a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A drop of blood on the lace


Back in July I took a photograph of a wild carrot flower (Daucus carota) that had one red flowerlet in the flower head.

Daucus carota in the woods

I loved to see the rebel standing out amongst all of the pure white wild carrot flowers.  I kept my eye out for more variation in the sea of pure white heads.

Completely white flower head

My single red floweret was definitely unusual.

Sole red flowerlet

Then I wondered why?  Was it a genetic mutation about to take over the white Daucus carota world?

After my last post I wondered if it harboured an alien invader.  Perhaps it had some mysterious mosaic virus but it really looked too healthy and the colouration wasn’t streaky.

I looked it up in Wikipedia which brought me back to reality.  It is a natural variant although the red flower/all white flower proportion seems to vary from area to area.  Daucus carota has even a common name, Queen Anne’s Lace (Queen Anne being the wife of James VI of Scotland) because of the flower’s lacy appearance.  The little red flowerlet is the drop of blood that was spilt when the queen pricked her finger whilst making the lace, according to the legend.

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.

15 thoughts on “A drop of blood on the lace

  1. I like your loyalty to your Scotish roots, for other readers she was wife of James the 1st of the United countries of England, Scotland and Ireland. Very pretty flower and well observed it must have been difficult to see in a sea of plants. Christina


  2. That’s a beautiful example of the red flower. It is occasionally present here, mostly more brown than red, but I had never noticed it until I came to Germany. (When I saw one the first time I thought it was a piece of dirt and tried to pick it off!) Really lovely photo – I love the way the flowerheads then curl in on themselves after flowering.


    • Interesting that there is a colour change towards brown in Germany. Wiki suggested that it was red to attract insects but I personally did not buy that as the white umbelliferes are always full of insects.


  3. I have seen a lot of Queen Anne’s lace here in the US (it is categorized as an invasive weed), but have never observed that red variant. It might be there, and I just never saw it — but I will pay more close attention now. Thanks for the information.


  4. How strange, and beautiful. I have never seen anything like this. The red one is also much bigger than the rest…


  5. How beautiful! I wonder why the red flower is so much larger?


  6. Perhaps it does not share its space with any other flowerlets and gets more nutrition? I’ll look more closely next year.


  7. une fleur de carotte transgénique!:)


  8. I have photographed Queen Anne’s lace, both the flowers and the seeds, but I have never seen this. What a find.


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