a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Back home in June!


Front garden

Back home and it looked as if I hadn’t missed as much of the flowers as I thought I would.

Pink rose

The roses are still flowering.

World domination

And the Arum lily at the back looks as if it is set for world domination again this year.

Back garden

The back garden looks good from afar.

Stick garden

But when you look closer into the borders, the weeds have out-competed the plants.  Especially in my new border where I have been wise enough to mark my new plants with a stick, otherwise I would lose them to the competition.

growing stick

I had to put in so many sticks beside the plants that I named it my “stick garden”.  I prefer to use sticks from the trees in the garden to lessen the unpleasant impact but I had not counted on so many of them sprouting so vigorously like this one!

Early bumble Veichenblau

I have spent most of my days weeding since I have returned from my holidays but I still like to watch my bees like this early bumble bee in the Veilchenblau rose.

Bee in Viechenblau

It is not always that the bumble bees and honey bees like the same flowers, however, the Veilchenblau pollen is a favourite with both of them.  The pollen is this lovely yellow/orange shade.


The bees have got competition from the chafer beetles so pollen gathering is done rapidly in the morning and there is plenty to go round for everyone.

Bee in poppy

The poppies are another sought after source of pollen, even if it looks as if they are carrying little sacks of coal.  There are some poppies with yellow pollen but if anything the black pollen seems to be favoured by both the bumbles and honey bees.  This means that by the afternoon the poppies are in a sorry state with the stamens completely decimated.

Bee in Cotoneaster

Another joint favourite of the bumbles and honeybees at the moment are the tiny flowers of the cotoneaster for their nectar.  I have seen a lot of hornets, both Asian and European on the cotoneaster recently.

Peony 2 bees plus

I had never noticed peonies being very popular  with the bees but these little wild bees like this one’s pollen and there is something more.

Peony and bug

I presume this is another type of chafer – more furry and cuter, but I have never seen one before.

Macroglossum stellatarum

The weather has been getting warmer these past few days and yesterday was 35 degrees Centigrade.  It feels like summer with lots of Humming Bird Hawk Moths (Macroglossum stellatarum) flying through the Centranthus ruber and Nepeta.


When we left on holiday the captured swarm was still in its polystyrene temporary accommodation but when we returned Michel had kindly transferred it to its proper home at the bottom of the garden.

Yellow pollen

I now know where to find Kourosh if he is not around.

Black pollen

He will be watching his girls at the bottom of the garden.  I know where that bee got her black pollen from!

Bee gym

He is a well-behaved beginner and does not disturb the bees but he has lifted the top board to slide a Bee Gym on top of the frames.  I had read about this on Emily’s blog http://adventuresinbeeland.com/2013/11/03/into-the-dark-of-winter/.  I had thought it sounded a novel and interesting idea.  You can read more about it here at Bee Gym.

Empty ruchette

However, the second “ruchette” has remained empty, although it had looked like a swarm was very interested in it before we left on holiday.   Our neighbour Annie said that the weather turned cooler when we left so that might be the explanation.  Never mind, Kourosh is more than pleased with his swarm…and in addition interest has been renewed in the “ruchette” with the onset of warmer weather.





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.

33 thoughts on “Back home in June!

  1. It’s too bad that weeds don’t take a vacation! I’m sure you had a lot of them to pull when you got back.
    That pink rose is a real beauty.


  2. Love that moth photo. Let us know how you get on with the Bee Gym. I bet they’re busy propolising it down right now!


    • They may take a little while to get used to it. We can’t put anything under the hive just now as it is so hot and they need all the ventilation they can get but a check will be made when the weather cools down. Amelia


  3. The bee and moth photos are spectacular. I’m amazed at how quickly the sticks have taken….I normally don’t get that success rate when I’m striking cuttings 🙂


    • It’s typical! Not all cuttings take but I used the trimmings of my Cornus alba (Dogwood) which had been lying around for ages and I think most of them started sprouting! I’ve had to pull them out and replace them upside down and they had roots. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your roses are lovely. I’m sure you will get the weeds under control.


    • They are nice in the garden at this time of the year but I cannot take any credit for them as I leave them to my husband as I don’t like when the leaves go spotty and the fact that they have thorns. Despite this he lets me cut them for in the house! Amelia


  5. I’m so happy your bees have stayed and even been upgraded to their new home. Kourosh now has the biggest problem of all beekeepers – leaving the girls in peace to do their thing. It’s so tempting to open up and get a good look!

    What is that black pollen? I would have guessed it’s propolis.

    I don’t think anyone around here has a bee gym – I’ve certainly never seen one – but since we don’t have varroa (yet) I guess it’s something I’ll keep in the back of my mind for any future need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The black pollen is from the poppies. They are taking a lot of it into the hive at this moment. The bumble bees and solitary bees are all after it and despite the large numbers of poppies I have they are all about finished by midday. It must be good stuff! Amelia


  6. I hope the chafer beetles aren’t harmful. I found several beautiful metallic green ones like yours hiding in the mulch of my garden this spring. Your beehive is so elegant!


    • The chafers will eat the centres of flowers and the graze on the stamens. The ancestral chafers were around to pollinate the first flowers – before bees evolved. There are so many flowers at the moment that I don’t grudge them their share of the bounty. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We have to do the same trick with sticks to mark out where our perennials are or they get lost in weeds.


  8. Love the photos of the girls. The chafer in the paeony is a bee beetle Trichius sp.


  9. What a great set of photographs, Amelia…
    and your “cute” chafer is a Bee Beetle… Trichius sp. ….
    there are three different ones in Chinnery’s book…
    And your Rose Chafer picture is great, too!

    I will follow the link to the “bee gym” later…
    looks very interesting from the photo.

    And your “stick” garden twig that is sprouting looks like a willow to me…
    in which case, it has roots and you can transplant it later!!
    Should you wish, of course!?



    • Thanks for the ID of the Bee Beetle – that’s a name I will remember. I was quite taken with it, I must try and find out a bit more about it. I hope it doesn’t eat bees, though.


      • No… it is, as you identified, one of the chafer group… I presume it is named because of the vague resemblance to a bee… probably named as such by an elderly curate after a good French-style lunch.
        Susan, who must have been typing as I was… but was shorter and more concise… will have all the relevant info at her fingertips…. or will know where to look!!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. That lily really is a wonderful sight, and your roses are lovely too. I have seen one solitary hummingbird hawk moth so far…


  11. How lovely to have such hot summery weather. Beautiful photos of flowers and bees.


    • Thank you. The temperature is getting too hot for me to work comfortably in the garden, it is in the high 20’s. It is not usually as hot as that in early June. We had a lot of rain this winter and this heat has brought all the plants out to make it a special June. amelia


  12. Lovely photos Amelia. I have seen the Veilchenblau rose on Christina’s blog and now seeing it on yours with the bees and beetles, I think I’d like to grow one here. Love the Daisies in your lawn too, we are mowing around ours this year.


    • My husband took cuttings of them from a friend’s garden some years ago. We have two – one in full sun and the other in shade. Both do well but the one in the shade seems to be winning. One of the good points about it is that the leaves keep nice and healthy and we don’t treat them. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  13. We just installed bees into new hives. I liked that your hive body had an awning! Maybe a little sign? (My husband suggests “Bistro.”


    • Mmm. the bees pausing for a coffee on the terrace? Actually, the style is more of the hives kept in the mountains here and I’d always thought of it as a place of shelter from rain and wind but with the temperatures we are having at the moment it is giving more shelter from the sun. Have you kept bees for long? Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been a beekeeper for one whole week. It took years of research to make the leap–but with all the trouble the bees are having, I felt it was time to step in and provide a safe home.


        • Another new beekeeper! Remember you can help more bees by supporting your natural wild bees. The honey bee is not a native species in many countries and commercial beekeeping could put pressure on the many thousands of native bees, many of which are on the red list and are endangered species. Amelia


          • We have native bees and we’re planting wildflowers for them. We’re also keeping our beekeeping to a minimum–3 Langstroth hives. We also know that the pesticides that are killing off the honeybees are also devastating the wild populations. So, anything we can do will help. That includes keeping our 50 acres poison free and natural.


            • Keeping 50 acres natural and poison free is certainly doing your share for the pollinators and biodiversity. We do not intend to go over 3 hives either. I look forward to finding out how you get on. Amelia

              Liked by 1 person

  14. That all looks terrific. And the bees are such a great adventure. We’d love to do that but the guy who would have made it work (because we are not around full time) went on a course, then lost interest. So I’ll get my fix from your blog (and indeed Emily’s and her co-keeper Emma’s)… RH


    • Getting started has been quite a lot of work and I don’t know how we would have managed without Michel. There are such a lot of bits and pieces that you need. It has been fun though! Amelia


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