a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

See you next year!


Purple crocus

I didn’t plant any bulbs this year.  In fact, I think I dislike planting bulbs more than weeding.  I am a great reader of labels and it causes me great anguish as I put the bulbs into the soil.  I worry – have I placed them too deeply or are they too near the surface.  I try to measure, I try to avoid disturbing the roots of other plants no longer visible.

White crocus

Then there is the weather.  The ground can often be dry and very unwilling to give way to my prodding and digging.


If planting bulbs is difficult – I find that not buying them is even more difficult and going a step further – restraining my husband from surreptitiously sliding a large packet into the trolley.


It’s during our visits to the UK after the bulb planting season has passed and the prices of bulbs are slashed and you feel almost obliged to re-home them.

Whte crocus

The illustrations on the packets of bulbs are so tempting.  You don’t think of crouching in the borders in the cold trying to find a space for the new arrivals.

Purple and yellow crocus

But last year I was strong and resisted temptation.

Lilac crocus

Now I feel I have been too harsh.  The crocus have been flowering from the 13 February and are just finishing now.  They provide patches of bright colour at what has been a dull time of year and have flowered even more plentifully than last year.

Spring bulbs

They are starting to be overshadowed by the other bulbs which are arriving now.


But by the time the daffodils arrive I am becoming much more blasé about the flowers opening out.


The crocus don’t smell as good as the hyacinth but they lift my spirits and they brighten the garden for more than a month.

Yellow crocus
I really regret all the muttering that went on as I planted the bulbs in previous years.  They have more than rewarded me for the time and money spent and hopefully I’ll see even more of them next year.

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.

29 thoughts on “See you next year!

  1. You have some wonderful colours of crocus there!

    I’m a bit like your husband I think… I like the colour that bulbs bring…
    but Pauline is not a great fan of planting them, either.
    I never worry how deep… I use the following rule and it seems to work…
    base of bulb sitting at a depth of twice the height…
    same for crocus corms… although I had to rescue some that were in “the front bed” and just jammed them back in with a covering of soil and a “Here be crocus” label… they have given a ‘bootiful’ show this year.
    One of our fellow allotmenteers gave me that tip. He dug his daffs and narcis up each year, once the leaves died back, let them dry out and replanted in September. Same with his Gladioli…
    only they’d overwinter in the greenhouse with the Dahlia corms.
    We weren’t allowed to sell produce…
    but I think he had a “market” for the cut stems!


  2. I, too , experienced “bulb fatigue” this year! I decided this year I was not going through the stress of having voles, squirrels, and the Summer heat and drought killing bulbs I spend good money in purchasing. So I am going to spend that money on annual! I hope we have plenty of rain this year!


    • You have to go with what works best for your garden, I never pamper my plants but go for the kinds that grow easily. We have been suffering from low rainfall for a few years but this winter has been the wettest for about 40 years. I hope you get plenty of rain for your annuals.


  3. Hi
    I really enjoyed this post, not least because it described my feelings about bulbs exactly! You have a lovely collection of crocuses. I especially like those really deep blue/purple ones nestling in with the yellow.
    I am on a bit of a hiatus with blogging at he moment as I have a big deadline looming. I hope to be back in force later next month. All the best, Rachael


  4. I am very lazy about planting bulbs. I put them and hope they will multiply as each year passes. Your flowers are lovely.


  5. I adore bulbs and have to restrain myself from buying too many! I was strong willed in 2011 and didn’t plant any but last year I added lots more. I love the way they fill that space between winter and the end of spring when everything flowers at once and I can’t resist the colours od tulips. Christina


  6. I’m experimenting this year with bulbs ‘in the green’ – at least I know that one year of bloom is guaranteed, and have instant gratification. It will be interesting to see if they come back next year.
    I can’t seem to move on from planting daffodils – your article has inspired me to give crocuses a try, come October – thanks.


    • Snowdrops are supposed to take better planted in the green but it is a bit late now for them. At least crocus are cheap so it doesn’t cost much to experiment and you’ll get some colour before your daffodils.


  7. You have a beatiful collection, which I’m sure makes all the trials and tribulations worth it. Bulbs are a great way to extend the growing season and gardens would be sadder places without them.


    • I agree. This year I’m going to try and get some things established under the trees at the bottom of the garden that will come up in the spring and not mind the lack of light in the summer.


      • Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) are very fragrant and prefer shade but I’m not sure if you have them there. They are a rugged plant that can stand a lot of dryness.


        • Great minds…Lily of the valley grows very well here, it can take a bit to get established but then you’ve got it. I have already started with a small patch with under the trees that should come up at the end of April if they they have survived. I have also put in a few muscari bulbs but these are both at the edge as I have a lot of ivy to clear yet.


  8. Your hyacinths and hellebore make a lovely combination. I find I can always count on daffodils ;-). The squirrels leave the bulbs alone, the deer and rabbits leave the foliage and flowers alone and they come back every year. They are a cheerful splash of colour on a rainy spring day.


  9. What wonderful color! Lucky you in your temperate climate, enjoying a warm spring full of flowers. Thanks for the vicarious experience!


  10. I hear your thoughts and frustrations with bulbs, your results are, still, quite amazing. Your photos are gorgeous.


  11. A lovely collection of colour. I am amazed how my few crocuses have multiplied since last year. Take care Diane


  12. I think you must be an expert planting bulbs. And so much revarded for the effort.


  13. Absolutely gorgeous shots of the crocuses – so vivid!


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