a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

It’s been hot!


Laurier rose

I have found the high temperatures of this summer difficult in the garden but there are some things that do well in the heat,  like this white oleander outside the house.  It was a mild winter and it was not frozen so it is looking its best ever.  I would have never have planted it if I had known that it really needs to be protected in the winter here.  However, I coddled it and wrapped it while it was little.  Now if it freezes I will just cut of the damaged parts and trust that it will survive.


The Hydrangea has lapped up the sun and temperatures in the high 30’s centigrade (we managed to get to 40 degrees centigrade one day).

Baby Hydrangea

Even its little cuttings that are going into their second summer in a rough, dry spot beside a wall are surviving well.

Hydrangea Savill gardens

Not all the plants get such a tough treatment.  I bought this Hydrangea, called “Savill Garden”, at Savill Gardens last October when they still had a lovely show of Hydrangeas.  It is in my new “stick border” where I have to mark the new plants with a stick to make sure they don’t get lost in the weeds and I am watering these until they get established.


The Canna has done a grand job in providing a screen where trees have either fallen down or been removed along my “stick border”.

Choisia Aztec pearl

My lovely Choisia “Aztec Pearl” was moved last autumn to provide hedging but was not such a good choice as the Canna.  It may well succumb to heat stroke despite my improvised parasol.


I only managed to raise five plants out of a whole packet of lupin seed I started inside in the autumn.  They are supposed to flower in the first year but I’ll be lucky if they survive to next year.

Hibiscus tronum

A happier outcome of my seed sowing are these Hibiscus tronium.  I saw these during my visit to the Savill Garden last October.  They are also called “Flower of an Hour” as the flowers do not last longer than a day.  They were growing and flowering in a shady part of the garden in October although they are supposed to like hot, sunny spots.  These are in a pot in full sun but I have others in the ground and I am looking forward to seeing where they will grow over here.

Stick garden

At least the middle part of the “stick garden” is starting to take shape.


It now completes the circle started by the willows (Salix alba Chermesima) I planted in January of 2014.


The thyme and ..Chaomille

the chamomile planted under the willows have provided a good ground cover.

First squash

Our first butternut squash has appeared as have the tomatoes and courgettes.

bee in pumpkin

The squash and courgettes provide good early morning entertainment watching the bees hunt for the nectar at the base of their flowers then struggling out covered with the pollen.

Gourd 2

My husband planted some decorative gourd seed this year and I am looking forward to seeing the different shapes.  He also bought a half price packet of wild flower seed at the supermarket check out – lured by the reduction and the picture of Maya the Bee on the front of the packet.  The seeds have been planted at the bottom of the garden as a special patch for the bees.   We will see how it turns out.

Plum tree

The plum tree provides a deep shade and a pleasant resting place for the blackbirds and other birds who do not share the sweet plums 50:50 with us.  The chairs have to be upended and the table well washed before using it at this time of year.  A radio placed in the branches playing France Inter will keep the birds at bay long enough to set the table.

Baby wren

This is the time to watch the antics of the baby birds in the garden.  This baby wren was quite happy to stay in my gardening shoes on the patio.  It is embarrassing to post a photograph showing the state of my gardening shoes but it could have been worse – it might have been a photograph showing the state of my gardening trousers.

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.

30 thoughts on “It’s been hot!

  1. Gardeners are supposed to get dirty.
    The garden looks beautiful! Here in the states oleander is a southern shrub that you only see where there is little chance of frost. It looks perfectly happy there.


  2. We’re all wilting here in Auvergne too. Hoping for rain at the weekend!


  3. The oleander looks great – it is a stalwart of many Australian gardens (it is too cold to grow it where I live). The hydrangeas are coping so well. Here, if the temperature gets above 28C the leaves scorch and they wilt. Yet yours are in full, unprotected sun and doing very well! I might try moving some from the shady areas to toughen them up!


    • The Hydrangea is sheltered by a wall from the late afternoon sun but it is in full sun from first thing until after three in the afternoon at the moment. I might just have a particularly tough plant as they were a popular plant on the West of Scotland where I grew up and the climate is totally different. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oleander does really well in my yard and my neighbors. They are both quite tall and well filled out. I fear my Hydrangea isn’t going to make it where it’s been doing well for years. I’ve added onto my house and it’s completely in the shade. I’m going to try to transplant it somewhere in my yard.

    Your garden looks amazing! Your shoes with the little wren in one…priceless!


  5. Love your pink hydrangea.


  6. Your weather sounds similar to ours. I have already had enough of the hot weather. Your hydrangeas are doing very well in the heat, is your soil heavy clay? Here they are better in light shade, I keep meaning to get one for the terrace.


    • I can’t remember a summer with such continuously hot weather here. Usually we get a few very hot days followed by a good thunderstorm which clears it and normal temperatures prevail. Strangely, the soil is limestone and sandy but the Hydrangea does get protected by a wall from the late afternoon sun. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I grew up with oleanders everywhere. They were totally no maintenance plants, so popular on farms. As a consequence I was never all that fond of them, and we were frequently warned about how poisonous they are (lots of stories about old bushies stirring their tea with an oleander twig and keeling over stone dead within the hour…) However they redeemed themselves by being adopted as a caterpillar host plant for the crow butterflies (big dark brown, almost black and white butterflies related to monarchs and the tropical tiger butterflies). They have metallic silver chrysalises.

    It’s been a great year for wild lupins here. They are rare and endangered, but put on a fantastic display by the Loire, just opposite a big LeClerc supermarket, and I saw them on the side of the motorway near Chinon too.

    My observation in the garden is that dry kills as often as cold and plants that are sold as drought tolerant will often die in a dry spell. I’ve had lavender die far more often from dry than wet for instance.

    Your wren baby is more advanced than here. I photographed a really fluffy one yesterday in Tim’s garden. Huge feet and disgruntled expression 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You don’t want to use Oleander for DIY kebab sticks, that’s for sure, but it is also held to be repulsive to mosquitoes. I can’t say I can verify that and I suppose because it is an “exotic” here it does not seem to support many insects although the only glow worm I have seen this year is at its base, same position as last year. Amelia


  8. The Oleander is magnificent. I always thought they were gender but I have 2 which have survived for years in an unhearted greenhouse. Lovely hydrangeas coping so well with the heat. What a great shot of the wren.


    • The young wren may have come from an outhouse where wrens have taken over an old house martin nest. We keep the door closed to keep out any wandering neighbourhood cats and it provides a great area for flight practice as it is open at the sides up high. Amelia


  9. I love the smell of Oleander and yours is looking a picture. The cannas are looking very tall and impressive too.


  10. I remember having a patch of well established hydrangeas when I lived in Nottingham and in the summer they would wilt if they were not watered, so you are doing well.


    • I do water them sometimes, just not a lot, considering we are having such a heatwave at the moment. Both the hydrangeas and I will be happier when the weather cools down a bit. Amelia


  11. What a lovely garden you have! The Hibiscus tronium are so pretty. If only Ireland could just get a tiny bit of the heat that you are experiencing! 😉


  12. Thank you, it is surprising how limiting the higher temperatures can be. Usually when it is hot and sunny I want to stay outside but this year the high temperatures are keeping me in! Amelia


  13. Phew it does look a bit hot and dry yet you have lots looking good too. I really like the Hibiscus with the dark throat. As for the shoes, well I didnt spot the bird at first glance, so cute.


  14. I’ve planted some ornamental gourds too. I’m ridiculously excited about how they’ll turn out. I do like your hibiscus. I grow H. ‘Oiseau Bleu’ and an unnamed wishy-washy pink. Neither as nice as yours. I have hibiscus envy. D


  15. My gardening shoes and my walking shoes are all a mess but I guess that’s they way they’re ment to be. Comfort is more important than style for these things. The hydrangea implanted this year is not at all happy with the horribly humid summer we’re having. I have my fingers crossed it will survive.


    • I go for comfort too in walking shoes but these plastic gardening shoes are very practical and can be washed but I don’t find them comfortable. Maybe there is a niche for comfortable and practical gardening shoes? I’m sure your Hydrangea will be fine once spring comes, they are remarkably resilient plants. Amelia


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