a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A wet June in the garden


Sedum border

This year the garden has had more rain than I have ever experienced here.  I noticed the yellow sedum had dropped its seeds and new plants were growing in the hollow of the next door stone.  By this time of the year moss would usually have turned to a crispy brown but it has inspired me to put some more sedum into a little pot because if it can survive on a stone it will survive in a little pot without much care from me.

Tilia platyphyllos

Everywhere is green and the trees are doing well with the extra rain.  The Linden or Lime tree (Tilia platyphyllos) is in flower and I will be taking its flowers to dry for making tea.


Of course, I won’t take all the flowers.  The bees have to have their share.  I once tasted monofloral lime honey.  It tasted like eating the wonderful perfume of the flowers, marvellous.  I usually take my tea without sugar but when I infuse the Lime tree flowers I always take it sweetened with honey.

New Dawn

The roses seem happy with the extra rain.  New Dawn is the best it has ever been, especially as some trees were removed from the neighbouring garden two years ago and she now has more light.  Still she always did well in the comparable shade and her shiny leaves keep healthier than a lot of roses.

Bobby James far-001

Bobby James has adapted well to a position under a tree.

Bobby James

The bees appreciate Bobby James too.  The pollen is taken by all the bees.


Veichenblau is almost finished flowering but is another rose that attracts the bees in quantity.  However, both these roses usually only have the one abundant flowering.


The poppies seem to have difficulty opening with the lack of the usual sunshine.  The bees became impatient with this opening poppy and five of them forced their way inside!  The pollen must taste very good or have other properties to make them want to compete in such a bundle for the pollen.

Hover fly

I have become more appreciative of the hover flies since I have learnt that, in addition to being good pollinators, their larvae are voracious consumers of aphids.  In a publication backed by the French Ministry of Agriculture it states that female syrphid or hover flies can lay between 500 and 1000 eggs and that each larva can consume between 250 to 400 aphids over its life.


I am rather pleased that this Verbascum chose a convenient spot to put down roots.  I usually have one or two in the garden as the seeds get blown in from outside.  I don’t know what species it is but I think the wild carder bees will love the down on the leaves.


The honey bees seem to collect nectar from the pretty yellow flowers but the lower leaves are usually eaten.  Until today I suspected slugs and snails.

Perhaps Mullein moth

I would never have noticed this fat caterpillar if I had not been watching the bees.  I am not sure what it is but as it is on a Mullein and looks very similar to a Mullein moth caterpillar…

Birdsfoot trefoil

Outside the garden the wild flowers are benefiting from the extra rain.  I have never seen as much birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) on the verges as there is this year.   I should use the past tense as all the verges on the little roads around us have all been cut.  France – terre de pollinisateurs mmn…



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.

26 thoughts on “A wet June in the garden

  1. What a lovely post, and with beautiful photos of the bees. We have been travelling in Italy and I noticed, particularly in Cremona, the lime trees were flowering profusely – so much so that the scent was too much for me, and I was sneezing continually! Your honey is going to taste divine this year…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your gardens are beautiful and new dawn is an old favorite rose of mine. It’s good that you’re getting plenty of rain. It’s been very dry here.


    • Thank you, I have found it easier in the garden this year with more rain. The ground is so wet I have been able to pull our the big weeds and even little saplings by hand. I think that is why gardening is so interesting because every year is different. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The rain should be great for the lime tree nectar and your honey supers. I don’t know whether you have seen the recent discussions about lime on Facebook beekeeper forums, e.g.

    “For those interested, the very earliest lime trees have just started to flower here in Southampton. Last year they didn’t yield for me as it was far too dry. This year looks far more promising.

    The ideal weather is humid sultry ( thundery ) weather with moisture in the ground too. It needs to be fairly still and a cool humid night will help. Several years ago we had a few cool foggy nights and hot humid and sultry days, for three days running. This resulted in huge amounts of nectar being secreted and my strongest hives put on 50 lb in weight over four days. It was a job to keep up with the bees and their requirements for extra space.

    With the different species and their hybrids ( along with naturally early and late flowering trees ) the nectar flow here can last for four weeks. Each individual tree is only in flower for around 10 days. The honey can vary in colour from very pale Amber to medium depending on how much honeydew the bees collect. There is usually a hint of green to the honey as a result of this.

    The fresh honey has a cool minty aftertaste with citrus overtone. It is reluctant to set, and can stay liquid in the comb at room temperature without granulation for several years, making it good for cut comb. The honey is highly fragranced and very bright and much prized for the show bench. The bees usually don’t collect pollen from the limes”

    – by Andy Willis on the British Beekeepers Association Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/BBKA.info/search/?query=lime

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very interesting! They must have a lot of lime trees. Wouldn’t it be nice if more parks and gardens planted trees with more thought for the pollinators? I think more people are becoming aware and hopefully that should work its way through society. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The caterpillar looks like a mullein moth to me too. I agree that the roses and a lot of roadside plants have loved the wet. We are not doing too badly here in the Touraine for unecessary mowing of roadsides, and there is still a lot of flowers about.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This rain seems to be everywhere this year. Your garden seems to be loving it. The lime is not out here yet, I always look forward to the divine scent. Veilchenblau is still in tight bud too.
    Yes, that is a mullein moth catterpillar or rather a larva at it is a moth. They can strip a plant quite quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Luckily the Mullein is very large and I have excepted the holes on the lower leaves as normal. I was glad to find out what made the holes and discover a moth I never knew existed. Amelia


  6. We’ve also had an unbelievable amount of rain here and more promised for tomorrow. It is the wettest year in 13 years we’ve lived in Italy. Is it because I’ve Il Nigno do you think?


    • I wonder….. In case, it is a slight relief that Britain hasn’t been singled out for a damp summer (so far). Hopefully, that means a decent crop of apples this year!

      Anyway, good to hear that others are benefitting from the moisture. And hopefully the pollinators.

      I enjoyed learning about hover flies.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The weather conditions are breaking all records in France too. I have no feeling as to why, I am just happy we have not suffered from the flooding that effected in other parts of the country. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sedum does seem to be very tolerant, I broke a piece off by accident when weeding and stuck it in the garden elsewhere, and I now have a healthy new plant. The conditions for growth (in this part of the UK) have been very good, damp and relatively warm, and some things are getting out of control!


  8. Your oses look lovely – it’s a good year for roses here too, but for greenfly as well! In our area the verges are only cut by about 1metre from the road, so there are still lots of wildflowers and grasses flowering here and like you everything is looking very lush and green in the countryside.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the photo of the yellow flowers and caterpillar, easy to miss, but once you see it….


  10. If its any consolation it has been a wet June here as well.
    When we lived in Wiltshire and kept bees we were surrounded with parkland containing lime trees, to hear the bees working the flowers was a joy as was eating the honey. I get annoyed here when Worcestershire CC cut the verges on straight lengths of road.


  11. Hello Amelia,
    the garden certainly looks lovely in spite, or because of the extra rain. A shame about the verge cutting….here the councils at last have got the message, or run out of cash, so the wildflowers get a much better chance to seed before mowing. As a result, in May the verges are now spectacular. It looks like Boby James has a really big tree to climb into, anyway!
    Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Very nice. I always marvel at the variety and size of your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

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