a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

August draws to a close



August has been hot.  The garden has survived.  We have had two recent thunderstorms with rain to relieve the parched plants.  I am creating a new border on the left hand side and had new plants and cuttings that had to be watered, I just had not the time to go round all the established plants but all have survived except for my fragrant Skimmia that I had raised as a cutting from Aberdeen.  I did water it but it could not take this year’s temperatures and fierce sun.

Perennial sunflower

What has done well for this hot, dry year is the perennial sunflower.  They grow two metres tall providing a temporary hedge and provide lots of nectar and pollen for all takers.


My cutting of the wild Marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis) that grows near here has done well.  Now I have the pleasure of watching the bees gather the pink pollen in my own garden.

A walk

It has been the rare days when it has been cool enough for me to go out for our usual walks.  I have missed that this year.


The sight of brambles always spurs me on to make some jelly for the winter time.

Brambles and ivy

So the brambles were collected mid August early in the morning before the sun got too high.

Bramble jelly

I like making jelly as I make the jelly the day after I strain it which splits the preparation time into more manageable segments.  I’ve still got some juice that I have frozen awaiting the quieter (?) days in the winter.


As the apples started to fall off the trees I made chutney with them and red tomatoes.

Swallowtail Papillo machaon

I became gradually suspicious of the baby Caryopteris my sister gave me last autumn.  It started off very small but in recent weeks has had an amazing growth and has produced very distinctive flowers.  I shall forgive her as I would never have got such a good shot of the Swallowtail butterfly and we need something to temporarily screen the hives from the road.  The buddleia  will be transplanted in the autumn.

Lampides boeticus

On the subject of butterflies – I thought I knew what these were when I saw the little tails on their wings.  I thought they were short-tailed blues but in fact they are long-tailed blues (Lampides boeticus) – not that their tails look very long to me.

Long tail blue

From another angle you can see that the male is blue on his upper side.

Belle de Nuit

Belle de nuit (Mirabilis jalapa) is not one of my favourite flowers but it always pops up somewhere at this time of the year.

Yellow Belle de Nuit Mirabilis jalapa

This will probably be due to furtive seed sowing by my husband who does like them, especially the yellow ones.  The perfume is very distinctive.  Wikipedia says it is similar to tobacco flowers, which I disagree with.  It reminds me of something I cannot place, with a “cheap perfume” odour.  Has anyone any other descriptions of its perfume?

Frog in a hole

I sympathised with our little tree frog who escaped out of the heat into a hole in the wall of the house.  I have never seen him there before.

Under tree

But the August highlight was when littlest grandchild came for a visit.

Apple grab

So many apples to eat!


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.

38 thoughts on “August draws to a close

  1. We’ve had the same weather here with very little rain. They say we’ll see 90 degrees F again next week.
    Your granddaughter is a cutie!


  2. Nice post, nice garden, and cute grandchild.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s been hot here too (Oregon Coast). I can relate to your discomfort with walking when it’s hot. We have to make sure our walk starts out early in the morning.
    I’ve never heard of a perennial sunflower, but what a beautiful photo. I might have to look into that.
    I also like the pink pollen on the wild Marshmallow plant. I’ve NEVER seen pink pollen.
    Grandkids are so cute. How old is she? I’m guessing about 3.


    • I was given the plants as they spread mainly through their very strong roots. They could get invasive if you left them to themselves but I find I can control them by ripping them out where I don’t want them when they surface in the spring. The roots catch very easily but I am not so sure about the seeds, they would probably not flower in the first year. I could send you some if I get any. Roya is two and likes the garden. I showed her my Stachys plant and got her to touch the lovely soft leaves. I asked her if she knew what it was called. “Yes, lambs’ ears.” she replied. Explanation – her other grandmother is a very keen gardener with a beautiful garden! Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This has been the first summer we have not really enjoyed in France. The heat has stopped us doing so much that we like and has left the garden scorched, though we have only lost a few plants.


  5. I do envy you the hot summer, we have had one or 2 hot days but I would love a few more.
    I can’ t remember a summer when there was such an abundance of fruit of all kinds. Gorgeous butterflies and such a cute granddaughter. I bet you had lots of fun with her.


  6. I echo Chloris envy for your hot sunny weather …even if its been a bit unbearable. Lovely butterfly and granddaughter photos, and you’ll be set fair for winter with all that jelly and chutney,


  7. A lovely post again, Your butterflies are amazing and I share your love of preserving the summer with your jellies and chutneys. Sue


  8. An absolutely priceless photo of your granddaughter. Clearly the most beautiful item in your garden. Frame it.


  9. Lovely pictures!
    Have you seen any ivy bees yet? Here the ivy is just getting ready to flower.


    • I have a note in my diary to look at the nesting site again but our ivy is not in flower yet. Some of the plants are going into an early autumn and the brambles were early but the ivy seems about the same as usual here this year. Amelia


  10. The contents of those jars looks exceptionally good! RH


  11. Looks like a fantastic, productive summer in spite of the heat you’ve suffered. August has been so disappointing here in Cambridge. Congratulations on your beautiful granddaughter and stunning photos.


    • Everyone has courgettes and tomatoes in plenty with all this heat and sunshine, we even have lots of aubergine this year. However, with all this heat a lot of the leaves are changing colour and the trees are losing their leaves. We had lunch under the big plum tree today. It was over 30 degrees yet the leaves were starting to fall like autumn. It felt strange. Amelia


  12. a very enjoyable post, and what a treat to see your granddaughter with her apples.


    • That little child has a real appetite for fruit, it is amazing how many apples she can consume. My neighbour Annie brought her a big dish of raspberries after she had watched Roya graze on her bushes and we had to portion them out to her! Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  13. So much to see and enjoy in this post, the swallowtail butterfly had it until I saw the last picture, Bless!


  14. So you are busy sharing your beautiful garden with butterflies and grandchildren, possibly the best visitors! Thanks for sharing with us too


  15. Your granddaughter is beautiful Amelia, lovely photos of her enjoying your garden. We have rain here again, we need to do some form of trade, a little of your heat for some of our rain. I really love your Long Tailed Butterfly duo photograph, a species we do not have over here. Like you though we do have abundant hedgerows and produce. Hope you do get some rain soon.


    • I think we really needed to mix up the British summer with our over-hot one this year to get something to keep the gardeners happy. Amelia


      • Honestly, Amelia….
        surely you realise by now that gardeners are farmers….
        we like nothing better than to discuss and complain about the weather!! 😉

        It is a shame that your grandaughter hasn’t got a trolley to harvest all those apples with…
        she has a look on her face that seems to say…
        “I can manage these, but what can I do with all the others!?”

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Apple and tomato chutney? Feel like sharing your recipe. This is a bonanza apple year for us, and I need new ideas for using them.


    • I base my recipe on a very old cookery book by Margaret Patten that I have had for years. 2lb fruit, a large onion,1/2 pint good vinegar,1-2 teaspoon mixed pickling spices, 3 oz. sultanas or raisins, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 10 oz sugar (she uses white, I use brown). You chop the fruit and put your spices in a muslin bag with half the vinegar and cook gently until the fruit is soft adding more vinegar if need be slowly. After the fruit is soft remove the muslin bag and add the sugar and continue cooking until you get a constituency like jam. It is a very versatile recipe and you can add tomatoes, strips of red or green pepper (all skinned), green tomatoes also different spices can be added according to taste like ginger or cinnamon. Mine never turns out exactly the same, it depends on what is available. Think about the colours and the look of the mixture. Good luck. Amelia


  17. Your granddaughter is a real sweetheart, you must have had a wonderful time with her. This summer has been very hot and so very different to last year when there was rain and cooler temperatures, so I was spoilt. Gifts of small cuttings are almost always suspect, but the shot of the swallow tail certainly makes up for the disappointment of it not being a Caryopteris.


    • Last year certainly spoiled me too. This year the summer seemed to pass so quickly as I didn’t do the same things as I usually do. However, the weather is becoming more reasonable now so perhaps we are going to have a good late season. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  18. As I expect you know, it has not been hot, or dry, here! Lovely to see a garden that is not waterlogged. The tree frog is gorgeous,

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The photos of your grand daughter picking apples are adorable! I do love your butterfly pictures too, it seems so rare to see butterflies now. I may try planting marshmallow in our garden too. Like you, I wonder where this summer has passed, it has come and gone so quickly but I see it’s been a wonderful summer in your garden! 🙂


    • It has been a good summer but I’ve seen less solitary bees inside and outside the garden and I wonder if the hot dry weather resulted in less nectar for them. However, we are still having good weather which is fine for the honey bees. Amelia


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