Category Archives: All

All post on all subjects

Roman miles in the French Ardennes

I always like to imagine what a place looked like in ancient times. Who walked here, what happened and how did it became what it is today. Tourteron build on a small ridge must obviously have a rich history. And we’re not talking about the two wars of the last century.

During the Gallo-Roman period the Ardennes were a part of Gallia Belgica. It was populated by the Remi and other tribes. Possibly the Remi lived here since the ridge offers natural protection. There are still only two ways into town. It must have been a good choice to settle here.


France during the Roman period

As we know the Romans build routes in all directions. Reims (60km south of Tourteron) was a true interchange of that time. For instance it’s on the road from Rome to England and from Central France to Cologne. That road must have passed Tourteron in a certain radius since it connect Reims and Charleville-Meziérès. Although back then there was only Meziérès. Charleville was erected from scratch only 1600 years later.

In the Roman period Meziérès was called Castricum.

The best proof that the Ardennes played a role in ancient Roman time is a forgotten battle.
Julius Caesar himself went to battle here at Bibrax, now an insignificant little village south of Laon. The so called Battle of the Axona (Aisne) was fought in 57 BC, between the Roman army of Gaius Julius Caesar and the united Belgae. Over 300.000 soldiers were defeated by the only 40.000 men under Caesar.

You can still see the fortress of Bibrax in the fields between Laon and Soissons.

The Roman almost paved the Ardennes with roads and military camps. Some camps turned into towns. The traditional shape of the castellum can still be seen in Ambonnay, La Neuville-en-Tourne-à-Fuy and Suippes. Mostly with a rectangular north/south and east west lay-out.

map of ambonnay

Both castra were carefully planned to protect the road. Ambonnay to protect the road between Reims (Durocortorum) and Chalons-en-Champagne (Durocatalauni). Suippes to protect the road from Chalons-en-Champagne to Cologne passing Attigny and possibly Tourteron.

So maybe – really maybe – we might have seen ox carriages passing our mill a little 2000 years ago.

ox carriage

About the battle of the Axona

About castellums

About Roman roadsée_romaine

About Miles

Leave a comment

Filed under All, History, Tourism

Wicker Basket Plant Protection

Don’t you just hate it when your perennials collapse half ways the season? Mid winter or early spring I can’t wait to see my beautiful arranged flower beds to pop out of the ground for a new season of colorful surprises. They grow proudly till the first heavy rain or hail breaks the perennials and gone is the order. Multi-stalk perennials literally fall apart, stems flopping in every direction to expose the ugly bare center. It’s chaos. I know plants do that in nature and I whould just give in if I don’t want overpriced flower support structures or bamboo sticks sticking out all over my lovely garden.

I was desperate untill I watched the first episode of The Edible Garden with Alys Fowler. Here she explains how easy it is to create your own flower supports from willow twigs.

Now being a rather handy man and having a few willow trees in my garden I thought: “Let’s try and creating some of my own.”. I’ve designed these three types after what I saw. Type 1, the Whisk, has an open and flexible top to leave space for the perennial to grow within some borders. Type 2, the Basket, is exactly that, a basket, keeping the plant straight up. Type 3, the Fish Pod, is a trial for perennials that grow higher than 1,5 meter like Aster and Rudbeckia.


Since it’s winter time I have time on my hands to give it a first try and see how it goes. This step by step manual by Jonathan Ridgeon will help me get through the first basics.

It didn’t work out so smooth as I hoped it would. But this is the first basket I’ve made. More to come. Keeping you posted.

Home made Wicker Basket

My first home made Wicker Basket

Leave a comment

Filed under All, Gardening

Dead Hedge

Homemade Dead Hedge

Homemade Dead Hedge

Today was fun. I’ve started building a dead hedge.


  1. I needed a storage for dead wood, branches and twigs that fall out of the trees or are cut away by pruning.
  2. I needed a ‘fence’.
  3. I needed a cheap solution for 1 and 2.
What did it take?
  1. Some BBC inspiration
  2. 1 large Hazel tree
  3. Neclected corner of the garden with dead wood
  4. 1 Saw
  5. 1 Soil-drill
  6. 4 hours
  7. 2 men
How did it work?

First I got inspired by the recent BBC Series: Tudor Monastery Farm. The first episode finds the farm team, Tom, Peter en Ruth arriving at Weald & Downland in West Sussex. Peter shows how to build a dead hedge from fresh cut hazel poles and  dead wood. Dead hedges are useful in habitat conservation and restoration ecology, as they offer shelter for small animals, especially birds and hedgehogs. It’s super organic gardening.

Then I thought… “I have got hazel bushes in my garden and lots of dead wood. It’s great weather and I’m with my friend Bart who enjoys a day of physical labour. Let’s just do it. It doesn’t hurt to try.” 6 hours later the dead hedge was a fact.

It’s rather a simple, almost mediaval way of making a fence. You cut minimal 5 cm thick straight uprising branches of a Hazel. Saw them into poles of 1,5 meter. Remove all smaller twigs and save them for the hedge filling. Drill 50 cm deep holes in the ground and place the poles somethng like 50 to 70 cm apart. Put the poles in the ground and start filling the space in between the poles with branches and twigs. The poles must be something like 1,5 meter from each  other.

dead hedge instructions

dead hedging

Leave a comment

Filed under All, Gardening

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. And I love it.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Leave a comment

Filed under All

Getting Fresh Ideas at Floriade 2012

Did you ever visit a garden fair where you experienced a green overkill? Every 10 years there’s the Dutch Floriade that gives you just that. It’s 163 acres of endless flower park.

This year 2012 it was held near the city of Venlo in the south of the Netherlands. We went just on time because even though it takes 10 years to build, the park is only open April 5 through October 7. And it’s amazing.

Here a quick idea of the themed borders…

Education & Innovation

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under All, Gardening

Unexpected history nearby


Helmets (Photo credit: GregPC)

Are you a home historian? An amateur archeologist?

Well, –I must admit– I am. 🙂 I truly love to talk about history, interpretend facts and figures and make up stories when I’m at historical locations. I like to watch docs on ancient battles like on BBC or History Channel. And I’m totally addicted to visit monasteries. I even tried to start a blog on the subject. It’s probably the boy in me.

Yet, sometimes I make a real discovery.

This time I’ve found the remains of a giant castle Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under All, History

Echinacea stole my heart

You must have a favorite flower. Everybody does. Some love tulips or sunflowers, others melt with the scent of roses. For me they are too average. It’s Echinacea or Cone Flower that stole my heart. They just do it for me. I think they are embedded in our genes since every child draws a coneflower if they are asked to draw a flower. They are the flowers amongst flowers. Their fair shaped paddles, their bright colors, their yellow to brown cones. They resemble the architype of a flower.

Echinacea have a long history of being Continue reading


Filed under All, Gardening

Oudolf’s Gardening Inspiration

If you spend a lot of time in your garden, you know: Gardening is therapeutic. It liberates, revitalises and de-stresses. Whether it’s the flowers, the green or the dirt, the humming of the bees or the combination of these facts, we will never know. Being outside, picking weeds, seeing flowers bloom and seasons shift, I think it’s fantastic. You recreate nature to indulge in its beauty.

One man who is currently a rising star in landscaping knows how to recreate nature. This weekend I’ve visited his gardens in Hummelo, the Netherlands. It’s a must see for garden fanatics. His view on gardening with unimaginable combinations of Continue reading


Filed under All, Gardening

Brocantes and Such Hunt

Who said Alladin is not gay? Look at him in his girly underwear.

Brocantes is a French hobby that attracks a lot of tourists. Some people just love to run from one to the other to find a cheap bowl or the best bargain. I’ve set up this quick list with the best sites. Asking your local neighbors is useful as well… sometimes they simply kill a brocante if they don’t have enough participants.

To find something near Supergites… We’re in the Ardennes, that’s 08. Near by is northern 51 and 55…

Happy Hunting…

Leave a comment

Filed under All, Tourism

Appeltern’s Gardening Walhalla

Are you –like me– always looking for gardening inspiration? I’ve ignored the poring rain this weekend and decided to go and see it the source of my Pinterest flower pictures. I went to see the true Gardening Walhalla in the middle of the Netherlands, only one hour drive from Amsterdam. It’s called the “Gardens of Appeltern“. Over 200 sample gardens, some great some just silly, show endless ideas for border combinations, pavement concepts, terraces, furniture and art. On their site they state:  Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under All, Gardening