is paler and with fant. purplish stems. Autumn Joy starts off quite pale rose and ages to a gorgeous rusty red. I think I might plant them in the same border once I get up n running again, but not too close. I actually spent the aftnoon in the garden, and discovered a large clump of S. Autumn Joy in glorious flower, just shows how focussed I am on finishing the house -or maybe can't multitask anymore, more likely! - couldn't resist, managed to find some gardentools as well, everything is still in boxes and stored in odd parts of the house. Back to more sanding n undercoating tomoro though.

21 Sep, 2013


Thanks Resi,much appreciated in naming it for me.I though it was,but nice to have it confirmed..and I agree,Karen and I got our wires crossed..nothing new there then ! :o) One job at a time ,isn't in our vocabulary it seems..but glad you took the time out to get in your garden..far too nice to be indoors..but good luck with the painting tomorrow,and thanks again..

21 Sep, 2013


Thanks from me too, Resi :)

I'll have room for umpteen different varieties, when I make over that border. It's a big space. Are there any telephium or spectabilis which produce yellow flowers?

And, thinking how big it is...are they easy to grow from seed?

Just had a look at your purple emperor, that would look spectacular planted with angelina...and something with bluey-green leaves...
Hoho! Maybe add in some sea holly...

I have to go and write this down, so that I don't forget...

I don't envy you, tackling a new house and garden all at once, again, Resi. More than three years down the line, and mine's still not finished...either of them. But, I'm too tired to multi-task, these days...
So, it's the house in winter, garden in spring and autumn
...and summer off!
Bon courage and happy sanding! :)

22 Sep, 2013


Sedum Rupestre Angelina , or Gold Mount Karen?
Have you thought about a Euphorbia, the wulfini characias is magnificent and that green n yellow is woow. Just make sure you get the seeds off before they start exploding lol.
If you go to my photos on page 7 you see one of mine, that is just the one plant, ginormous, the ladybird underneath made such a beautiful contrast, still one of my favourite pics. I am in the garden again, loads of weeds to sort which I have never had any bother with before, creeping jenny and yellow oxalis, I like both of them but they are taking over, diff climes different soil, another learning curve, but love it. Having cooker connected today, sink plumbed in yest. it is becoming a home instead of a building site n at least the builders all speak English, simplifies life a lot, my technical french was somewhat haphazard! sante to you ce soir, sun must b nearly over the yardarm there by now.

23 Sep, 2013


Oh, Resi, don't mention the B word!!
I don't know how you can do it, again...
...honestly...regardless of which language they speak.

Are you a serial renovator, by any
I used to be, but, this house has seen off my lovely girl-sized sander and jig-saw...and my brushes with the perfect cutting edges (may they rust in the barn, until someone takes them to the déchetterie...amen).

I can tell that you're happy, though... :)

So, Bon Felicitations, mon amie!
Chink, chink! I wish you the best (est!) in your new home and garden! :)

ps. I'll grill you about plants later... x

23 Sep, 2013


Def not a serial renovator, just a serial mover maybe, this is the last one though, we just did a lot on our french hse and this one needed a total overhaul , but she is slowly reaching perfection! I just acquired my first 'girl sized' sander as I wore t'other one out, this is better on the fiddly bits.Will put a pic of the garden on soon, not ready for a blog just yet. Cup o tea time as no yardarm in sight yet.

24 Sep, 2013

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