Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Do I look French to you??" History in a tapestry and a Potagerie

Part One 
(Pour a glass of wine, this is a long post. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.)
Do I look French to you??

            In the spirit of camaraderie and fun, I join fellow blogger and friend Anita Rivera of "Castles, Crowns and Cottages", in her virtual tour of all things French.
  My quandary is,  that I have never been to France nor  do I speak much French; ( but I do have a pretty good French accent!).  I don't do any French cooking, although I have to confess a fondness for escargot (snails) and Pate de foi gras  ( goose Liver)  .
 (If you ever tell Hamish or Fionna Goosefeathers about the Pate de foi gras, I will deny it to the grave!!)  Other than that, what can I  post about with a French Flair?

 Hmmmmmmm... think think think.
 Well, would it be stretching it to say that I have a wee bit of French blood in me via an ancestor from way, way back??
  I LOVE History, and when  my genealogist Brother-in-law researched my fathers ancestry, he came upon fascinating discoveries. A long line of royalty with more kings, queens, duchesses, dukes and marquises than we could imagine. Some, with really funny names like "Pepin the Short", and "Pepin the Fat"and Sir Henry "Hotspur" Percy... but I want to concentrate on one FRENCH ancestor, in particular: "William the Conqueror".
(Bear with me, this is a short history lesson, to get to the REAL topic.)
            I had not been familiar with  William until learning I was a descendent, but the fabulous thing about having famous and infamous ancestors is that YOU CAN LOOK THEM UP ONLINE.
In a nutshell. William,( also known as William the Bastard)  was son of  Duke Robert of Normandy and a fair French maiden named Herleve, the daughter of a tanner . The Normans in France, were descendents Of Viking Raiders. Despite his illegitimacy, William inherited his fathers title, after much ado. When the King of England,  across the Channel, died,  William had reason to believe that he had claim to the crown   due to earlier promises from said King. As was usually the case, William had competition for the throne and a war ensued  as William invaded England with an enormous force of Norman troops;  This became known as The Battle of Hastings. I will skip all the juicy and gruesome details and move along to tell you that William won the battle, hence the war, hence the crown . William of Normandy became William the Conqueror,  Ruler of England and this event marked the death of Ango- Saxon England. England was forever changed. Needless to say,William was not a popular figure with the Saxons, and had a REAL hard time getting his new subjects to like him, as he tended to be a bit of a tyrant, what with all that pillaging and raping of the villages in a brutal and ruthless effort to get his new subjects to... well, SUBJECT. Not to mention the fact that he spoke French, not English.  I only tell you all this because a magnificent tapestry was created telling the entire background story of Williams invasion of England in 1066.
It is called " The Bayeux Tapestry", and I find it most fascinating.
  This embroidered strip of linen is 20" tall and 230 feet long! 

Needled in vivid wool, the tapestry portrays running scenes of the events leading up to and including, the battle, which became known as the Norman Conquest.
  Sitched in marvelous detail  is an incredible  early medieval pictorial depicting the weaponry, the clothing, buildings, ships and even the hairstyles of the period. The Saxons can be recognized by their mustaches  and the NORMANS  by the unusual "bald in back, Beatle Haircut in front" do.  Text is in Latin explaining each event, from the time William was promised the Throne, to the building of the ships to cross the channel and on to the grisly death of his enemies, portrayed in gruesome detail, as heads roll and  body parts disperse throughout.
 It is believed that the patron of this artwork was a Norman, probably Williams wealthy brother, but the embroidery itself,  is considered English.

 It is said the tapestry was stitched  by either Queen Matilde ( Williams wife) and her ladies or, more likely, expert, needleworking Saxon nuns in 1082   This incredible work of history and artistry is nearly 100o years old  and nothing else like it exists anywhere in the world.  It had survived fires and wars for nearly 500 years, presumably because it was rolled up and stored.Then it disappeared, only to reappear during the French Revolution, when it was used as a wagon cover! It survived many more miss-adventures, before, thankfully, being displayed, safe and sound, in
 a Museum in Bayeux, Normandy. The Museum was built specifically for this single object and it travels the walls in a fluid stretch throughout the building.
 I own a few books on this embroidery but have never see it in person. What a thrill that would be!

 I do, however, own a French Tapestry of my own, with it's own interesting history.

   Mine is a reproduction, woven in France about 50 yrs ago. 
  According to Wikipedia, " The Lady and the Unicorn ( La Dame à la licorne) is the title given to a series of six tapestries woven in Flanders of wool and silk, from designs , drawn in Paris in the late fifteenth century. The suite, on display in the Musee du Moyen- Age. is often considered one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages in Europe." The set of tapestries were rediscovered in 1841 in the Boussac Castle.
(Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia)
 Each Tapestry represents one of the five senses and portrays a noble lady with a unicorn on her left and a lion on her right. Mine represents hearing.The lady is playing an organ as unusual stylized rabbits and dogs sit at her feet, upon a Turkish rug. I just happened upon my tapestry  whilst antiquing, and although it goes with absolutely nothing in our Early American  house,  we  bought it on the spot and hung it along our stair landing. It is truly beautiful!

  Do WE look French to you?
 We are the 3 French Hens, Giselle, Antoinette and Veronica...s'il vous plaît.

      We are experts in all things French and would like to take you on a tour of our most humble  Le Jardin Potagerie (French Kitchen Garden) ( Also know as a Potager, to you more common folk.)

 We French ladies spend each and every morning, cultivating our herbs, roses, and vegetables in our charming little garden.  The Mistress of the Manor created this Potager using all manner of salvage, just as a French country wife may have done a century ago.

Chives, Lemon-balm and Rosemary are planted in this bed, and you can see the little indentation where we take our dust bath... before we take our "wet" bath in our special bathing facilities.
 The Mistress used old brick, timbers, stone, tin buckets and pails, old wagon wheels and farm implements to make this special Jardin... for WE THREE HENS. She planted everything, but WE do the cultivating. Of course, we are happy to share the bounty from "our" garden, with one and all.
      Our Rooster Man, the Marquee De Cock a Doodle Doo, appreciates all the fine meals we prepare using the garden fresh herbs; meals like Earth Worm Souffle with fresh parsley Quiche Lorraine a la ladybug with fresh toasted cayenne , Unfertilized egg omelets with sage  and a piquant Corsican mint sauce. We provide our own eggs, of course.
       We French hens believe that even a vegetable garden should be a thing of beauty, something magnifique, and that is precisely what a potager is. A visually pleasing combination of plants; including herbs, veges, fruits and flowers.  Plants are chosen for their color,  form  and loveliness as well as their tastiness. We French hens know all about color and form as you can see by our lovely figures and vibrant feathers.


 In our French Kitchen garden, 

 Wisteria, roses and Baptisia grow happily along with
Lavender and Thyme 

 The Mistress uses old rusty tubs and pails, (shabby but chic),

  to plant  Oregano, Parsley, Cilantro,  and Mints....

Strawberries, pansies and watercress for salad... and creeping Jenny for it's lovely draping habit.
 We French Hens leave the Strawberries for the Mistress... we prefer the slugs...er, I mean the ESCARGOT.

 We have many walkways to keep our lovely pink toes tidy, and to lead us from one raised bed to the next. This area encompasses about 300 sq. ft. Which may not seem like much to you, but to a petit chicken madmoiselle, it is a vast wonderland of worms and wooly thyme!

Our Potager is right off the side porch. This is very convenient for the Mistress, as she keeps her gardening tools close at hand in her Shabby Chic cupboard. The shabby Chic cupboard is the ONLY French thing about Our Mistress, Mon Dieu!  poor dear.

The Lord of the Manor uses many of our herbs in his cooking.... even though he is of Irish descent.... not FRENCH,  like us.
                   Incidently, we do NOT pronounce the H in herbs, s'il vous plaît.
  It is really quite amazing how much you can squeeze into a space this size. Our 3oo square foot potagerie  also contains 9 roses, 11 lavender plants, dozens of Foxgloves and Geraniums,  bee-balm, daisies, cucumbers, runner beans, tomatoes, daylilies, pinks, mints and strawberry plants all along the border. OH, and 5 different kinds of Sage!

 It's not that we NEED that much sage, it's just that the Mistress thinks it is pretty. 
By the way, did we mention that we are FRENCH?

         The precedent for the Potagerie is from the Gardens of the French Renaissance. Many Potager Gardens are quite elegant, created in a Knot garden style.
  But ours is in the carefree style of a Cottage garden, after all, we French Hens like the Country life best, don't you, Mon Ami?
  Say, does SHE look French to you??
We think so, and allow her to silently stand as a garden sentinel amongst the basil.

 The Barn Swallows always lay their eggs neath the porch eaves, just to be close to OUR garden.

We mademoiselles always witness the first flights of the baby barn swallows from the cozy comfort of our lavender patch, "Provence Lavendula", of course.

 Occasionally, a Peabody boy  struts through, stealing cherry tomatoes and disturbing the peace. Oh well, "Ce la vie!

   If you have a small plot of land, and a few lovely chicken mesdames, we propose you plant a potager for them,. You needn't worry about taking care of it after planting  all the goods,
the Chickens will take over from there.  They will reward you with their beauty and winning personalities.

And occasionally, leave a nice little clutch of eggs, just for you...
so that you TOO, can make an omelet with sage and Corsican mint sauce.
And now we bid you au revoir and bon appetite!


  1. Jeri! I knew you were SPECIAL! How exciting!
    I truly enjoyed the history of your ancestry..
    Such a great post to add to the party!!!

    Thank you so much for visiting Bebe and your sweet words.. Enjoy the party!

  2. i would not let your guess hear about what you like to eat ;-)

    so much beauty and life and wonderful home grown food! what a life you live, alive and beautiful.

    thank you for sharing your home and heart with us!

  3. Jeri, the 3 French hens gave me a beautiful glimpse of the Hallow. Oh how I would love to share a spot of tea among the herbs. Thank you for always sharing your life.
    Lvu. Deborah RM

  4. JERI MA CHÈRIE! QUEL AMUSANT BILLET!!!! teehehehehehehehhehehehhehe

    Oh dear, I am having so much darn fun out here! I finally made it to your post as I got a very early start at 4:00am, visiting our European friends first, then making my way out west....

    WELL! Leave it up to an artistic mind to gather up as much French as possible, from ancestry (AWESOME!) and garden goodies that speak FRENCH! WHOAH! THE LOOK ON FIONA'S FACE is FIERCE! I will keep your secret to the grave too! teehehehehehhe I laughed so darn hard when I saw that mug of hers! Oh how I love it that you are related to Guillaume le conquèrant! I too have some interesting European ancestry from the throne....

    Jeri, those hens are gorgeous, and I can only imagine the taste of an omelette made with French hen eggs and fresh herbs from your potager. This IS a glorious post that I must revisit, as I am going to revisit Bebe's post on the beaches of Nice! Wasn't that hilarious?

    LOVE IT MY FRIEND; and that tapestry of yours! I have several like it in my home that I lugged with me from France - SIMPLY IRRESISTABLE! Enjoy yourself all week! Anita

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  6. Jeri, I loved the hens story and THEIR cottage garden LOL. What a fun thing to do. One day I'm going to have a garden like that! I've already taken your advice about weeds and other than when they get very large, I just leave them to grow in my herb garden. It's filling in very nicely LOLOLOL

  7. I loved reading your historical angle/ take on this links party! Wonderful story and I enjoyed your lovely pics too! Xx

  8. Dear Jeri ~ What a truly delightful post, filled with history, humor and three lovely French hens. Your gardens are wonderful and your story telling magical.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  9. Lovely !!!!

    have a good week end!


  10. je suis une Francaise qui vous lis, si vous avez besoin de traduire quelque chose faites le moi savoir.

    Now to take you out of your misery, I love your blog. Was born in town called Saumur in France, you can google and see the beautiful castle we have. Anyway if you need any help with any translation will be happy to give a hand...I love to see how many Americans love France, very heart warming

    Annie v.

  11. I had to come by again to allay Hamish and Fiona's fears about that word....PÂTÉ DE FOIS GRAS!!!!!! That look just makes me laugh, but then makes me run for my life since I enjoy the flavor!!!!

    I just had to come by again...enjoy my dear. Anita

  12. You have a gorgeous blog and I so enjoyed the tour...LOL even if you arn't French.The photos are so colorful.Your Rode Island Red hen is so pretty.and so are you.
    It has been a pleasure,
    Marie Antionette

  13. I am clapping my hands like a child who has been given a wonderful gift! How delighted I am you stopped by my blog because now I have found YOU! You are a wonderful person; this post spells that out loud and clear. And so amusing too! I should tell you that, prior to living in the Loire Valley we lived for seven years on the coast of Normandy... next to Bayeux. Yes, indeed! The Bayeux Tapestry - the world's longest cartoon, is truly amazing. As a child, growing up in England, we learned all about William The Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings. This part of history is very important to England and France and it's wonderful to read your version of it.

    Right; I'm off to follow you if I may.

    A bientôt, lover of Fois Gras,


  14. Oh my, what gorgeous gorgeous pictures!! Your garden is adorable and I could just plop down somewhere there and stay!!

    Lynn Dylan

  15. I am in love with the french little girl. It looks like a stand, it's so pretty. The Cottage garden is so green and lovely.

    It's nice to meet new friends.

    ~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

  16. Oh Jeri I am simply mesmerized! First the story of your heritage and of William the Conqueror!
    The tapestry and then your very own tapestry( which I would have also snapped up at a moments notice!)

    Thank you for sharing your lovely pottager with all of the accoutrements and Fauna! Oh, and I have barn swallows as well!

    Join me in my French Adventure!
    Art by Karena

  17. Jeri, This was a delightful read. I couldn't help but be reminded of the the story I read to my children this morning...."The Little Red Hen". I've been away trying to finish up the school year I am so glad I checked in tonight. Bonnie

  18. Hello Jeri, I'm so glad I can get to know you thru Anita. We have a few things in common: Gardening, art, Saxon decedents, long hair, grown sons...except I do pronounce the H in herbs. (not my fault...British father) :) I love your little potager. I have one of my own too. Happy gardening and dreaming of France. Off to discover more of your site. :)

  19. JERI DARLIN'!!!

    Oh my, I am having so much fun and I literally feel EXHAUSTED, as if I did go around the globe today! But what fun to see dear friends link up together...you will LOVE Stephanie from Mille Feuilles...she is a Brit living in France and she is a lover of nature, an artist, and I believe is writing her doctoral dissertation on gardens of Europe! And then there are the other lovely souls who know you and love your world, as I do.

    OH! YOUR HUMOR IS WHAT I LOVE!!!!! I tell ya, that photo of Fiona is priceless, as is Penny's Bebe, Heidi's son Maximus as UN ARTISTE, and so many more...keep partying, girl!

  20. what a wonderful post! I love all the photos of your gardens and the historical bits too! I'm a bit of a history buff myself. BTW, have you by any chance read Tracy Chevaliers novel entitled "The Lady and the Unicorn"? It's a fictional tale about the origins of the tapestry, and a really good read! All of her novels are wonderful, but you might be especially interested in this one :)

  21. Standing up and applauding here!!!! BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!!! :)))))
    A round of applause for ALL of the very French and a little French ladies of the manor! Human and feathered! :)
    Jeri, thank you so much for this fantastic, humorous, enchanting post!
    I am not one bit surprised that you come from noble roots, dear Jeri...I always say that true nobility lies in a big heart, originality, kindness, and courage...and in your case, gigantic talent as well....(Anita, this goes for you too!)
    Your family history is amazing...and can I tell you that I have had the honor of seeing the Bayeux as well as the "Licornes" tapestries...truly amazing...
    I do hope you will visit them someday...and you absolutely must visit Monet's gardens and home in Giverny...one of those paradise on Earth places...kind of like where you are! :)))
    Thank you so much for this joy!
    Blessings and have fun partying!
    - Irina

  22. Fantastic post Jeri, that tapestry is part of my memories of history at school. Learning (badly) the lists of the kings of England. There is an amazing book Tapestry, sadly now out of print, that chronicles the history of the form. The Flemish masters, and Italians of the 16th century wove pictures that are jawdropping.
    Love your Frenchness, even though I look like I was probably descended from the Anglo Saxons!

  23. Thank you for sharing your ancestry, some history, some fun and your lovely potager. What delightful photos!

  24. Wowwwww....what a great long post.....welcome in France...nice to see you here.......love to do this together...Anita is such a good friend to all of us...enjoy the weekend love Ria...xxx...

  25. I suddenly have an urge for a baked chicken breast or COQ AU VIN!!! Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    Oh Jeri, I am having so much fun visiting everyone AGAIN! I so love everything you have done here and I even showed Ruben your work and FIONA! He sighed in fear! teeheheheee

    OK, back to the trail....enjoy! Anita

  26. My goodness it took a great deal of time to put this post together. I am amazed!!!!! I enjoyed reading the history and the tapestry is incredible. To think they did this fabulous work in low light and didn't have modern glasses to correct vision.

    Lovely garden. You are multi-talented.

  27. Your post was a delight to read, but I kept getting distracted by all the beautiful artwork on you side bar. Did you draw the beautiful bleu background?

    So happy to find you, a gifted artist, and would love to be friends via blogging. I am a new follower.


  28. What a DELIGHT to come by here for a visit today!
    I am thankful Anita planned this party so I could meet so many wonderful women, like you, in blogland!

    Wow, what a garden!!! Thank you for the tour!!!
    ~ Violet

  29. What a DELIGHT to come by here for a visit today!
    I am thankful Anita planned this party so I could meet so many wonderful women, like you, in blogland!

    Wow, what a garden!!! Thank you for the tour!!!
    ~ Violet

  30. Hello lovely Jeri, so pleased to meet you via Anita's party. I met some of my dearest blogging neighbors while participating last year.
    I had stopped by yesterday but saved visiting with you for today because your post is not to be rushed. It is delightful. I think I've enjoyed it so much I'm going to read it again.
    LOVE the herb pails, and heavens no, we do not pronounce the H in HERBS either. teehee
    The tapestries are gorgeous and your garden is simply dreamy. Love, love, love.
    I emailed you a little note on the macarons. Until this week I had never tasted one and I wondered too. I've added a couple of lines to my post just to clarify but I will also be sharing more details next week when I attempt to make them myself.
    Thanks for stopping by the table.
    Much love!

  31. I am visiting all the other guests at Anita's party. Your blog is a visual party in itself. I will be back after I visit other guests.

  32. Hello Jeri, such a pleasure to meet you. Love your photos and your garden is so lovely. Thanks to Anita, I found your blog.

  33. Yes, dear Jeri, it was wonderful to view it, but I think I would appreciate it much more now...(I was 18 at the time!)
    Enjoy your Sunday, sweet friend!
    - Irina

  34. Great to meet you via Anita's party. What an interesting post. Your garden and hens are beautiful. Thanks for your tour.

  35. JERI! GO SEE BEBE! She took your advice and has turned on her side to get an even tan....teehehehehehhehee

  36. Bonjour Jeri,

    Lovely to come and visit you again for the French party and thanks for visiting me.
    Loved seeing your three sweet French hens and your gorgeous garden.
    Must be wonderful going and picking the fresh herbs and vegetables.
    Also how amazing the tapestries are.
    Wishing you a happy week

  37. Bonjour Jeri. So wonderful to meet you thanks to our friend Anita. I loved, loved, loved this post. You may not know France yet, but you had us all fooled. I was lucky enough to see the Tapestry in Bayeux a few years ago. Yes, it is magnificent, and totally fascinating. As for your beautiful gardens (so much prettier than "yard," don't you think?) I am impressed. What a Master Gardener you are. And les poules, ah, les poules! They are quite popular in my neighborhood as well. Thank you for stopping by earlier today. I hope we stay in touch. A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  38. A lovely post Jeri. You have so many stone bunnies around your yard that I would love to come and steal! hee,hee,hee. Anita is such a lovely friend. This is a wonderful party.

  39. You are so funny... A toasted moussie... haaaa
    Thanks for wandering over.. I see dear Anita came by to tell you Bebe took your advice.. Good advise it was.. She was getting a bit red.

    I cannot get over these beautiful tapestries.. Such beautiful workmanship. I really love your French tapestry.

  40. Good Monday morning,Jeri! I am so pleased to meet you. I saved your post for my first morning coffee!

    I always love a history lesson. Your story about the amazing Bayeux Tapestry, and how it is woven into your heritage was so interesting. To think that something so precious was used as a wagon cover!

    I have fallen for your three French hens and your amazing potager! Your gardens are so natural and non contrived to the eye!

    I so enjoyed your interjection of humor along the way...

    I plan to visit often.

    Bless Anita, for introducing us!
    Thank you for stopping by to visit me!

  41. Jeri, I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog this morning. I enjoyed your art work and stories of your wonderful garden. I will definitely read more. Thank you for sharing. New Follower!

    Take Care,

    1. Oh my Salmon Faverolle rooster Mr. Frenchie is quite smitten with your three frech hens Jeri. Mr. Frenchie has demaned a portager off to the right of the hen house Bisto for only his fav girlies or "cickauns" ~that is just "chicken" with a French accent :)

    2. PS Mr Frenchie came back to correct himself he adores your "French " hens and he wishes me to make a "potager" of his Bistro coop area...oh mistakes do happen when you allow chickens to peck on cell phones ;)

  42. Delightful, whimsical....fantastical....(is that a word?) I am having more fun connecting with bloggers all over the world! What a wonderful idea Anita had....bringing us all together. My inbox is going to be running over with all of the new subscriptions I cannot resist!

  43. Coming over to meet you from Anita's place for our little French holiday. What a life you have! And, that goat with sunglasses has stolen my heart completely.

  44. I love you family history! The tapestries are fabulous! And the chickens and goat...wonderful.

    So nice to meet you. Thanks Anita!

  45. Jeri - what a super post...I always love learning something new and my French knowledge is next to nil...your potager garden is my kind of gardening and loved seeing it as well as your 3 French hens. Imagine you being related to William the Conqueror! How special to be able to trace your ancestry back that far. Well I enjoyed my visit so much...think I will go back now and see if there is anything I need to revisit. Maybe I will pick some of your lovely herbs - the ones without the "h" - lol!

  46. Wow, what an amazing, magnifique garden! What fun you must have finding little objets to fill it with. And I must say, I am so envious that you are related to William the Conqueror. I am very interested in researching my family ancestry but so far can't get very far. It is an amazingly time-consuming project! So I'm just envious that you've gotten that far back! Someday! Someday I'll find the time to keep working on it.
    I saw The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries in person at the Musee du Luxembourg when it was on exhibit there. In fact, I bought coasters with the scenes on them so they are under my cup every day. I will definitely be back to visit your garden again.
    What fun to find new friends thanks to Anita!
    Hugs, Kirsten

  47. Jeri, the gardens are stunning. When do you have time? It is so much work. Beautiful, so beautiful.

  48. How cool to be able to trace back your ancestors that far and find out so much information. I think you should be the rightful owner of that tapestry. :)

    Beautiful gardens and I love the hens!

    Heidi @ hi-d's place

  49. Loved this sweet
    and French-y post!
    What a beautiful
    world that you have
    created, here!

    xo Suzanne

  50. Very creative way to play French! Thanks to Anita for introducing us all... you have created a little heaven there... a pet peacock is just too perfect... how much fun it must be to see him with his feathers all fanned out magnificently. After my beloved dog had passed I went to a farm to look at a new St Bernard puppy. Needless to say I was still sad. As we pulled in the drive, a peacock came out and displayed his magnificent tail feathers. I said "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" and my spirits just rose. I will never see a peacock without thinking of that moment (and I got my beloved dog that day) and how it lifted my spirits.


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