a french garden

Garden Patrol

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I make regular patrols round the garden, keeping an eye out for the nasties and trying to nip any problems in the bud.  Well, it sounds virtuous and it is a lot easier than weeding.

Happy lily

I keep an eye open for red lily beetle, so feared and hated in the U.K. but so far no problems here.  Perhaps in the countryside my lilies are more isolated and there are not enough hosts for the beetle to take hold.

It is good to see I am being helped in the garden. I’m not sure what the ladybird was eating but she was giving the Echinacea bud a thorough grooming. There are a lot of ladybirds in the garden this year on the flowers and on the vegetables.

I do tend to be distracted by the insects in the garden but the flowers and trees get attention too.

Pomegranate flower

Will the pomegranate grown from seed by my husband ever have fruit?

Hazelnuts ripening

The green hazelnut tree is coming on nicely.

Red hazelnuts ripening

The red hazelnut tree leaves are losing their dark red tinge and taking on a green colour now.  But who will get the most hazelnuts this year, us or that red squirrel that just discovered our garden last year?

Chestnuts just forming

Will we get chestnuts for the first time from our chestnut tree?

Then I check out the Buddleias for butterflies.  I planted them as they are extremely fast growing and smell very good when they are in flower, just what I needed to fill up the emptiness along the fence when we moved in to the house. I never regret planting them but they get heavily pruned with the chain saw in the autumn.

Swallow tail butterfly – Papilio machaon

However, I never have found them especially good at attract butterflies – but there is always the exception.

Papilio machaon chrysalis

Actually, I am sure it had nothing to do with the Buddleias.  It was really my tomatoes that attracted him into the garden.  I had found a chrysalis of the Swallowtail earlier on a tomato plant and it was empty when I went to check on it after I saw the butterfly.  I cannot prove it was the butterfly from the chrysalis as I did not see it emerge but I am tempted to think that my tomato plants do a better job at attracting butterflies than my Buddleias do.

Pink Hollyhock

Should I have more Hollyhocks next year?  They are very popular with my bumbles and I never have to sow them as they self seed.  I just have to dig up the seedling and put it where I want it; I like all the colours so what comes up will be a surprise.

The bumble bees seem to have so much fun in the Hollyhocks turning round and round and becoming coated in pollen.  I thought they were after the pollen but now I’m not sure.  I can see them drinking from the base of the stamens and they do not appear to be carrying excessively heavy pollen sacs.

There must be some nectar or sap which is worth collecting.  They seem to be only holding onto the stamens to give them a good grip to reach the base of the flower with their proboscis.

Oh well, back to the weeding.

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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.

11 thoughts on “Garden Patrol

  1. You are lucky the lily beetle hasn’t found your lilies. My garden is also isolated and miles from other lilies but the dreaded red devils found the Madonna lilies soon after they emerged from the ground. They love the longifoliums too but Regals are less effected. Christina

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  2. Great pictures. Hazel nuts, what a treat. We are a big pastachio growing area and I love to see the bees working the fields.

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  3. Beautiful pictures! ~ judy

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  4. Yes, like Christina lily beetles have discovered the Priory and we’re about a third of a mile from the nearest house – hateful things. I do like hollyhocks but they’ve always suffered so terribly from rust that I’ve given up on them. Do yours not? Dave

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    • Towards the end of the season they can become a bit tatty and the lower leaves do get marked. However, they support harsh sun and getting dried out with no complaints and look good through the summer. They can get planted, and I do that, along outside walls where they get the minimum of care. They are very popular in this region and it would be difficult to find a picture postcard without them in it. I don’t treat mine at all but I sometimes take out an old plant at the end of the season if I think the leaves look unhealthy. We have very strong sunshine here and I think that is what keeps the problem in check. Amelia

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  5. Lovely post! I love exploring people’s gardens. Being able to amble round a French garden is a plus. My buddleias do not do a very good job at attracting butterflies either. Perhaps that is a myth? Although I do remember my aunt’s bush being covered in red admirals, when I was a child and staying with her. I was fascinated. Never see red admirals any more. I grow hollyhocks for the bees. It is quite tricky to find singles in the garden centres and nurseries over here but I snap them up whenever I see them and they do self seed nicely for me which is good as after a couple of years the old plants get too rusty and have to go. A bad year for bees and butterflies over here with all the rain. That swallowtail shot is gorgeous!

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    • Interesting that you have not had great success recently with buddleias. We get red admirals around here but not on the buddleias. As you say, is it a myth? I wonder if we get any more comments.

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  6. You do not seem to have any nasties in your garden only lovelies! I love the photos of bumbles getting covered all over in pollen – they are so much messier than honeybees but look like they have much more fun!

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    • I’ll try and find a nasty for you! I do have a lot of chafers but you perhaps like them. I have posted a photo of a rose chafer and a May bug, which is a chafer, on the 1st of May. I think the bumbles do look as if they have more fun the proper bees look more business like.

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