a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Yellow and purple


Verbena & sunflower

I have just realised how many of the flowers in the garden at the moment are either yellow or purple.  It was not intentional.  These perennial sunflowers were only used as a temporary filler to separate me from the next garden where I am creating a new border where trees have been removed.

Bumble on yellow sunflower

I have enjoyed them so much and they have survived so well in this extra hot year that they have won their place to stay.

The Verbena bonariensis work well with them and I am finding more self-seeded babies that I will mix with them for next year.

Amistad and sunflower

The sunflowers provide the perfect backdrop for my Salvia amistad which are a new addition to my salvias this year.

Salvia Amistad & uliginosa

The Salvia amistad is planted beside the Salvia uliginosa, also in its first year.  I saw it last year in a post by the Anxious Gardener but as it is pale blue it is not really allowed in this post.

Salvia Amistad

I could not imagine the Salvia Amistad being such a favourite with the bees but it must contain a lot of nectar as the bees completely disappear down the flower to remain there for some time before emerging looking very self-satisfied.

Salvia Amistad and bee

The bumbles prefer the shorter flowers of the uliginosa but I have seen them find another way to reach the nectaries by pushing aside the sepals like this bee above is doing.  Trying to walk down the throat of the flower is not an option for the fat bumble bees.

Cosmos and bumble

My Cosmos sulphureus was also an after thought this year and I put the seeds down late into any space that had a patch of soil vacant.

Cosmos Sulphureus

Their bright patches are a magnet for all sorts of bees and some are already setting seed which I will leave for the birds to feast on.  I will also be keeping enough seed for next year too as these ideal fillers and brighteners.

Geranium Megachile

My blue (they look purple to me) geraniums are starting to emerge from where the hot sun has been keeping them at bay.  These are the true geraniums and provide pollen for the bees, not like the stiff pelargoniums that are frequently grown as potted plants over here but have no attraction for bees or pollinators.

Korean Beauty

I have a Clematis “Korean Beauty” growing at the moment.  My sister, who loves clematis, gave me the seeds which I have dutifully germinated.  I find clematis infuriating as I try to guide them to a more upright orderly pattern but they usually end up forming tangled balls of untidy growth.  Then when I try and sort them out I end up snipping the wrong stem and finish with a flowering spray of clematis in one hand and a stunted looking plant left in the ground.

Bumble with Korean Beauty (1)

However, Korean Beauty has won her place in the garden because the bees love her and I like watching their antics as they search for the nectar.  The bumble bee above could hardly wait for the flower to open so that it could get first in line for the nectar.


My first sowing of Phacelia in the vegetable patch has finished.  It has stood guard over the saffron and kept the area virtually weed free.  Now I am waiting for the saffron shoots to appear.

New Phacelia

The experiment worked so well that I have sown another patch on the vegetable garden where some lettuce and greens have finished.  It is fun to watch the bees with purple pollen.

Malva sylvestris

I have been thinking about native flowers and although I try and pull out as much of the Mallow sylvestris that I can, I wonder if I am being too harsh.  It can be very invasive but perhaps I should find a legal corner for it.

Common Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica

I did sow some common Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica) last year because of its attraction for pollinators but time will tell if I will regret doing this.

Tradescantia (2)

My tradescantia has just started to flower for the second time this year with its purple petals and yellow tipped stamens.  And I must not forget to mention the little purple flowers of the nepeta pushing into the picture from the side.  The nepeta is a real workhorse of a flower for a hot dry garden and has, of course, purple flowers.


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.

27 thoughts on “Yellow and purple

  1. Your garden looks a really happy place to be Amelia, I always think those ‘blue’ geraniums look more purple too. Cosmos sulphureus looks lovely, I grew Cosmos ‘Purity’ this year a white form but have just added ‘sulphureus’ to my list for next year.


  2. Your garden still looks very summery, here it feels very autumnal and I dont see as many flowers which means fewer bees.
    I enjoyed your bee pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. The weather here has continued hot which let us get away for four days to the Correze. The weather has just turned and rain is forecast for the rest for the week which makes us feel very smug about the timing of our break. Amelia


  3. Your orange Cosmos is lovely. I grew several types this year, most of them brilliant but the slugs ate my orange ones! Must try again next year.


  4. It is interesting that late summer is more about bright colours to attract the bees, rather than the strong perfumes of winter and spring. It is ingenious how bees can find their way into difficult flowers. I had very large Datura, the flowers of which open at dusk, but the bees couldn’t wait to get into the flower and so made holes in the base of the bud so they could get at the nectar.


  5. So colorful. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Pleased you’re growing uliginosa, Amelia – one of my favourites. There is something very satisfying about having insects feed on plants you’ve grown. D


  7. Your garden is certainly bee friendly and you have so many lovely blooms. I noticed this year that Phacelia smells lovely too, so well worth growing.


  8. The flowers are beautiful. I’ve never heard of the Korean Beauty clematis. It has unusual but pretty flowers.


  9. Very handy catalogue of bee-kind flowers, Amelia. I’d forgotten about mallow, which I love. Mrs RH does not. We don’t have any! RH


  10. Clematis “Korean Beauty” is very aptly named. I have not seen a yellow Cosmos before, can I ask, where did you source the seed from?


  11. I’m envious of your Phacelia. Mine was growing well until the deer found it. (I can’t deer proof everything). You’ve got so many flowers that are still blooming. Nice going!


  12. What a beautiful garden. I always think of the purples and yellows as spring flower colours.


  13. Yellows and purples are glorious colours for autumn – purple for those misty morning skies and yellow for late sunshine. Your garden is a heady place for bees and butterflies, I’m keeping your list of late flowering bee-pleasers to plant in our garden for next year.


    • I keep a plant “wish list” and I make a note if I see a mention of any plants or flowers that are bee friendly when I read blogs. When I visit the UK I have it handy when I visit nurseries. Very little gets planted now without the bees in mind. Amelia


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