a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


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April is over

April is over.  It was a beautiful month in the garden; mild and sunny.  That was right up until the last week when it became overcast and rained, but as the rain was forecast we took the opportunity to leave the garden being well-watered and follow the sun into Spain for a few days.

A. fulva on blackcurrants

April is when the blackcurrants start to flower and as soon as they are open I know I will find an Andrena fulva bee drinking the nectar.

A. fulva

The Tawny Mining Bee is supposedly quite common in the U.K. and can be seen in gardens on all sorts of fruit trees and even daisies but I only see mine when my blackcurrants are in flower.

1-Asian hornet.Vespa velutina

One thing that you will not see on the blackcurrants in the U.K. is an Asian hornet, Vespa velutina.  This was the first one I had seen this year and for the sake of the bee keepers near me I hope there are none nesting nearby.

1-First rosa mutabilis

I nearly missed my first rose on my new Rosa mutablis.  I am delighted with the delicate foliage and thornless stems but mine is not perfumed, although some can be.

1-First flowers on flowering currant

I saw the first flowers on my new flowering currant and satisfied myself that, small as it was, it was still able to attract the bees.

1-First fritillaria

My first fritillaria flowered and has now produced seed heads.

1-Bluebells

I’m hoping to plant more spring bulbs at the bottom of the garden that can flower before the shade of the trees overtakes them.  I have anemones, pulmonaria, hellebores,  iris and asphodel but it takes time for them to get established.

1-Yellow tree peony

The yellow tree peony started to flower in the middle of April.

1-Full yellow tree peony

As the flower opens it looks as if it is actually growing larger rather than just opening out its petals.

1-Camassia on patio

I have Camasia cusickii in a pot in the patio.

1-Camassia bumble

The early bumble bee, Bombus pratorum, loved the Camassia and provided the entertainment whilst we drank our coffee.  They can be noisy little bees and you hear the “buzz pollination” as she visits the flowerlets.

It was from this vantage point on the patio at the beginning of the year that I noticed a thick growth of straight leaves, not unlike grass in the right hand border.  I had no idea what it could be so I decided to excavate a lump to have a closer look.  There were not roots but masses of tightly packed small white bulbs covering quite an area.

I recognised the bulbs instantly and I knew how they had appeared.

1-Dame d onze heures

Dame d’onze heures or Ornithogalum umbellatum, is a wild flower that sometimes appears in our lawn.  My husband mows our lawn and is rather fond of them.  He will not cut them down but tries to re-home them.   I have warned him of the dangers of introducing wild flowers where they will have no competition and take over completely.

I showed him the incriminating masses of bulbs that I was now obliged to remove.  I thought they should compost down nicely but he begged a reprieve and took them down to a rough part of the back garden.

1-Alium at bottom of garden

In April masses of white alliums appeared at the bottom of the garden.

1-Allium with weeds

They had fought it out with the weeds and survived, so I will again have to dig them up and replant them beside the dark tulips that they usually grow beside, in the front garden.

I would like to say two things in my defence.  The alliums must have had an amazing generation of bulbs as we never planted that many and also they did move!  They did not start out so close to the edge of the border as I found them.

1-Choisia butterfly

My Choisia, both the Aztec pearl and Sundance have really done well this year.  They attract lots of insects with their perfumed blossom.  I think this Red Admiral butterfly on the Sundance looks as if it is using a straw to get at the nectar!

1-First Peony bud

Another first this year is a peony which is flowering for the first time since it was planted in 2008.  I received four peonies from a specialist nursery as a birthday present from the children but perhaps the pine tree that we cut down in the winter took too much sun away from them as they never flowered.  I still have the paperwork so I will know what it is called when it eventually opens.  I hope it will be worth the wait.

1-Green apricot

Lots of apricots set on the trees in April but every day there are more on the ground so it will not be a plentiful year for apricots.  The problem is the wind.  We are usually very sheltered here but this April there has been a lot of high winds.

Back from Spain, I am looking forward to getting into the garden again, especially if the forecast sunshine arrives.