a french garden


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First frost

frosted Hollyhocks

Last Sunday the first frost arrived.  It had taken a long time arriving, so I was pleased to go out and catch the plants with their winter coating before the sun rose higher and started to warm up the air.

I felt that this would be the last of the Hollyhocks but they have survived and have not given up the battle against the cold.  Frost resistant Hollyhocks?

IMG_5581

The roses are other flowers that shake off the frost with little damage.

Frosted fuschia

The fuschia flowers and leaves though have completely succumbed and dessicated now.

Salvia

Likewise none of the Savia survived and today I cut down the bare stems which was all that was left .

Frosted cotoneaster

The frost on the Cotoneaster leaves make them look like a silver variegated variety.

Frosted Veronica

The Veronica had the same variegated appearance but the frost did not damage either of them.

Frosted primrose

The best part about the frost was its effect on me.  Going round the garden in the frosty morning set my biological clock into winter mode.  The garden was behaving as it should in December and all was as it should be.

Frosted Mahonia

The frosty morning has given way to milder weather but I can finally feel that we are approaching the shortest day and it is really winter time.

Mahonia Charity

The Mahonia is regularly visited by the bumble bees and yesterday it was warm enough to tempt a honey bee to visit.

Triton marbre

The picture above is, in part, a set-up.  I wanted to mention that the crocus have started to push through but I thought I might place the marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus) that was in the flower bed into centre stage.  He is very amenable to having his  photograph taken, or at least he has never complained.  The damp warmer weather must be more comfortable for him.  Sometimes we find several of them bundled up together to keep warmer in the winter time.

Frosty Hydrangea

The late arrival of winter this year allowed me time to  move and plant various trees and shrubs but now the garden is relatively tidy and I have no more plans for it until the new year,


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Winter begins

Winter has finally arrived.  The drop in temperature over just two days felt brutal.  We have gone from mild, sunny autumn days to dull days with temperatures sometimes in the single figures (Centigrade!) – still no frost yet.

Liquidambar

My liquidambar has lost most of its leaves now without producing spectacular bright red leaves but yellow/orange is good too.  I’m pleased with the Cornus alba doing its bit on the left to add a bit of red for the autumn.

Willows

I planted four scarlet willows (Salix alba “Chermesina”) to provide a blaze of red stems in autumn and through winter.  Well, they are not quite there yet but I am pleased that they have all taken and seem to be quite happy.

fuschia

The fuschias are still providing lots of colour and don’t even look tired.

Cotoneaster

But I still come back to the humble cotoneasters for the best show.

missing berries

And I noticed today that the berries are starting to go missing so they also provide a good winter food for the birds.

cotoneaster in front garden

A flash-back to last May and the cotoneaster in the front garden and you can see what a useful plant this is.

bumble on honeysuckle

It was only nine degrees in the garden this afternoon but the bumble bees were happy on the winter flowering honeysuckle …

Bumble on salvia

and on the salvia, but it was too cold for the honey bees to put in an appearance.

bumble bee

I enjoyed watching, what I think must bee a buff-tailed queen, sunning herself on the ground where she was sheltering at the base of a plant.

queen grooming

She had been feeding on the winter honeysuckle and in consequence got covered in pollen and felt the need for a good grooming.  She will not need the pollen until next spring when she starts her first nest.

partridge

This morning my husband grabbed his camera and shouted for me to look at what was on the patio.

red partridge

This is a red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) and a new visitor to our feeding station.  I had a good idea where he had come from.  I checked with my neighbour and not too long ago partridges had been released for hunting purposes.

red partridge

However, this is a lucky one – well for the moment- the season is closed now and it will be safe to eat at our bird feeder.  Mmm. just how much wild bird food can a large partridge eat?