a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


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November in the Garden

After three weeks with the family in the U.K. I returned to survey the garden.

Hydrangea

Some plants have definitely decided it is autumn.

Cosmos

Others are hanging in and pretending its still summer.

Liquidambar

My Liquidamabar is still growing and looking healthy even though I moved it last year.  I bought it before I realised it did not like chalky soil and I keep thinking it will die soon.  I love the trees and shrubs with red autumn leaves but it seems as if they all need acid soil, if there are any exceptions I would be pleased to hear about them.

Fuschia Riccartonnii

I prefer my plants to be happy and not struggling against soil and climate conditions.   The fuschia Riccartonnii still has flowers and does very well in this area becoming a reliable perennial in the garden.

Tagetes patula

The French Marigolds stood sentinel over the plants in the vegetable garden, withstood the sun beating on them in the front garden and were still here to welcome me home, pushing their way through the weeds.  Not a bad performance from flowers that produce plenty of seed each year that I can sow directly into the soil where I want them in the spring.  Not forgetting the little posies to decorate the table.

Clematis tangutica “Helios”

I’m not a mad fan of clematis but I do like my Helios, I grew it from seed and I enjoy its yellow flowers in summer and the fluffy seed heads in the autumn.

Physalis alkekengi – Chinese Lantern Plant

I do try and brighten up the garden but it is a difficult job when everything is damp and dull.

Why are the black grapes so late this year?

The plants seem to clash with grapes on one side and brussel sprouts on the other.

Brussels are ready to go

Cotoneaster

I have lots of clumps of cotoneaster in the garden, once again a very easy tolerant shrub and the red berries are very much appreciated by the blackbirds and thrushes.

Bombus lucorum, white tailed bumble bee

I was so pleased that my Arbutus unedo is just starting to flower.  The flowers provide valuable nectar and they will be hopefully followed by small red fruits similar in shape to strawberries which give the tree its common name of the Strawberry Tree.

Drone fly

The delicate, white bell-shaped flowers appear to produce lots of nectar as the bees feed for a long time on each flower.

Drone fly et al.

This plant is a native of the Mediterranean region but  I have seen expansive tracts of it in the Lake Lacanau area and it grows in the woods around us.  I have also seen attractive specimens in the UK so it must be able to adapt to a variety of climates and conditions.

Glossy green leaves

I chose it so that I could see it from my bedroom window in the winter time as it is evergreen.  This is the first year it has flowered so I will look forward to seeing the fruits for the first time.  In due course the bark becomes an attractive feature and can be quite red, but my tree is still too young.

Not a bee

Although I like to think that the Strawberry Tree provides valuable nectar for the bees and bumble bees it has a much more generous nature than I have and shares its nectar with a variety of “pollenating insects” and doesn’t have a “bees only” sign.

Winter honeysuckle

At the far end of the back garden the Winter Honeysuckle has also just started to flower.  Another tough plant that I love.  I’ve put it in a dry spot on the edge of the garden to provide screening.

Lonicera fragrantissima

For the tough love it gets from me it provides me with small white perfumed blossom and pink-tinged buds.  An annual prune keeps it in shape and last spring I took some cuttings that were layering at its base and they are now waiting to be planted (when I get round to it).  I would like some more bushes in the garden as they provide the bees with nectar throughout the winter, last year it was still flowering at the end of March.

Remember this bush for the cold days ahead!