a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Blossom time


Back garden

Most of the trees have opened their leaves.  The lime trees and walnut are trailing behind.

New mulberry bud

After my discovery of my hazelnut flowers, I have decided to catch my mulberry flowers.  The bud is about to open!

Mulberry bud bursting

What a disappointment!  It’s not what I would call a flower but it is all the mulberry can offer.  No wonder I have missed them up until now.

Unripe fruit

These insignificant flowers turn slowly into edible red berries.  Please don’t ask me what variety this is as I have grown it from seed and kept it as a bonsai for more than twenty years now.  There are many varieties of mulberry and many varieties provide delicious berries.

Quince tree

I think my favourite blossom tree is the quince tree with its large delicate pink flowers.

Quince and bee

It is a popular flower for all the bees and I was glad to see this Andrena visiting the flowers as I have seen no honey bees near it this year.

Flowers Belle de Boskoop

The apple tree Belle de Boskoop is my second favourite with its deep rose pink buds and the lighter full flowers.


The pear trees are usually full of bees but once again this year there are few honey bees around and I was glad to see this Andrena visiting it and I have seen my Osmia cornuta in it too.

Victoria plum (1)

The Victoria plum tree is not attracting as many pollinators either.


The cherry trees are full of blossom but I have seen no bees in them this year.  The bee keepers in the area have had huge losses over this winter.  The winter was not unduly cold or wet but many of the hives in the spring still had honey but no bees.  I can notice the difference in the garden.  I even feel I am seeing less solitary bees but I do not know if this is just as a result of my concern for the fate of the local honey bees.

Carpenter in wisteria

This is also the time of year for the Wisteria blossom and I cannot leave out the Carpenter bees (Xylocopa violacea).  The perfume of the Wisteria pervades the garden.

Bumble in Wisteria

The perfume gives an extra pleasure to photographing the bees.

Back of bumbleI always see this queen carder bee at this time of year but I have given up trying to identify bumble bees.

Old hotel (1)

One of the bee hotels is situated beside a Wisteria, so it is very pleasant watching the activity.

New hotel

The new bee hotel has been very well accepted.  The seven holes in the penthouse have all been taken, seventeen in all have been filled up to now.  The drilled holes and the bamboo are both being used but none of the bamboo canes lined with paper have been accepted.

Osmia cornuta on hand

The lives of the female Osmia cornuta is one of non-stop action in an effort to lay her eggs in cells well stocked with pollen, so I was surprised when I saw this one sitting on top of the bee hotel and even more surprised when she came onto my hand.

Worn Osmia cornuta

Then I noticed that the hairs on her back were worn away.  they bring in the pollen and turn and twist in the holes packing in the pollen and then sealing the cell with mud.  All the twisting and rubbing had rubbed away the hairs and she looked very tired.  I held her up to the hotel and she disappeared into a hole.  Soon there will be less activity from bees and I will be left with the filled holes to care for until next spring.

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.

34 thoughts on “Blossom time

  1. We have had the mother lode of Mason bees hatching and then filling up the cedar drilled hotels and the fancy store bought hotel variety. So many bees that we had to drill a few more wood blocks in a hurry. 2 blocks have been carefully located to areas where there are fruit trees because we could no longer sit on our porch! I hope we have not disturbed them. Hopefully they will do their job next spring. All the holes were full. And they seem to be very resilient.

    Not like the PNW bees that got dumped on the highway this week. Very sad.



  2. Honey bees seem in particularly good numbers here. Others maybe a bit low, it’s hard to tell because of the oscillating weather (a few hot days, a few drizzly days). I think in general a normal spring here.


  3. Such beautiful blossom. So sad there are few pollinators this year.


  4. I love quince trees too, not just their blossom but also the new leaves which are a beautiful and vibrant silver-green. (Mine are only just unfurling).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We have had plenty of honey bees and bumble bees, as well as lots of others. In fact I counted seven different types one day last week…. of course, when I went out with the camera later they had all vanished!


  6. Here in Devon there seem to be plenty of bees around although this is only an anecdotal observation. Have the French losses been publicised, I havent seen anything in the press?


    • There are only anecdotal accounts in the local press but I know of at least one organisation that is taking samples and looking into the problems that have arrived with the bees here this spring. I don’t think proper reports will be able to be produced until the statistics have been correctly gathered and analysed. Also I do not know if this has affected only this area of France. Amelia


  7. So lovely Amelia, I always enjoy reading your posts and getting the latest solitary bee update.


  8. your blossom is a few days ahead of ours. I was out taking pictures today too.


  9. How wonderful to have a mulberry tree, they are so tasty (but dreadfully messy if yours is red). My kids used to pretend injuries from the juice!


    • The juice also stains! I hope they did not get it all over their clothes. Here in France they are very popular shade trees and they sell sterile ones with no fruit so you don’t get splatted if you sit underneath it. I’d rather use another tree for shade and have the mulberries. Amelia


  10. Hello Amelia,
    Lovely photos, and impressive of you to raise the mulberry tree from seed, though I agree the flowers are a little strange. Your Wisteria has stunning colours – very envious, we’ve given up trying to grow one here.
    Always scary to hear of significant bee losses, when on such a scale. It doesn’t seem to have been a harsh winter with you, so I wonder if its the dreaded multifactorial colony collapse? I guess all the blossom will last a lot longer without the usual number of pollinators around,
    Best wishes


  11. I hope there isn’t anything wrong with the bee population there. The flowers are beautiful. You’d think they would have bees all over them.


  12. All hotel space here rapidly filling up….
    the tiny holes filled first this year!!
    I’ll need to drill more…

    And I saw a mason recycling last years mud….
    it had gone in with a heavily pollen loaded undercart…
    came out and reversed in….
    as per normal… then came back to the front and began to gnaw away at the ring of mud left on the seal…
    it then turned round again and went back inside…
    did this about three times before it flew off again…
    I wish now I’d thought to have photographed it.
    But, I suppose it makes sense… it widened the entrance and helped seal up one of the brood cells without expending energy on flight…

    I love the last two pix…
    you truly are the Bee Keeper!


    • I’ve noticed the opened holes being widened during the nesting but never actually saw them re-using the old mortar although I suspected they might, very interesting. I have not seen any preference between the hollow bamboo sticks and the drilled holes but still none with the paper have been filled. My Andrena cinerarea and A. agillisima have both appeared from their nests in the garden soil. Amelia


  13. What a lovely selection of blossom. Quince is so beautiful. Mine is not out yet. You are well ahead of us.I hope you are enjoying the wonderful weather that we are enjoying here.


  14. Isn’t it wonderful when all the blossom comes out. Because of the colder winter the crab apples have huge amounts of blossom. Your wisteria looks fabulous.


    • The Wisteria is filling the garden with perfume at the moment as we are having a warm, sunny spell. The two runners that I twisted into a tree a couple of years ago is looking very good this year and full of flowers. Unfortunately, the one that was better shaped and made of three twisted runners died – of unknown causes (too little water?). Amelia


  15. We have a fair few bees around at the moment but none in my bee hotel yet. Still, I’m ever hopeful as many of the flowers in the garden are yet to come. My apple is way behind yours although my quince (Orange flowers) has been flowering since late February.


    • I think your quince sounds like a flowering quince. I put in a quince tree with edible quinces as they are not always readily available in shops and they are so good for stewing, pies and chutney. I also make mine in a lamb sauce served with rice. I hope you get some bees in your bee hotel. There are a lot of different species that might use it. Some come in the spring and other come in the summer right through till the fall. Amelia


  16. Oh good grief, I WANT that bee hotel. Not one like it. THAT one! RH


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