a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

It’s spring, it’s official

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Today the sun was out, tempting me out into the garden again.

The long cold spell has taken its toll.  It does not look like my garden as I know it at this time of year.  I have iris leaves turned black and looking more like some exotic grass species.  I go around pondering the toll of the freezing weather we have had.

Then I see a friend basking in the sunshine, settled on the frozen remains of my climbing rose “Madame Isaac Pereire”.  I am so glad to see her back as the little green tree frogs are very welcome visitors but I have been concerned that the bitter weather had taken its toll on them too.

I spot another one in the well outside our dining room window.  The well is a favourite spot and is the haunt of the frogs, newts and lizards.  Not such a good place to be if you were an insect, I guess.  They are well camouflaged (no pun intended!) against the ferns but often come out when it rains.  She is called La Rainette in this area and if I read my favourite website (http://www.herpfrance.com/fr/  ) correctly Hyla arborea in Latin.

The lizards are active in the sunshine and I managed to photograph a little one before it hid in a hole in the wall of the house.  Once again I think these must be Podarcis muralis but I am quite happy to be corrected on that.  They provide unlimited amusement with their antics, scampering over the patio and walls in the sunshine.

It is the sunshine and warmth that I look forward to.  Today I saw a sign that is a sure harbinger of spring.  This afternoon I took a walk in the countryside and spotted butterflies.  One was brown coloured and more shy, veering off quickly into the woods.  The other was more friendly and was happy to warm itself up on the asphalt track – just long enough to get a photograph, a peacock butterfly.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

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