a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Living in France


The magazine “Living in France” has chosen our garden for their new gardening page in the September issue of the magazine which has brought on a wave of nostalgia.  It seems as if we have turned a full circle from reading the magazine to becoming a part of it.

I was happy to be part of this issue but it also felt a little strange as this magazine had been bought and pored over by my husband while we were living in Aberdeen.  It had all started innocently enough with touring holidays in France but then the monthly purchase of the magazine warned me that ideas were brewing in his head.

In 2001 the deed was done and the house was bought.

old garden tif 0003

The garden was uninspiring, as this view from the bottom of the gardening looking towards the workshop shows.  On the right you can just pick out the ex-Christmas trees.

1-A & K back garden looking towards house June 2014

Things have changed since then.   This is roughly the same spot now but there are more trees and flowers in the garden.


The front garden too has changed.  But it is not just what we have put into the garden but it is also what has come out of it!

We have had a Hoopoe fall down the chimney and get trapped behind the glass door.

Inside on side-table

Inside on side-table

The little green frogs are a special part of the garden and this one made himself at home on the coffee table.


Even in winter we have visitors like this solitary lapwing that visited us day after day one winter.

Close up bat

Some visitors are furry like this cute Barbastelle bat that roosted behind our shutters.

Triton in hand

We also have a menagerie of marbled newts, salamanders, frogs and toads that we discovered in our old well.

Tetralonia in Malva

Can you see her pink pollen sacs?

What we did not realise was that the more fruit trees and flowers that we added to the garden, the more wildlife would come and share it with us.

1-Butterfly on mint


Hawk Moth Hemaris fuciformis


Bee kiss

and, of course, the bees.  The bees have become special to me as you can see from the bee kiss.

So much has happened since my husband first plotted his garden in France.  The garden did not turned out exactly as planned but perhaps all gardens take on a life of their own and give you back much more than you expected.








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.

45 thoughts on “Living in France

  1. I was also contacted by Living in France, but didn’t get back to them. Our gardens a bit scruffy really!


  2. Your last sentence is so very true! How nice to be featured in the magazine after having it inspire you many years before! 🙂


  3. Living the dream! Something I would recommend too! I hope the article is as you hope.


  4. Full circle indeed. Will you give us a link when the article is published, if any of it can be seen online, that is?


  5. In Australia we have the most amazing birdlife – parrots of every colour with very cool crests are the most notable but lots of little finches and the huge emus and… well we’ve got it all.

    Except the Hoopoe.

    I have Hoopoe envy. It takes a lot to make me jealous of a bird since we’re so well served here – you’ve done it!

    And congrats about the magazine spread. You (and your shy hubby) are amazing gardeners and have built quite the nature haven. Well done!!!


  6. What a lovely story Amelia! Congratulations on your full circle adventure. I especially love seeing the wildlife in your garden (and house!). Dana


  7. Congratulations on living your dream. It takes courage, because you have to make the leap. In this blog (and I imagine, in the article) you share that bravery.


  8. That’s a very interesting gradual development – from magazine-induced dreamers via hard work to featuring as an inspiration to others… Whatever that is precisely, I am sure there is a perfect portmanteau word in German to describe it! RH


  9. What an honor, and wonderful reward for your efforts. I have also noticed how much more wildlife there is in the backyard with more natural plantings available to them.


  10. That sounds like quite an honor but I’m not surprised because you have beautiful gardens there. Congratulations!


    • Thank you. I think gardening is a very popular hobby for the British no matter what size of garden they have (and some beautiful ones might be quite small) is very much part of their home. Amelia


  11. How exciting! I will look out for the magazine. Your garden always seems so idyllic to me, I am not surprised a magazine would want to feature it.


  12. I didn’t know there were hoopoes in France! I love your posts about the wildlife in your garden.

    Congratulations on the magazine article!


    • Thank you. We love hoopoes, strangely there are four in the garden at the moment! That has never happened before but there was heavy rain last night and they seem to be digging juicy things out of the front lawn. I hope they stay around. Amelia


  13. Well done, and I look forward to reading the article in due course, if it gets posted on line. A lovely mix of photos as always of wildlife in the house and garden, BW


  14. Congratulations . . . Well deserved as far as I can see.


  15. What a lovely garden you have.


  16. Congratulations with the magazine, and everything achieved. And know I know were our lapwings stay in winter, beeing visiting you. 🙂


  17. How wonderful! I very much enjoy reading your musings and am always delighted by your pictures. Many congratulations on your magazine feature.

    On a recent visit to France I heard the most beautiful bird song early one morning – the same phrase repeated several times, almost sounding ethereal. I thought it might be a nightingale (never having heard one) but some research courtesy of Youtube reveals that it could have been a Golden Oriole. We were in the Haute Vienne: I don’t know if you have this species where you are?


    • I listened on YouTube but sadly I have never heard that song, it certainly is distinctive. However, I am not a very “birdy” person and unless one came onto the patio looking for food I probably wouldn’t notice it! I do love to hear them sing but a lot of the little ones tend to hide themselves away so like the sparrows and blue tits and redstarts that are a lot friendlier. Amelia


    • The Golden Oriole has a very distinctive fluting call. We have heard one in the forest around us this year. They are easy to hear very tricky to spot! (Auvergne, France)


      • Unfortunately, I did not see the bird with the wonderful voice. It could have been easier to identify if I had. It is a bird song I will never forget – and hope to hear again!


  18. Congratulations on being featured by the magazine. I have never seen a Hoopoe, somehow they seem almost too exotic.


  19. Wow, congratulations Amelia!! What beautiful changes you’ve brought to that plain green rectangle in the first picture, and I love that you’ve been rewarded by all your exotic (to me, anyway!) visitors.


  20. Very nice!! You’ve also got a nice menagerie of animals in your yard. 🙂


  21. It was inspiring to read your tail of French gardening and I must get the magazine. We have a little house in the Lot et Garonne and the garden was a vineyard so it has been a case of starting from scratch and we are not there full time so it is always exciting to see how things have changed when we come back. As you say the garden takes on a life of its own. And quite right too.


    • We have just had a few days away staying not far from Agen. It is a beautiful region, perhaps usually a bit warmer than ours in the summer time. We enjoyed visiting some of the little bastides and the Lastournelle cave. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

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