a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Field of sunflowers


This is a special time in the Charente- Maritime region.  The sunflower fields are in full bloom.  I look forward to the sunflower season in this area, as you drive around you can see acres of sunflower fields.  It is a fairly flat region and you can see the yellow fields stretching off to the horizon to meet up with the blue sky.  The main crop is still the grape vines but the grape vines are overshadowed by the display of sunflowers just now.

There is a small sunflower field, nestled in between the vines,  just 200 metres from the house and I decided to keep a record of it flowering.

The sunflower, Helianthus annuus, or tournesol in French, turns towards the sun.  Well, sort of, they had me fooled.

Seemingly they do follow the sun as they are growing and while the shoots are flexible enough.  However, once they are in flower their stiff stems are too inflexible to continue the motion and the heads point towards the rising sun.  Certainly mine turned their backs on the setting sun and are facing a constant SE.

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.

7 thoughts on “Field of sunflowers

  1. It’s fascinating to see that the sunflowers in your region are just flowering, the sunflowers here in our area flowered weeks ago and are well over now. Lovely photos and I like the record you have kept of their progress 🙂


  2. Good for you, Amelia. I do like a series of sequential shots. I’ve only grown really big sunflowers two or three times. Grown well, they have to be the most satisfying of annuals. D


  3. Sun flowers always make me smile. I believe they follow the sun (although often only until mid-afternoon and then they turn back ready for the rising sun) until they are pollinated from which time they stop turning. Umbria has fields and fields of them, Lazio less. there are also many different size flower heads and different height plants, I haven’t worked out why the farmers choose a particular type. Christina


    • I expect your fields are over now. The farmers seem to plant them at staggered times here, probably according to their own time availability, my field is a late one. We also get a lot of self-seeded ones early in the season in odd places which are very good to cut and bring in to the house as nobody wants them.


  4. Lovely. We grew the really tall ones here for a few years, for the children. But we haven’t grown any recently. An omission I must put right after seeing your lovely shots. Next year!


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