a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

The garden in July


White Wisteria

The garden in July is different this year.  The Wisteria is flowering for the second time.

Blue Wisteria

The blue was the first one out in May but the white one pipped it to the post this time.  Usually they have a second bloom much later so I wonder if they will bloom three times this year.  Perhaps it was all that rain in the winter and spring.

Bee in pumpkin

The garden can play tricks with you.  I went out to check the pumpkin flowers this morning, as last year they had a beautiful perfume.  I got quite excited as I thought I could see a yellow bee – but no, just a very well pollinated pumpkin and a pollen covered bee.  Unfortunately, the pumpkins have no perfume this year but they are a different variety.  Pity as the perfume was really heady last year.


The garden in July is very perfumed.  It is not just the obvious flowers like the lilies.


We have a good number of Buddleia and some even hang over from the next door garden.


The lavender is just opening now, not only to our delight but to the insects in search of nectar.  All of the perfumes intermingle, even the wild mint in the grass.


The garden in July is full of distractions.  I am seeing so many new bees I can’t keep up with them.  I was pleased when I noticed these ones today as they were moving so quickly in the lavender, just like the Anthophora plumipes moved in the Cerinthe at the end of April.  I could see males with similar but white faces instead of yellow.


A quick close-up on the dining room table and he is definitely a male Anthophora but I have not had time to find out what species – if indeed I will be able to.


The garden in July has drama.  Do you see the blurry white form behind the bumble?

Crab spider

The Echinacea are a magnet for all sorts of insects but this morning a crab spider was sitting waiting for them with open arms.  the bumble seemed unaware and although I feel I shouldn’t interfere with nature I knocked the spider of his perch.

Spider with butterfly

Only hours later I noticed the spider was back and had caught a Peacock butterfly.  My husband was there and he could not watch the butterfly in the spider’s grasp and had little hesitation in tampering with nature.  Sorry spider lovers but the fate of the spider was not a happy one.


Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum

The garden in July is never lonely.  Something is always flying past you or smiling at you.

Baby toad

Natterjack toad Bufo calamita.

This baby toad quickly hopped under the shade of the strawberries.  I am seeing more baby frogs and toads in the garden this year.


These brimstone butterflies (Gonepteryx rhamni I think) were all over the Echinacea and nearby lavender.  (Perhaps it was just as well the spider was disposed off.)

Red poppy

The garden in July is lots of bees.  They are in the poppies.

Blue geranium

They are in the geraniums.

Tree bumble bee

And they love my flowering leeks!  Today was the first time I had seen a tree bumble bee (Bombus hypnorum) in the garden even though they are a European species.  I saw my first tree bumble bee in Surrey a few weeks ago.  They only arrived in the UK in 2001 but are now very common in parts of Surrey.

July in the garden for me is certainly the bees.  Even this morning, sitting having coffee, some pollen laden bees disappeared into the soil in front of the bench I was sitting on.  Some more solitary bees to investigate!

Borlotti beans

The garden in July is also full of hope.  I hope the borlotti beans keep on growing.

Sweet pea teepee

I hope I might be able to grow sweet peas this year.  I’ve never succeeded yet.  They are on a teepee in the potager receiving intesive care.  I’ve said I’ll never try again and this really is my last attempt but I do love their perfume and I have specially chosen the seeds of highly perfumed sweet peas.

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.

32 thoughts on “The garden in July

  1. Garden bounty–for the people and the bees!


    • We are really enjoying the garden just now but as the temperatures are staying in the 30’s centigrade with no rain or cooling down forecast I’m wondering how long its going to keep feeling good.


  2. Some lovely bee shots there. You’re obviously better than I at getting them in focus before they move again! 😀


  3. Your dragonfly is a mature female Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum. The toad is a Natterjack Bufo calamita. Your Brimstone ID is correct. I’d never seen B. hypnorum in the Touraine until just a few weeks ago and I could never work out why. It should be one of the ubiquitous species. I’ve seen it in Charente some years ago.


  4. Your photos are really lovely, especially the clear close ups of the bees. Bees in my garden are loving the lavender too, but also the Centranthus and the wild rose, which smells wonderful.


    • Thank you. The bees all seem to like roses if they are not the ones that have tightly curled centres. With the perfume for you and the pollen for the bees the wild rose is sharing its favours. Amelia


  5. Awesome shots, and great reading . . . except the poor spider.


  6. I saw what I think was a white faced bee today that I’m having a rad time identifying it. It’s a huge thing and I’m not even positive that it’s a bee. Glad to see that you have plenty working in your garden.


    • Everything in the States seems to be bigger than in Europe so it wouldn’t surprise me if your bees were bigger too. I suppose you have eliminated your white faced hornets that you get. It is very annoying when you can’t get an ID on something you’ve seen. Amelia


  7. Wow, lots of lively insects in your garden! This is a low year for us, lots of flowers, but few pollinators.


  8. I’ve given up on sweet peas, Amelia but only because they are so time consuming. I love them but daily picking really eats into my available time. (I for one feel sorry for the spider)! D


  9. You do have a lot of bees. My feeling is that we have a lot less this year, maybe it is the weather, I’m not sure.


  10. When I see a crab spider in wait for bees I feel really conflicted. The spider needs to eat, but poor bees! I have not killed any yet but would rescue any bees I saw struggling. The baby toad is very sweet.


    • I do struggle, as I feel you shouldn’t interfere with nature but I must confess I’ve squashed a few of those little flies around my bee houses once I realised they were parasitic on Mason bees. Amelia


  11. Wonderful pictures! Such a beautiful variety of bees and butterflies. I love the yellow pollen covered bee.


  12. I am so amazed that a pumpkin flower can have a perfume. Did you keep the bee hive?


    • I was amazed last year and disappointed this year that it is not all pumpkins! Michel took the bee hive and the bees back to his house where he has quite a few hives. I have not decided whether I can commit to keeping bees. I love the bees but we do not eat so much honey.


      • It would be a commitment for sure. I have grown sweet peas almost every year but I may not do so this year. The Bees seem totally disinterested in them but, perhaps, that is because there is so much phacelia and borage around to distract them.


        • That’s interesting about sweet peas, I would have thought the bees would love them but perhaps the borage is too much competition. I grew phacelia for the first time this year but they have not shown much interest in it. I expect it depends on what are the common types of bees in your area.


  13. Love your bee photos, as always, and the pollen covered one especially. I have never had any trouble growing sweet peas here on Vancouver Island. I guess it is the upside of our cool, rainy climate.


  14. That is a lot of nature for a garden. Wonderful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s