a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Cutting the “grass”


Garden with weeds

We do not have a lawn.  Even the grass is in short supply and each year “the green bit” is invaded by the most successful weed.  This year the prize goes to varieties in the family of the Compositae, probably Cat’s Ears and Hawkbits but my Botany skills cannot identify it or them any further.

Unmown patches

Never the less when it comes time to mow the stuff we feel obliged to leave some patches uncut.  What used to be an annoying, unsightly weed has become the preferred pollen source of the Dasypoda hirtipes that are living in the garden just now.

Dasypoda hirtipes and ladybird

We can see them foraging from a distance as each time they land on a flower head it dips and the whole mass of flowers undulates as the bees move from flower to flower.  The video gives a very short clip (12 seconds) of the action.

Abeille à culottes

The French name for this bee is “Abeille à culottes”, for an obvious reason.  I don’t think it has a common English name as it is not quite as common as it is here in France.

Dasypoda hirtipes and pollen

She collects pollen on long hairs on her back legs but sometimes she has a pollen frenzy and it goes everywhere!

Dasypoda hirtipes in nest entrance

This solitary nest is just at the edge of the back garden  very conveniently located for access to the flowers.  She comes out of the hole very cautiously so I have managed to get some shots.

Dasypoda hirtipes leaves nest

She zooms back in as the open nest is quite exposed so my best photograph to date is a yellow smudge at the nest entrance.

It is nice to think she is leaving me the eggs and I’m sure our weeds will be back to feed her offspring.

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.

25 thoughts on “Cutting the “grass”

  1. Amelia that shot of the pollen-covered culotte-wearing bee is astonishing!


  2. Don’t think I’ve ever seen such stuffed pollen baskets! What a beauty.


  3. Nice of you to leave her some food . . . and nice video as well.

    FYI, you can easily embed it in the post – Add Media/Insert From Url, add the direct link to the video.

    Don’t copy the one from the browser’s address bar; click on “share” and grab that link.


  4. Blimey that is one loaded bee! The French name is perfect!


  5. What a fabulous creature – I want one. That portrait shot is absolutely amazing – she is being a very obliging model.


  6. Lovely photos. I like watching the bees swinging from one plantain flower to the next in our “lawn”.


  7. The bees are a great reason to leave the meadow uncut until fall.


    • Its not exactly a meadow, it’s the only lawn we have. I would like to try to keep a piece as meadow without it impinging on us getting from A to B in wet weather and fitting in with the rest of the garden.


  8. I love your ‘lawn’.


    • Thanks, I’m not into sterile lawns and in consequence I’ve been watching 3 other different species of mining bees make there homes in it earlier in the year. They are the ones I’ve noticed.


  9. What a friendly looking bee, and one that looks very satisfied with herself!


    • I’m glad you think she looks friendly. I think all the bees look cute. I have taken photographs of some with green eyes that I think are so beautiful but my son-in-law says they look wicked. I think he has watched too many Star Wars movies.


  10. Love the Abeille à culottes – wonderful image, Amelia. RH


  11. Hahaha, now I can comfort myself with your words when I wooryy about my green weeds. Loooooove the bee portrait, it is very good!


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