a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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?


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.

32 thoughts on “Winter begins

  1. Oooh, the partridge rounds out your seasons, bees and bugs in summer, wild birds to carry you through the leaner months.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was only nine degrees in the garden this afternoon“….
    positively balmy…
    we’ve had three and a half almost all day…
    then it went down!!
    I have never objected to cold…
    clear & crisp you can dress against…
    this continual mizzle gets through every layer!!
    Nice to see bumbles still at play…
    it must be the fur coats!!

    And we haven’t had any partridge around here for a couple of years…
    ever since they had a moratorium on hunting them and peasants…
    sorry… pheasants….
    to allow numbers to build back up!!
    We have heard a few calls this year, that’s all…
    and we heard quail this summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The partridge is a beautiful bird. And well fed, by the looks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always want to tell the pheasants in the garden not to go out into the surrounding fields at this time of year. Shooting season is in full swing here. D

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fine plump partridge. Lucky indeed to have found your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your bumble bee all covered in pollen and what an adorable partridge.
    Nine degrees sounds positively balmy to me as it has turned very cold here. Only 3 degrees today although it is nice and sunny today. I don’ t mind cold but constant gloom is depressing.


  7. The partridge photos are amazing.


  8. There’s a gamebird farm near us – it looks like a prison for birds. One year a troupe of them came into the garden and milled around at the beginning of the hunting season. People shoot them, but you can walk right up to them. I hope yours bird stays put! They are beautiful.


  9. I think you may have to stock up on food, that partridge looks like he eats a lot.


  10. We too have had a cold snap with a few days of morning frost so the weather has finally changed. No partridges though!


    • I’m quite happy to have the cold now that it is nearly Christmas. I have also learnt this year that many trees have a requirement of a certain period of low temperature (depending on the trees). We had an exceptionally mild winter last year but I don’t think it was particularly beneficial for the trees or the garden. Amelia


  11. We do need a little winter cold to control some of the garden pests and to stop everything from flowering too early! The bees here are still busy, the honey bees come to the Arbutus but mainly solitary bees.


  12. I love to see partridges in the garden. Lucky you and lucky him. I think you might find that you will be getting through rather a lot of food now. I think they mate for life, I think so anyway I hope his mate joins him in the garden soon. ps I have no idea if your visitor is male or female, just guessing.


    • I think it is a male but but I am not absolutely sure. Thinking of the quantity of birdseed that he is consuming I am not sure that I am looking forward to him inviting his mate for dinner. Amelia


  13. So much life and colour in winter – beautiful 🙂


  14. Pingback: Summer visitors | a french garden

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