Back home


After a week away and a couple of thunderstorms inundating the garden all the weeds are happy and flourishing.  So much for the mulch of pine needles which covered the area under the ex-Christmas tree cut down last December.  I think the mulch would have worked if we had not had such a high rainfall.


The rainfall has meant that the grass needs cutting more frequently than usual.  Everywhere is still green but my husband makes sure to leave patches uncut so we can enjoy watching the bees.

Hypochaeris radicata, catsear

The tall yellow flowers that they love are not dandelions, but catsears (Hypochaeris radicata),  I think.

Dasypoda hirtipes

They are the favourite of the solitary bee Dasypoda hirtipes, the Abeille à culottes.  

Cute bee

She is not the only bee that favours these weeds but I have not yet found out what this one is called.


The Rudbeckia provides another splash of yellow.


These flowers stand two metres tall.  They self-seed onto the patch they have grown on the previous year and I have to thin them out to allow them sufficient space to grow.  They are perfect for the summer as they take the sun well and are drought tolerant although they have had lots of rain this year.


My Fuschia is two metres tall, too.

Fuschia close up

This is another perfect summer plant that gives so much for so little care.  I now have a cutting of it in the back garden that is doing well.  It is called Riccartonii, and I would love to have another hardy Fuschia with a different colour or flowers but this is the only variety I have seen in this area.  Is it the only reliable perennial Fuschia?


My Hydrangea must be enjoying the wetter conditions as it is full of flowers.  Hot, dry conditions should be avoided for Hydrangeas but mine seems to thrive against a wall in the sun!  Two cuttings are also doing well in a sunny spot in the back garden so I think I must have a particularly rugged specimen.


I am always impressed by the rugged plants that thrive no matter what.  The poppies seem to have taken advantage of the rain and have extended their season this year.

Pink poppy and bees

I have decided you can’t have too many poppies and I plan to sow even more next year.


All through the year I put aside the seeds of the plants I want to increase the following year.  It makes sense to increase the flowers that work in the garden (and for me attract the bees) but I had never thought about the economies that could be achieved gathering seeds.  I was amazed that The Garden Impressionists had collected over a £100 worth of yellow rattle seed that they will be able to re-sow in their wild flower meadow next year.

But if you do put your seeds to dry, do remember to label them as a lot of little black seeds can look very similar!


Summer is here

Amegilla on lavender

Summer is definitely here.  Outside the garden the fields are full of sunflower and I could stand all day and watch the bees on my lavender.  My little grey Amegilla albigena that I noticed for the first time last year, has returned like an old friend.

Chitlapa 26.6

My Chitalapa has been flowering from the end of June and is still going strong.  It is a hybrid of the Catalapa or Indian Bean tree and Chilopsis or desert Willow.  Catalapa are beautiful trees but really need space so this has proved a good compromise and the flowers are delicately perfumed.

1-fading Magnolia

The perfume from the Magnolia grandiflora is much stronger and is held even by the blossoms as they fade.  It looks as if it holds onto its nectar too as the bee is still interested in it.

1-Bumble and clover

Despite the variety of blossoms available the bumbles love the clover.


Before we even came to live here permanently I planted Oleander outside the house.  Apart from it being beautiful and reminding me of Greece it is supposed to keep away mosquitoes.  I would never have planted it if I had realised how fragile it is.  This winter was mild and it thrived but usually it is damaged over the winter by frost and cold.  When it was smaller we covered it with fleece but it is too big now and so any damaged branches must be cut away in the spring.


I was surprised to find this winter flowering cyclamen in the back garden under the trees completely ignoring the summer weather.  There are always surprises in the garden.

1-Bumble starts drinking

We found this tired red tailed bumble bee and gave her a 50:50 solution of sugar and water.

1-Starts on the next drop

I was surprised as she lapped up the first drop and started on the second!

1-That was good

It gave me time to admire her pollen load.  She had carefully packed the pollen down from the flowers she was gathering from.  There were two shades of yellow pollen but I cannot say where the yellow pollen came from as there is so much around just now.

1-Red poppies

I’ve no problem in guessing where the black pollen comes from.  Most of the poppies have coal black pollen.

1-Last of the blackcurrants

I have gathered in the last of the blackcurrants and the sorbet is made and waiting for the arrival of the grandchildren.

1-Stork and tractor

Outside the garden nobody is thinking of holidays.

1-Stork 1

As the tractor breaks up the rough ground the stork is finding food in the uprooted grasses, perhaps frogs and lizards.

1-Wee mousie

Birds of prey are interested in the disturbance that will make mice and voles run for cover but this one has not run fast enough.

1-Black kite

I think they might be black kites but I am not a bird person so I cannot be sure.

Garden in the evening light

Now that summer is here I look forward to holidays and uh oh, those summer nights.


Hollyhocks revisited.

Three Tetralonia (2)

This morning (Saturday 5 July 2014) I had a look in the Hollyhocks and saw two Tetralonia bees still not properly awake at 8 a.m.  They are not early risers.

Three Tetralonia (1)

As I bent to take the photograph from a different angle I noticed that there were three!  It had been a rainy night with cooler overnight temperatures so I wonder whether its warmer to share your hollyhock shelter with others?

It’s Hollyhock time!

Hollyhocks back border

I never realised what a difference the hollyhocks make to the garden.  They are a bit the emblematic flower of this region of France and now pop up everywhere.

Hollyhock along fence

They are a natural for along our back fence.

Hollyhocks side gdn

But they are happy in rough, partially shady spots.

Hollyhocks rear atelier

They keep us company growing against inhospitable walls.

Hollyhocks front atelier

They’ll fight and win against Acanthus for their right to survive.

Hollyhocks through drainpipe

They pop up in strange places and find the sunshine regardless.

Hollyhock taller than tree

They can grow taller than trees!  Well, O.K. a small tree.

Hollyhock bumble

Of course, they are well-beloved by the bumble bees.

Hollyhock halictes

And are frequented by lots of different solitary bees like this Halictes bee lapping up the nectar at the base of the flower.

Tetralonia ready for the night

The hollyhocks also provide shelter.  I took this picture by flash at half past eight in the evening.  I often find these bees (Tetralonia malvae, I think) asleep for the night.

Hollyhocks self seed easily and it is usually my husband who cannot bear to mow down any that appear in the lawn and who takes the trouble to transplant them.  Now I have got more sunshine in my borders I am going to make sure I help him so we can have even more next year.