Many happy returns

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.


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.

52 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.


    1. 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


  2. Melissa Shaw-Smith

    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.


    1. 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

      1. Jenny Bonynge

        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…


  3. 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.


  4. 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!


    1. 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

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 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


  5. 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!


    1. 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


    1. 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


  6. 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.


    1. 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

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 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


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

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

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