a french garden

Slowly, slowly

40 Comments

Camelia

January is over and perhaps the worst of the winter is finished.  So many plants in the garden seem poised, waiting for the signal to flourish.

Daffodil

The daffodils have shown their colour but have remained tight closed.  Some snowdrops have appeared and the crocus are just starting to open.  So different from last January when the apricot tree was flowering on the 10 January 2014.

Skimmia

The Skimmia wisely keeps its buds tight closed.

Hellebore

The Hellebores are only starting to produce flowers but I am much happier to this slower awakening.  February can bring cold weather and frost.

End of garden

The two cotoneasters that were bright with red berries at the beginning of January, have been stripped bare by the birds.

Rudbeckia seedhead

Likewise, the seed heads of the Echinacea are all but bare of seeds.

Hard standing

Despite the heavy rain we have been having which leaves the ground sodden and encourages the weeds to grow, there has been work to do in the garden.  Work to clear the end part of the garden and remove some weedy trees continued.  We have inherited a fair selection of stones and flatter ones have been chosen to produce a handy hard standing area and some odd shaped ones will provide my husband’s next challenge of building a dry stone wall.  This will be for decorative purposes (cough, cough).  What else do you do with a lot of attractive limestone boulders?  (Hint, we already have two rockeries.)

Pussy willow

Nevertheless, the willow has decided it is time to start opening its buds.  If it does not open too quickly it should be O.K. for the bees.

 

 

bee on winter honeysuckle

Last week the bees on the winter honeysuckle were gathering pollen.

Bee and pollen

She was getting covered in pollen, obviously enjoying herself after being kept cooped up in a hive because of the rain.

v. tinus and bee

The Viburnum tinus was receiving attention, too.  Its pollen is much paler, almost white.  It’s not as popular with the bees when there are more flowers around but needs must in January.

Blue Tits

The fat balls are disappearing at an incredible rate and there is an increased chattering of birds in the garden.  The colours of male chaffinches are looking brighter.  The male turtle dove courts the female in the morning as she pecks the seed on the patio but she is not interested and he finally turns his interest to the seeds.

It’s all a bit too early in the garden at the moment.

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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.

40 thoughts on “Slowly, slowly

  1. All still very slow here. Just a few bulbs poking through the earth. As I type this its -4 outside and the garden is under a foot of snow! That’s the Auvergne and our altitude here for you, though down in our nearest town, no snow at all. I’ll keep reading the seed catalogues.

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    • Ah, the seed catalogues – that’s what keeps gardeners going in January! I’ve squirrelled away a lot of seeds this year and I was thinking of trawling through them soon. At least when it stays cold it stops you from planting too soon, which is a mistake I can make here after a few nice days. Amelia

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  2. Your garden sounds further ahead than mine this year. Winter honeysuckle needs cold to really flower well and mine is the best its ever been. Is the woodland you are clearing going to be for the spring bulbs? It won’t be ideal for tulips if it gets water-logged.

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    • I’d like to imitate the woods outside of the garden and go for pulmonaria, anemones, asphodel, violets, Solomon seal and any other flowers that might naturalise there. The area has been choked with ivy and over shaded by trees that just seeded there. It will have to be spring flowers that blossom early and will lie dormant during a dry shady summer. It doesn’t get water logged but is too rough to look good with elegant flowers. Amelia

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  3. Your garden seems to be all action. Lovely photos. My garden is under snow this morning.

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  4. How lovely to see the garden awakening again. You seem to be weeks ahead of us this year! We still have almost a foot of snow and as I write it is still -5 C. Hope this cold front doesn’t reach you!

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    • We are in for a colder week according to the forecast with sub-zero lows but today we did not even have a frost. As long as the temperatures stay low enough to stop the trees blossoming too early, I will be happy. Amelia

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  5. The garden is slowly waking up to signs of Spring although it is bitterly cold here. I do envy you having stones in the garden. How wonderful having enough for a dry stone wall.

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  6. Those flower buds look like they are just waiting for someone to say, “Action!”

    Like some of your other readers I’m looking out at a blanket of snow and more is on the way. Still, the beginning of February always feels like we’ve turned the corner. I’ll be starting seeds indoors before too long.

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  7. That’s two posts in a row about flowers and stuff growing as if Spring is here . . . our flowers have another 3-4 wait.

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  8. Amelia, this is lovely and a really hopeful post full of Spring promise, you seem to much further ahead than here, as we’ve had an icy blast, snow and cold, cold wind this week. I’m hopeful that in a few weeks things will take a turn for the better though!

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  9. We just got another foot of snow yesterday so it will be a while before our gardens look anything like yours.

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  10. Your mention of the Apricot flowers of last January inspired me to look at your post of a year ago (A January Day)? A lovely flower. The question of the Liriodendron tulipifera was interesting. They grow immensely tall on the Mall in Washington D. C. and the walks have lots of those seed pod remains on them. (I don’t live there, we visited as tourists.) Don’t feel bad that you didn’t notice the flowers! They are hard to see up among the leaves. They aren’t white, there’s green, yellow and orange, tulip shaped so only partly open; three or four inches long I’m guessing? Not too many in NH, pretty far north for them. I love the shape of the leaves.

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    • Hi, Charlotte – you’ve been languishing in Pending (I don’t know why). I’m much more familiar with my Liriodendron now and also this year http://solarbeez.com/ (a great blog from Oregon that I follow) decided to follow a tulip tree through all its seasons. So I had his in Oregon to watch and my own in the garden! That’s the great thing about gardening and blogging, you learn so much. Amelia

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  11. Here in Oregon I am seeing snowdrops, violets and hellebores blooming. We are having a warm winter and not enough rain. Love your photos!

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  12. I loved the catkins and the bees getting busy! So cheering to see your garden waking up when we just have rain and cold, repeat rain and cold!

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  13. The optimism of living half way down France…( winter’s nearly over!) February is usually our coldest month here, but lovely to see your bees already out and about in your garden,
    BW
    Julian

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  14. Yes, here it feels like everything is just waiting and the recent cold weather has emphasised this feeling. I have, however, seen sheltered gardens near the sea in Devon where there are quite a few flowers out. Good to see you managed to have bees in your post!

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  15. That all looks very optimistic! As others have commented, rather further on than here – snowdrops, early primroses and willow catkins is about it for us. And the birds waking up a bit… RH

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  16. I always enjoy your bird and bee photos very much. Farmers here are worried about our mild winter bringing on early growth of strawberry and blueberry plants. As you say, it could turn cold again.

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  17. Our camelia looks almost ready to flower but I know it’s always much later than our neighbours. Our left hand neighbours has been out since christmas, the right hand side is just starting so I now it won’t be long now. All I’ve got are snowdrops and cyclamen so far – hopefully yours will flower soon too.

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  18. We have had the strangest winter here. Blossom on the trees in early January, daffodils out last week and, on the common rhododendrons in full bloom. My hellebores are nowhere to be seen though.

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    • It is strange. My first thought is for the poor bees and other insects that must have missed a lot of that early blossom. We’ve had a relatively cold spell that is holding things back nicely at the moment. Amelia

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  19. The trees and plants always look so secretive at this time of year, they know when spring is coming… I’ll enjoy watching the bees bringing everything back to life soon.

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  20. You write beautifully and your photos are fantastic, thanks.

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