a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Still running to keep up


Garden April 2016

The winter was mild and now the spring is coming, as it should, with sunshine and rain showers but I am still running to keep up with the changing season.

The star of the moment is the Amelanchier – the blurry, white blossoming in the middle of the photograph above.  It looks better for real.

Bee in Amelanchier

It attracts some honey bees and bumble bees.

Bumble bee in Ribes Pulborough Scarlet

I have been so pleased this year with my Ribes sanguineum “Pulborough Scarlet” as I have managed to kill off two different varieties over the years before they even flowered.  They are usually hardy shrubs but I am pleased that this one looks very healthy and has the pulling power for the bees that I had been hoping for.

Halictus in Ribes

These tiny bees appreciate the flowers as much as the large bumble bees do.

Bee in Coronilla

The Coronilla, coaxed from cuttings from a friend’s garden, has been flowering through the winter but on sunny days its perfume becomes strong and I notice the bees in its flowers.

Anthophora in Coronilla

Perhaps the plant only produces the perfume and nectar to coincide with times when pollinators are likely to be around.

Prunus mahaleb

Another new comer is Prunus mahaleb which I planted at the beginning of last December and has now flowered despite it only being about 90 cm. tall.  It seems to be living up to expectations of lots of flowers from this little tree.


We are glad there are plenty of bees around as the cherry and plum trees are flowering.

Quince flowers

I have always been fond of our quince tree but now it appears to have become a firm favourite of our bees too!


I do love the birds we get in our garden too, so I was very happy to see the first redstarts returning.  I was rather pleased with this photograph of one seeing as it was taken with a 100 mm. Macro lens at about 25 metres distance!

Bumble in broad beans

Our broad beans, despite one cold spell, have come through the winter well and the bumble bees are making sure that I will have plenty of broad beans to shell and peel.

Outside the garden is particularly beautiful this year after a second wet winter in a row.  Bluebells, anemones, violets and Asphodel are shooting up in places I have never seen them before.  I just bent to take a picture of some Stitchwort when at the last moment I saw a dappled white butterfly watching me.

Dappled white butterfly

Another example of great camouflage.

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.

19 thoughts on “Still running to keep up

  1. Yes, definitely a great example of camouflage. A very interesting looking butterfly as well. I’ve only seen bumble bees so far this year.


  2. Beautiful photographs Amelia, they make up for the two constant hours of heavy rain here today. We have got butterflies as well, citroen yellow ones, we call,them citroentjes, also one red admiral who made it hibernating through winter I think. Birds seem to be returning to our meadow to, many thrushes, blackbirds, redbreasts and wood pigeons.


    • It is good to see the wild life coming back. We saw a Hoopoe in the garden today, pecking at our birdseed. They are not usually this early and do not often come into the garden. Amelia


  3. Spring has slowed a little for us, with falling temperatures and too much rain, although our Amelanchier is in flower, I love the blossom. Your Coronilla is beautiful Amelia, I am always amazed its hardy as it looks so tender. Great camouflage by your Butterfly and great shot too! Glad Spring is keeping you busy. 🙂


    • There is so much to do around the house (we are painting the shutters), in the garden and now the bees. I thought with the milder weather this winter I was ahead with the chores but it seems the more you do, the more you find to do! Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your butterfly is pretty. You have certainly got plenty of flowers for the bees right now. Our Ribes has also just opened and I saw so many different types of bee on it again, but I am hopeless at identifying them and if I creep out with my camera they all suddenly disappear! 😉


  5. Wow, yes! Definitely a great example of camouflage and a brilliant image too. Are you already picking broad beans? I think I must have been a bit late planting mine as none of mine are at a pickable stage.


  6. Coronilla grows prolifically around Torbay and seems to be in flower all year. For the first time yesterday I saw a bumblebee feeding on it and also smelt its perfume. It was a warmer day so perhaps that’s the reason.


    • That is interesting. In the winter my Laurier tinus was in flower beside the Coronilla and there were always bees and other pollinators on it but not on the Coronilla. I think the Coronilla holds back its perfume and nectar until the spring or warmer weather. I’ve seen it listed as originating in Spain, Portugal and Croatia. Amelia


  7. Lovely to see a redstart, Amelia – as I never have! The quince is one of my favourites too – and mine has recovered so well after an attack by deer a few years ago. D


    • I am glad your quince tree has recovered, I think they are very resilient trees. Perhaps that quality makes them a good choice for root stock. So far this year our two quince quince trees have attracted four bee swarms. O.K. three of them might have been from our hives but not the fourth. Perhaps I’ve discovered another attribute of quince trees. Keep your eyes open for dark shadowy forms attached to your quince tree. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful butterfly, Amelia I’ve never seen one of those. Look forward to some Upupa epops pics at some stage, one of my favourite birds! RH


  9. The butterfly is beautiful, quince blossom with its young leaves is a wonderful Spring sight.


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