a french garden

Many happy returns

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Purple crocus

All it takes is a little bit of sunshine and splashes of colour return to the garden.

Willow stamens

After all the rain the plants are ready for the big opening.  There is not much pollen on the willow yet, these stamens were the only ones I saw and they were high up, but it won’t be long.

plum flower

I saw my first blossom on the big plum tree in the garden.  In warm years so many bees come to the plum tree when it is in flower that I can hear the buzz from about 100 metres away.

Red Camellia

The red Camellia provides more than colour.

Halictes bee in Camellia

The thick layer of petals has been providing a comfortable B&B for this little halictes bee.

dandelion and bees

The dandelions are out and this one is being shared by a honey bee and a solitary Andrena bee.  I look forward to the return of the bees and butterflies in the garden.

Barbastelle bat

One returning visitor came as a surprise.  My husband spotted him at the end of February and he is still with us.

Barbastelle bat 27.2.15

He is a Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus).  Barbastelle bats often pass the winter in underground caves or cavities.  As he has decided to take up residence behind our living room shutter again I would presume he is starting to get active.  Once again I presume that if I have been seeing butterflies during the day he will be finding moths (to which he is partial) during the night.  I can keep an eye on him during the day by looking in sideways without disturbing him and I have noticed that he changes position between roosting on the wooden shutter and the stone wall of the house.

This means that it is the third year that we have noticed a Barbastelle bat in exactly the same place (see last year “A furry visitor”).  They have been known to live for 23 years so it seems likely that it is the same individual.

Reinettes

The warm damp weather is ideal for the green tree frogs ( Hyla meridionalis).  They have returned to bask in the sunshine in front of the dining room window.  Often we hear them before we see them and they are difficult to see until one of them moves, as you can see on the picture above.

This is my favourite time of year in the garden as everything makes its first appearance.

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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.

51 thoughts on “Many happy returns

  1. What lovely creatures you have in your garden! A cute little bat and green frogs. Spring really is here at last and it is wonderful to see so much colour. I love your Camellia.

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    • My Camellia has had a hard life. It was one of the few plants I inherited in the garden. It was behind a limestone wall and always looked sick and never flowered. I finally decided to move it. It was quite large so I had to hack off the roots and branches. It has taken three years but although much smaller it is flowering and the stumps are all hidden by new growth. Amelia

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  2. This time of the year is the best tonic for winter blues and your pictures prove it…I have never seen a bat let alone GREEN frogs…they are amazing.

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  3. How lovely to see the bat again. It must feel quite at home.

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  4. So much beauty and life! It’s great that your little bat friend returns.

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  5. Such lovely photos, thanks for sharing them. Can’t say I’m not jealous of your wonderful early spring. Still buried in 3 feet of snow in the northeast USA. My snowdrops, though, have poked through the frozen ground, stiff as tin soldiers. The imperative to grow and reproduce against adversity is amazing to witness.

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    • I love seeing snowdrops pushing through the snow, it makes them so special. I don’t know what happened to my snowdrops this year. I thought I had lost them all and now they are coming through much later with the crocus and lots of other flowers. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great to see things on the move again. Especially good to see the Barbastelle.

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  7. Love the splashes of spring color. We are recovering from the newest snow storm, so it’ll be a little while before our flowers start popping up.

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    • I have been following the severe winter the USA is having this year. The temperatures and snowfalls are amazing. Amelia

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      • Oh! Here in the North West area of the U.S. (Oregon) we have had a gentle and warmish Winter with not much rain…quite different than the East side. Of course we may be in for fires in our forests this summer…

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  8. Interesting pictures – we are a bit behind you here but there are distinct signs of spring and I have seen several honeybees and bumblebees on dandelions and celandine as well as on garden shrubs like mahonia and flowering cherry. Things are moving ahead.

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  9. It’s nice to have bats near the house – we have one that hangs around outside the balcony window every night, but in the daytime he seems to have a different spot. I must try and watch them more this year. The green frogs really are camouflaged well. Lovely photos and a beautiful Camellia. I hope your warm spring weather is coming our way as I am craving colour!

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    • I moved the Camelia three years ago from beside a limestone wall where it never flowered. It was quite big so I had to cut it back severely to move it and then suffer it looking stick like until this year when it has new branches and plenty of flowers. It was not really a risk as it was no good where it was but I am glad I took the trouble now. Amelia

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  10. Thanks for the sharing and the encouragement. Isn’t it wonderful what a nice day will do for the garden…and the psyche?

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    • We have a sheltered patio outside the dining room that catches the sun so we can sit out there for our tea and pretend its summer. With the sunshine on the garden it certainly lifts the spirits. Amelia

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  11. Lovely to see spring arriving in your garden Amelia. It always comes sooner to you than here in Surrey, but we’re getting the first glimmers now and we have more than a dozen clumps of frogspawn in the pond so the frogs obviously think we’re over the worst now!

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  12. Aaah very exciting! thanks for the photos.

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  13. Lovely photos, and I particularly like the information about bats living that long. I had no idea. And I had to look twice to see the wonderful green frogs. It really looks like spring has arrived. Lucky you!
    BW
    Julian

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    • We should not get much really cold weather from now on. We are being treated to a warm sunny spell at the moment. These spells usually increase in frequency and length until summer actually arrives. Amelia

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  14. Love seeing the little bees. The spring melt has only just begun where I am.

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  15. Is there a light that you leave on at night that attracts moths? That might explain the bat.
    It’s nice to see so many flowers. I can’t wait until it happens here!

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    • We do not leave any lights on at night and the street lighting for the hamlet goes off at 10.30 p.m. They can hunt at dusk and will fly and return to their roost during the night. Amelia

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  16. Very envious of your exotic wildlife. I love bats and frogs, both of which are quite happy to munch less attractive bugs and pests. Lucky you 🙂

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  17. Very nice post . . . as I look out at our snow-covered yard,

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  18. Those frogs blended in so well I missed them at first. We can hear frogs in the wet field, but we seldom see them. That’s fascinating about the bats being able to live 23 years. I was under the impression they liked to be in a group at night. This one seems to be happy by itself.

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    • There is not a lot known about bat behaviour in Europe as there are less and less of them and they are difficult to track. Barbastelle bats like to roost in trees and I like to imagine that he is on route to join his friends somewhere in a forest. Amelia

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  19. Very envious of your bat. My last house had a large colony of serotines and I miss watching them emerge at dusk to hunt. Dave

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    • I think anything that actually chooses to live with you becomes very special. We have other bats that fly around the garden in the summer evenings but I have never seen them during the day and I don’t know what they are so they score less points with me than resident bats. Amelia

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  20. It’s my favourite time of year too, everything fresh and new. I love your bat visitor.

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  21. Have you named your Barbastelle bat? He is beautiful! I love your observations of nature returning to the garden in spring 🙂

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  22. Pingback: A barbastelle in the atelier | a french garden

  23. Pingback: Return to the garden in March | a french garden

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