a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

After the Storm


Fallen ash tree

On Friday night 26 July a storm raged across the garden.

Fallen branches

The wind flew past at 150 kilometres and hour and 58 centimetres of rain fell.  The rain was welcome but the wind was scary.  We sat watching the spectacle with our oldest granddaughter.  The storm seemed to stay overhead for a long time with a constant flickering interspersed with impressive forked lightening.

Changed skyline

The next morning the garden was different.  The skyline had changed at the bottom but we didn’t notice the missing tree top immediately as lots of large Ash branches had fallen on the left hand side of the garden making access difficult.

Topped Christmas tree

The ex-Christmas tree had been summarily lopped.

Top of tree

The wind has made a very neat job and saved us the trouble as the tree is becoming over-sized.

Fallen branch

This was not the case for most of the fallen branches.  The fallen branches caused a lot of work and it took us four days to clear away the debris to the bottom of the garden, stacking the larger logs for  further cutting for the fire and smaller branches for a bonfire in September when burning in the garden will be permitted.  No possibility of removing the debris – it has to be seen to understand the quantity involved.  We haven’t had the heart to look too closely at the very bottom.  some trees are down and large branches will have to be cut up but we are too tired to start and we want to enjoy time with the grandchildren who are visiting.

Telephone line down

Across the road a branch of our neighbour’s Ash tree fell on the telephone line where it lay for over a week cutting us off from the Internet.  We did manage to check our emails once by going to MacDonalds.  Thank you, thank you MacDonalds.

We also lost our electricity during the storm, which is a common occurrence in France – a heavily wooded country with overhead power and overhead telephone wires.  We were fortunate and were reconnected on Saturday afternoon.  All those broad beans from this year’s monster crop saved!

Nobody was hurt in the vicinity and it was a fairly localised storm although random storms have been blasting all of France during this exceptionally hot and thundery July.  The Sunflower and maize fields suffered.

Herve's maize

The maize field at the bottom of our garden was flattened but the good news is that it is all standing to attention again!  Perhaps all the rain gave it strength to recover.

Fallen cross

The cross at the entry of the village wasn’t so lucky.

Fallen cross

I doubt whether it will be replaced.  It was quite a landmark with its magnificent lavender bush.

Please excuse the lack of communication on my part.

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.

33 thoughts on “After the Storm

  1. What dramatic weather! Such a pity about the damage to the Village Cross and so many trees, but a relief that no one was hurt. Hope that the damage can be repaired. No shortage of wood for the winter, I suppose. Wishing you all the best. Mark


    • Thank you. We will have a lot of wood but the Ash can be burnt in the first year which will help. We have already ordered our wood for this winter and it will arrive any day now. Stacking wood is not a favourite pastime of mine – hope it arrives on a cooler day as it just gets dumped on our doorstep.


      • If we can get any Ash in out firewood supply we are really delighted. It can’t be beaten as a log to burn. I agree with the log stacking point – it always arrives when you have less time to deal with it. However now we tend to treat stacking as a challenge, something between an art form and a three dimensional puzzle; rather akin,as I imagine it, to dry stone walling. The problem is then that we spoil it when we start to use the logs! One of those little things….


  2. Such destruction from one night of wind. Isn’t Mother Nature impressive when she sets her mind to it.

    I’m so glad nothing fell onto your house or car. It mainly looks like back-breaking work to clear up, but the damage is manageable. Except for that lovely cross 😦 What a shame.


    • We were fortunate with the damage considering the wind. It is a warning and we must get two large Ash trees nearer the house lopped for safety’s sake but that will be a job for the professionals.


  3. Climate change or climate weirdness as some of our friends are beginning to call it is having devastating effects on so many areas across the world, only on Friday I read about the devastation of the Botanic Garden in Clemson US, the storms we had here didn’t do any damage this time but often do. I am glad you and your grandchildren are safe, the garden will wait and will heal. Christina


    • It could have been a lot worse but I have learnt that it is not wise to have too tall trees in the garden. The Ash actually were planted by the next door neighbours and so we did not like to touch them but now we realise we will have to take some action.


  4. My sympathy for your trees, but thank goodness your freezer produce was saved. Although I love the excitement of storms I also dread them. We have lost a few trees in the past, but we try and see it positive – firewood for the winter! (Even if it does entail a lot of hard work!) I hope you are spared any more this year.


  5. You have had it worse than us. We had a truly spectactular storm with lots of sound and light (and good rain), then the next night a less spectacular storm, with lots of wind (and good rain) and we’ve had a couple of storms since, luckily all with good rain and no hail. Not much damage has been done here, and the rain has been very welcome (gives the farmers a day off from harvesting too).

    Think of how devastated some of the great gardens were in the UK after the hurricane, and how they now see it as a blessing in disguise because it opened up places and showed them new things that they never would have done or discovered without the storm. The account by the head gardener at Nymans is particularly worth reading.


    • I think inland areas in the Charente area have been getting more repeated storms than we have just now. It has made us think of the importance of keeping trees manageable in small gardens. It is good to think of the positive long term view too.


  6. My goodness, what a storm. I think I would have been hiding under a bed. I hate fierce storms. Best of luck and wishing you lots of energy for the clean up.


  7. Oh dear, we got the storm the next day but whereas it destroyed the gardens of friends we were very lucky. In Ireland we experienced far worse storms though. Glad you’re okay. Wonder whether the knocked over cross is a sign from heaven? 😉


  8. I always love the fury of a good storm. It’s a good thing, too, as the weirdness promises many more in the future. We think we’re tucked up safe and sound in our homes, but they are like matchsticks, when hit by a tree. And then there’s the lull, afterwards. The electronic silence. How soon we forget that all our conveniences are so delicately balanced on those skinny suspended wires.


  9. We frequently have high winds here on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, but usually only in the winter. The power lines are overhead and there are many trees, so large areas can have their power knocked out. I agree with the comment about places being opened up when trees fall. It’s all a perfect system when you look at the big picture. It’s just our puny structures that don’t always survive. Glad you are safe, and sorry for all the work you’ll have to do.


    • Thanks for your good wishes. Here the storms are frequently in the summer time and coincide with hot, thundery weather. This makes the damage to the trees more severe as they are still in leaf. As you say it is a natural process and clears out the old to let in the new but a scary process to watch.


  10. I hate to think of that happening here. the forest isn’t far from the door and there are some very tall trees near the house. At least nobody was hurt and you didn’t have a tree fall on the house!


  11. Used to live on a wooded lot . . . trees require a lot of maintenance, and weather always messed with them.

    I probably would not want to go through that again. Most of the people will look at those pictures and imagine some amount of work associated with the damage. From experience, I know they underestimate. It’s a lot of work to clean those up.

    Sorry to hear (and see).


  12. Wow – looks like your area was hit with some force. We have had trees down over the years, and sometimes leave a large branch or part of a trunk to rot down for the bugs and beasties (less clearing work for us too). I love a good thunderstorm , but not 150 km/hr winds.


  13. Glad to hear everyone is safe.


  14. Sounds terrifying, and what a lot of work to do. I experienced a power cut while on holiday in south France a few years ago. I was on my own in the rented holiday house at the time, and feeling my way down into the cellar to flip the circuit switches felt very spooky.


  15. Well, out of the devastation has come a compelling story with pics to match… Can the cross just be cemented back, leaving the scars of its ordeal visible?


  16. 150 km winds, wow! That is as strong as a category 1 hurricane. Such a pity for the trees, but glad no one was hurt. The cleaning up part is no fun.


  17. Blimey Amelia, that is one impressive storm! Glad you survived it unscathed, even if your trees and the village cross didn’t.


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