a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Water, water everywhere…


1-Flooded fields

Not far from the bottom of the garden the river Seudre has inundated the neighbouring fields making them look like lakes when viewed from a distance.

And the rain keeps on falling!


I thought I’d have a look in the old well to see what was happening there.

Salamandra salamandra

I had never seen the well with so much water before and I was pleased to see the salamander (Salamandra salamandra) in its element.  The well is usually more or less dry (The old well).

Marbled newt

Here I have a problem with my toads and frogs.  I think it is a common frog but I’m not sure.  I do recognise my marbled newt (Tritus marmoratus).  These are our favourites and get featured regularly (The well in winter).


At any one time you only get a snapshot of what is happening in the well at the moment.


There are plenty of crevices providing space to hide and keep warm.  Can you see the small frog on the far left of the photograph?

1-IMG_8986They do not seem to mind getting into a mixed species pile up.  The large common toad (Bufo bufo) stays impassive while an agile frog (Rana dalmatina) uses him as a resting place and the newts pass over him.


I counted seven different creatures in this photograph.

Hyla meridionalis, la rainette méridionale

Hyla meridionalis, la rainette méridionale

But I think everybody’s favourite is our little green tree frog.

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.

36 thoughts on “Water, water everywhere…

  1. what an amazing collection; I read recently that amphibians were the species that were declining the most and not really noticed by most people; they aren’t loved in the same way as butterflies or even bees.


    • Interesting. We definitely care more about things we find appealing. The difference is that different creatures appeal to different people but the seemingly soft cuddly ones – koala bears, pandas, and most baby mammals top the favourites list. Snakes, other reptiles and amphibians and insects must be scraping the bottom.


  2. What variety! At least they are enjoying the wet weather, even if no one else is! Great pictures.


  3. Amelia… the first two “frogs” [pictures 4&5] are toads…
    warty skins!
    And, in fact, are two extremely healthy looking Natterjack Toads!!
    Identified by the yellow line down the middle of their backs.
    What a lovely thing to have…
    I am now as green as those Marbled Newts with envy!!
    And I’ve never seen one of those [or the salamander] either…

    Picture 6 is a small Common Toad on the far left…
    with a mess of large Common Toad, Marbled Newt and a small frog on the right.

    Picture 7 is a bit easier… a frog [possibly Common, possibly an Agile, but difficult to tell] on the back of the Common Toad…

    and Picture 8 has eight critters… the small frog has just slipped into the crevice above the Common Toad… and you’ve a great comparison, too, of the difference in size between the two toad species with that Natterjack on the right hand side of the Bufo bufo!!!…
    What a great set of pix…
    truly wonderful.
    Jealous, moi…


    • I do appreciate the identification! I do not think we have spotted Natterjack toads in the well before, although I did notice they had a line down their back. I think I might have seen them in the garden before but thought they were just little common toads. I think it is an agile frog as I recognise his legs from previous visits to the well. They all seem to be quite happy mucking in together down there.


  4. Our conditions are a tad (not toad) different . . . -21 deg. C (-7 F)


  5. I have to admit, I too am taken with the little green tree frog.


  6. I feel like this rain is never going to end and our garden is a swamp! You do have some interesting wild life there, wish we had a well! Have a good week. Diane


  7. Amazing variety of amphibians in one well, and a very helpful comment to ID them all! Lovely to see a salamander – I once saw one in Italy and got a surprise; I knew what it was but had no idea they were found in Europe. RH


  8. You have some beautiful spleenworts and what looks like walking fern around the rim of the well. Walking frens are quite rare here and as far as I know aren’t native to France.


    • We didn’t plant any and none of the previous occupants of the house were gardeners. They just grew by themselves. We have removed some of the smaller ones and transplanted them into the wooded area down at the bottom of the back garden. There’s too much ivy there and I’m trying to create a more varied environment.


  9. What fun! You have quite a variety of amphibians there, loving all your moisture. California would love to have some of your rain.


  10. What an amazing amount of life in the well, and, as you say, the creatures don’t seem to mind each other at all. Have you ever seen the fields flooded like that before?


  11. What a fantastic little zoo you have there. Super to read all the identification exchanges above as well.


  12. I’m so grateful to some of my regulars who are much better informed than me. No luck with the Bees in a French Garden, though. I am a voice crying in the wilderness. It does bring it home that not many people are interested in solitary bees. Birds – yes, honeybees – yes, all the furry mammals – yes. It is good for me to know that it is so. It is just if your really like something you are sure everyone else must too. But that is not correct.


  13. Very pretty salamander! We have had a very wet “winter” here. Don’t know if I could even say winter since it has been rather warm too. Some neighborhoods close to me received 22 inches (about 58 cm) of rain in one day! This is supposed to be our dry season, so I wonder what the rainy season will bring this year.


    • All over the world the weather seems to have touched the extremes whether it be in freezing temperatures or heavy winds and storms. I feel I have got off very lightly with just the very heavy rainfall.


  14. We’re getting a lot of rain here in the southeastern US too. The chorus frogs who usually start singing here in January are loving this weather. That’s amazing that you a picture with 7 amphibians all together like that!


  15. The little green frog I pictured in the blog is quite vocal. It is in the early summer they get together for a communal croak and really get going. The inhabitants of the well are very laid-back and seem to live together with no problems.


  16. What a wonderful array of creatures Amelia! The residents of my pond seem a little dull by comparison! 😀


  17. hello, i was looking on the internet for info on marbled newts and found your blog, i hope you dont mind me picking your brains 🙂 i apear to have a marbled newt arrive in my wildlife pond (just one), i have only noticed it over the last few days (i dont know how long it has been there for) but i have noticed i have no more tadpoles…they wer very little (just broke out of the spawn) now all gone 😦 but i guess thats nature! but what i wanted to ask you, was, are they a protected species? i mean, do i have to tell anyone? i may be selling my house soon and i wonderd if i should make sure new owners cant build or fill in the pond? also i believe it is a female? or a juvenile? as it has the bright orange line down its back. well basically! can you help me? fill me in on these beautifull creatures! i know nothing about them, i had no idea what she was untill two days ago, she looks like a crocadile in comparison to my little common newts and i am in awe with her! so pretty! i love your pond photos and i you seem to be well informed! i hope you can help. i live in the center of france btw.
    thank you in advance! xx


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