a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Rain, rain


Rain up to edge

Part of the river Seudre runs at the bottom of our garden.  It is now up to the very edge.

Bottom of garden

A tree had to be removed a few weeks ago because the summer storm had broken its top across the river.  We managed to get the greater part of it out with the help of a tractor but the rest will have to be removed in the summer when it more or less dries up.  This part of the river used to flood regularly until a canal was built some time ago which takes any overflow.

cyclamenAt least the trees are getting a good soaking.  The rest of the plants seem quite happy too.  I had planted cyclamen at the bottom of the garden under the trees hoping it would naturalise.

Cyclamen seedlingsI had never really thought about how they would “naturalise”, I just hoped they would spread.  This year I have noticed little seeds germinating on the ground and I have spread them out but I seem to have missed some here.  I never realised they would set seed so readily.

CrocusThe spring bulbs are coming on apace.

SnowdropsBut everything is wet and muddy.

BergeniaThe usual winter flowers are opening up.

PrimulaThere is colour around.

RosemaryThe Rosemary has not stopped flowering.

Apricot flowerBut neither has the Apricot.

Apricot flowersAnd more keeps arriving.

Prune flower budsWorst of all the Plum tree has started to bloom.  I had such high hope for the Plum tree this year as it is a favourite with the bees.  Only some immediate low temperatures could retard things now and no low temperatures are forecast.  I think the plum tree will be quiet again this year with only some honey bees and bumble bees awake to appreciate its flowers.

Pink helleboreMy first Hellebore is in flower.

Inside HelleboreI always have to have a look inside as I pass.  They do look delicate drooping as they do but you miss seeing what they look like inside.

Red HelleboreThe red Hellebores are not far behind.  These are all seedlings from my sister’s garden and are prodigious self-seeders and I have already my own little plantation of last year’s seedlings in the back garden under the trees.

SedumI’ve got a lot of cutting back to do yet.

AchileaI am also considering keeping the long stems from the Achillea and Sedum to use in the bee hotels.  So I would need to cut them and dry them out.

Two problems here.  The first is obvious – they will be difficult to dry out and the second is that I am not tempted out in this weather.  No excuse really as it is not cold but as soon as you get ready, it starts to rain!

Mutabilis roseI really should not complain as all the plants I have planted recently have had perfect growing conditions and my unperfumed Mutabilis rose looks very happy.

HeathersEven the two Heathers I bought last year and did not believe would grow in my chalky soil have prospered.  They were marked as suitable – it is just I am very sceptical about the quality of information in the local nurseries.  I’ve seen no bees on them yet so maybe they are as surprised as I am to see them.

propagatorI’ve resorted to planting some seeds indoors.  I have five perennial poppy seedlings with secondary leaves in the can intensive care propagator.  I don’t think they really need this much care but it is an outlet for my gardening frustrations.

I have also started off my last three Scabiosa caucasica seeds which I failed with last year.  In addition, I have  sown some Monarda seeds as I was no too successful last year as I started them off too late.

Hyla meridionalis

Hyla meridionalis 19.1.14

Basically it is only the Reinette that really appreciates this weather.

 Tree frog on well 19.1.14And even she prefers sitting on the top of the well when it is sunny!

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.

34 thoughts on “Rain, rain

  1. Very, very similar to Sussex, Amelia – except you have plenty of (admittedly very early) blossom. I spent much of today hauling logs out of the river before they can form natural dams and raise the water level even more. But like you I am getting frustrated at not being able to GARDEN! Dave


    • Can’t complain today, though, as we have sunshine. I’ll have to get on and cut down the Sedums and Achillea as they are well through. I just don’t know whether to pretend we are in spring and get on with it.


  2. That is a lovely hellebore and I like the propagator, too. I totally understand your garden frustration!


  3. I’m with the bumble bee and honey bee…I appreciate the early blooms!


  4. Lots of signs of life in your garden… I bet the bees will be there soon, simply for that lovely Hellebore! Hope it continues to be mild for you and those blossom buds everywhere.


  5. Lovely photos. I love the pictures of the frogs!


  6. Between France and England you seem to be getting far more than your share of rain this year. I’ve never heard of anyone growing cyclamens outside in this area but I think I might try some hardy ones. They are beautiful flowers.


  7. Winter flowers!? . . . yeah, we ain’t gots them here.

    . . . they do look nice, though.


  8. I’ve sown Monarda but it is the only seed that is showing no signs of germinating, it was expensive Sarah Raven seed too. I’ve not had much luck with scabious seed either or if they do grow it is hard to get them through the summer to be planted out in autumn, perhaps if they were ready early enough they would be better planted out in spring. I hope your river doesn’t get any higher; rain here too this week.


    • We must have bought the same Monarda seeds! I planted them outside and did get some up but they were a bit feeble and had disappointing flowers. Today I just noticed the fields on the other side of the river are all flooded but the land dips there, a bit.


  9. The garden seems to be doing well in spite of the extra rain. The Reinette looks very contented.


  10. I know you are really showing us flowers etc, but that little frog… a must-have for any garden… RH


  11. It just hasn’t stopped raining here for what seems like an age!


  12. Was just looking at the Suedre on VigiCrues…

    it is showing “Orange” for the mid section…
    at tidal Saujon it has surpassed the 2007 flood level and at the moment is below the 1999 level…
    but the high & spring tide is yet to come…

    at St-André-de-Lidon it surpassed the 2007 flood level on the 27th…
    but is now falling back, although it is still 13cm over the 2007 line…

    hope you and the tree frogs are keeping dry!


    • We are not far away from St Andre de Lidon. We have never seen it this high. I just saw a pussy willow open on our big willow today. I’ve been told it is a Sallow but all I know is the bees like it. It seems to early, the solitary bees are going to be short of food if everything starts flowering so early.


  13. At least no snow. And your garden is alive!


  14. I think I must go out into my garden this weekend and see what’s happening. The awful weather here this week has not encouraged me to venture outdoors. But I can see the garden is full of branches down from the trees, again. At least we haven’t lost any whole trees, yet. Since moving here we have planted 14 trees, not counting the acers (3, but too small to count at the moment), and I would be sorry to lose any of them, or any of the mature trees that were already here. Most perilous is the Scots Pine (best guess at least 90 feet) – it is less than 90 feet from the house!
    You have so much going on in your garden already but I wonder whether the unusually mild conditions here this winter will make my garden get going early too?


  15. We have had some branches down the past few days as the wind was very high. I think some might have been broken and stuck there from previous storms. It is good to have a check as I had a big branch on top of a bush. It was a sturdy Euonymus so it didn’t do any damage but branches can crush or misshape more delicate plants. We seem to be getting similar weather to the UK but milder.


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