a french garden

A January day

30 Comments

Comma butterfly, (Polygonia c-album),10.1.13

Comma butterfly, (Polygonia c-album),10.1.13

Red Admiral,(Vanessa atlanta).10.1.14

Red Admiral,(Vanessa atlanta).10.1.14

Honey bee gathering pollen, 10.1.14

Honey bee gathering pollen, 10.1.14

These photographs bear witness to the strange weather we are having this January. The Red Admiral and the Comma are butterflies that over-winter here, and the honey bees don’t have to stay tucked up in their hives for too long but the weather is staying exceptionally mild.

Bumble bee on winter honeysuckle

It is so mild the queen bumble bees have stretched their wings and stirred from their winter torpor to gather some nectar.

Honey bee on tinus

The bees have been visiting the Viburnum tinus.  This is not the preferred winter flower for the bees so I presume the warmer temperatures have activated the plants nectar production.

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

The first winter aconite has opened in the garden.

Apricot flower 10.1.14

Apricot flower 10.1.14

The apricot flower, as beautiful as it is, must surely be too early.  You would think it could tell by the length of the short days that it is winter and it would not to be fooled by the mild temperatures.

Apricot tree shoots 10.1.14

Apricot tree shoots 10.1.14

The shoots are opening and the leaves unfurling.  I do not want to be pessimistic but I think my chances of apricots this year are low.

Garden in snow  25.2.13

Garden in snow 25.2.13

The cold winter weather is bound to arrive and trees, like my plum tree in flower in the picture above , will lose a lot of their fruit.   I try to recall that we had snow last February and that the winter is far from over.   I would have less to complain about if there were more frequent sunny days but in fact we are having a lot of rainy days.

Poppy seed germinating

Poppy seed germinating

On the wet days I am looking through my photographs of the bees I have seen and trying to identify them.  I have challenged myself to identify 20 before springtime.  I have featured five bees now on my blog Bees in a French Garden so that leaves quite a lot left!

I have been looking at my seeds but it much to early to plant anything as they will need to be kept outside.  So to amuse myself I have tried to grow some perennial poppies from a poppy left behind at my daughter’s old house.  O.K. they will not likely turn out like the parent plant but it lets me grow something indoors.

1-IMG_8883.mould

12.1.14

I just left them under cling film on some moist vermiculite and some have gone mouldy but I have selected a few healthy ones to put into small pots.

Poppy seed shooting

14.2.14

It is working for the moment, but who knows?  I enjoy watching them grow.

But now for an appeal!

Liriodendron tulipifera

Does anyone know if these could possibly be the dried remains of Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) flowers?  We only noticed them when we were pruning the Tulip tree.  I cannot think what else they could be but I had read that Tulip trees take about 20 years before they flower and as we have planted it less then six years ago I do not think it could be that age.

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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.

30 thoughts on “A January day

  1. Even way up here in Norway it’s far too mild for this time of year. That means of course that we get even more rain than usual – which is saying something for Bergen. Lovely pics of the butterflies 😀

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  2. Afraid I can’t help with the tulip flower. The aconite photo is wonderful! (As are all your photos!) I had forgotten all about the winter aconites and will go and inspect the soil where my clump grows tomorrow morning. It’s extremely mild here too – I’m hoping winter’s been cancelled and not just postponed this year! 😉

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  3. Everyone is having weird weather; global warming is now called climate change or global weirdness!
    Your images of the seeds germinating are fantastic. One of nature’s most astounding treasures – how a seemingly dead object (the seed) can transform itself into a living growing plant. My Pal Choi germinated in two days!

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  4. Beautiful flowers–and I’d worry about the weather, too. Here, we’re still under a heavy blanket of snow.

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  5. Amelia, it certainly looks like a dead Tulip Tree flower…
    there is one at this reference:

    looks quite similar… non!
    and here:
    http://www.eattheweeds.com/tulip-tree/
    third picture down…. looks even more similar to yours!!
    And how old was the tree you planted?… then add how long you’ve had it…
    And..
    about the absent winter…
    it’s gonna bite us in the backside, isn’t it!!?

    Bonne année, bonne santé…
    bonne santé surtout!

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    • Oops you had to be approved (?) Thanks for the confirmation about the Tulip tree. I don’t think we could have it more than five years but time passes so quickly these days. The non-winter continues and I have to remind myself that often the snow arrives in February or March. If we do have a cold spell it will knock a lot back.

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  6. Yes, that is what is left on a tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) after the seeds have fallen. They usually fall off throughout the winter. Too bad that the fruit trees are blossoming already. I hope the warm weather lasts and you don’t lose all your fruit to frosts.

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    • Thanks for the confirmation that it was the dried up flowers. The flowers are quite big and white so I can’t see how I could have missed them. I’ll keep my eye on the tree this year. I can’t see the weather lasting until spring but I am taking advantage of the mild weather and sunny spells so that the winter will at least seem shorter.

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  7. A fascinating post. I only see commas in the garden here in early to mid summer. I think of them as being very much a summer butterfly!
    Can’t help with the tulip tree, I am afraid.
    I am sure you know we have been having some pretty extreme weather here too. I am glad to say our garden has fared reasonably well but many local gardeners are suffering the disaster of a completely flooded plot, not to mention their homes! All very worrying. I happen to have been reading Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Flight Behaviour’ which is all about climate change so feeling generally rather negative about it all.

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  8. My bees were bringing in bunches of yellow and orange pollen today. The temperature was a very warm 71 F (21C) (Warmer than most of the summer) I hope this doesn’t mean that we will get our rainfall during the late spring or summer. The Oregon Coast should be having driving rain at this time of year.

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  9. My apricot tree produced zero fruit this year. I don’t know why except that maybe it flowered at the wrong time. But I don’t think plants are fooled very often; they are remarkably canny. If a plant can be canny 😉

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  10. I understand your fears about fruit for this year, but it’s lovely at this time of year to see something spring-like in someone else’s garden! And in the same country as me as well. My own patch is just a muddy mess at the moment, although at the weekend I finally noticed the snowdrops coming through. Yes – tulip tree after it’s shed the seeds. Lovely pictures of the seedlings, as Christina says. Makes me go warm and fuzzy!

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    • Thank you for the identification. I couldn’t see what else they could be but I couldn’t really believe that I had missed its first flowers. Next year I am going to keep a close eye on it. I never remember seeing the ground so wet as it is now. Our soil is quite sandy so it drains very well. Today is sunshine, thunder storms and heavy rain one after the other.

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  11. Unbelievably good weather you’re having. I know that when it is horrible here, it has to be nice somewhere in the world, and that must be in your area.

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  12. Commas seems so scarce in England… or I just don’t use my eyes enough. RH

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  13. Lovely to see pictures of honeybees gathering pollen. Such wonderful creatures, I can’t wait to see ours out and about again. Great post!

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  14. What lovely pictures, I really enjoyed this post.

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