a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


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Back to the garden

gdn nov 2013

I’ve never seen the grass so long.  We’ve been with the family in the U.K. for a month and it has rained a lot both in the U.K. and here.

Potager nov13

I managed to tidy the small vegetable plot before I left and it looks sadly empty.  In the bottom right hand corner there are rows of saffron bulbs that I dug up about this time last year after I had collected the stigmas.  I stored the bulbs over the summer and replanted them at the end of August.  I thought I had lost them all as nothing appeared until I saw some tips in the middle of October.  This was very late as they usually are in flower by October, however, my six bulbs that I planted in 2008 have now become 77 little plants.  It looks as if I will have to wait until next year for the flowers.

Garden 13

The medlar tree is full of fruit and provides some interest in the back garden.

For the rest I feel that the autumn is not a good season in the garden.

Euonymus europaeus

At least the spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) provides colour in the back.

Persimmon fruit

The Persimmon tree in the front garden is the only tree to give me red and yellow leaves of autumn, as well as the fruit.

Strawberry tree

I think I am missing the bees.  We have had little sunny weather since our return and I rushed out to take these photographs while the sky was blue.  I can always count on the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) to attract the bumbles bees when we have some sunshine.

Arbutus unedo

At least our birds haven’t been hungry while we’ve been away.  The fruits are edible but I have never tried them as I’ve read that they do not have much of a flavour.

Carder bee

There are a few stray cosmos left in the front garden but everything looks washed out.

I think I will have to put more effort into adding some interest for the autumn next year.  I have already started thinking of next summer and I have under-planted the trees in the back hedge with geraniums to add colour and keep down the weeds.  I have tried an on-line nursery here for the first time and I am awaiting the Elaeagnus angustifolia that I have ordered from them.  It is only a small bare root tree so it might be some time before I will know if the fruit will ripen here.  It does have a common name in France and is called the Olive of Bohemia.

Clathrus ruber

Clathrus ruber

This fungus comes up regularly where I have mulched the plants with wood chippings.  I find it very attractive as the lacy top is bright red and it appears from a cream coloured, egg shaped body that pushes out from the soil.

Bottom of garden

Another project for this winter is to add interest to the narrow strip of trees at the bottom of the garden.  Trying to take inspiration from Beth Chatto’s book “Woodland Garden” I want to introduce some shade loving plants.  I already have some Ruscus and spring bulbs on the edges.  In the summer everything will have to fend for itself.

Sparkle in tree

Of course, I am also trying to improve my photography.  Do you see the sparkle in the top right hand of this photograph?

Subtle sparkle in tree

I think I prefer the more subtle effect.  I’ll have to wait for more sunshine to try for more sparkles in my photographs.

I got this tip from a great blog I follow Focused Moments.  I think Rachel could have started a craze in WordPress with her great photographs including a point of light.

Tall Nepeta

I also have a puzzle in the garden.  This long straggly flower is supposedly a tall Nepeta but I wonder if it was wrongly marked or I picked up the wrong pot in error.  Granted that I should have found a sunnier spot for it but it must have grown to about two and a half metres tall.

Nepeta flower head

Does anyone recognise this as an autumn flowering Nepeta?