a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Reflections towards the end of July



White bougainvillia-001

It was after I read Sue’s post “White is cool” that I remembered that white was our favourite colour for flowers too.  The white oleander was planted in front of the house shortly after we bought it and years before we moved here.  I too loved the idea of a white area.  Crathes Castle garden, near Aberdeen, had a beautiful white border and I intended to find a place in the garden for a display of stunning white flowers.

However, my initial design of my white summer hedge has now the addition of an untidy but profusely flowering lilac Lavatera and hidden from view underneath is a winter flowering honeysuckle.

Gaura nectar bee-001

We meticulously selected the seed from the whitest Gaura, but then gave up as it self-seeded over the garden and we were happy to replant whatever turned up as the bees did not mind either pale pink or pure white.

Molene honey bee-001

And then there are the plants that take up residence of their own volition.

Molene syrphe-001

The wild Verbascum has been flowering non-stop since June welcoming the hover flies and

Molene wild bee-001

bees of all kinds which gather large quantities of the bright orange pollen early in the morning leaving the yellow petals strewn around the plant like confetti.

Acc. sej.-001

Then there are the plants that suddenly beg attention.  Some years ago Kourosh “acquired” a couple of seeds of Feijoa sellowiana.  The seeds germinated and lived in pots that I tended until I was able to get rid of them into a new border.  This year they have shot up to more than a metre in height and flowered for the first time.

Feijoa sellowiana-001

The flowers are extremely attractive and as they belong to the myrtle they should also be attractive to bees.  I will have to wait until autumn to see if any fruit is formed, another extra as the fruits are edible.

Vegetable garden-001

Another additional problem with planning a garden can be illustrated by our vegetable garden.  Planning must be done in advance and, as can be seen, we have our long, sturdy tomato stakes in place but very weak, short tomato plants.  The cooler, wet June was not to their liking and now the high temperatures that are soaring now in July are drying them out before they have time to grow.

Leek flower-001

At least the couple of leeks I have left to flower from last year provide me with some amusement as I ponder on the likelihood of  making homemade tomato sauce this year.


Kourosh spotted this beautifully fashioned “pot” in the house wall.

Polistes dominula European paper wasp-001

I thought it might belong to these wasps that are using the bird bath.  However, I think these are European paper wasps (Polistes dominula) and I have seen their nests around in previous years.

Polistes sparkle-001

I noticed they gather the water differently.  You get the careful type that holds onto the side and gently laps from the edge of the water.

Sparkle wasp-001

Then you get the cool guys who do a full belly-flop onto the water, maintaining themselves by surface tension and float while taking their fill.


The success of the large oregano clump in attracting the bees has also made me think of modifying my planting.

Lavendar clump-001 The large clumps of flowers, like the lavender and nepeta, attract more bees, so I am going to try to spread my plants less in the future.  However, the garden will have the last word.  The yellow haze of cat’s ears (Hypochaeris radicata), visible in the background, has developed on its own.

Dasypoda (1)-001

Without them, we would miss watching the Dasypoda bees bouncing from flower to flower at this time of year.



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 “Reflections towards the end of July

  1. Love the variety and bee-bounty.


  2. I grow a lot of oregano along the edges of some borders, I read in one of Christopher Lloyd’s books that he recommended doing this. I love it, both for the bees and for cooking… good post . Sue


    • I think I will use it more in the garden and in my salad. I like a lot of raw herbs like tarragon and I have just discovered how good fresh oregano is. Even the flowers are tasty. Amelia


  3. I’m glad you have so many bees there. I’ve been seeing quite a few here this year as well, so maybe they’re doing better.


    • The honey bees get the most publicity because there are beekeeping records going back a long way. The wild bees are different because nobody knows what used to be around (apart from a few limited areas) to compare. I hope that as more ordinary folk understand, the better things will get. I am reading “The invention of Nature” about Humbolt (1769-1859) so its not as if these ideas are new. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have never tried to grow just one colour in an area of my garden, but imagine it would be lovely – I think most gardens have a mind of their own though and as long as the bees are happy… Your garden looks like a real paradise for the insects!


  5. Such variety it’s no wonder you have so many different bees. It’s like a buffet for them!


  6. I remember visiting Sissinghurst Garden in Kent when the white garden was in flower, very impressive!
    Do you think the “pot” was made by a potter wasp? see this http://johnwalters.co.uk/research/potter-wasps.php


    • I have seen wasps like this, or very similar, I think they are quite attractive. My pot hatched out, as the article explains, a few days ago. I must try and get a picture of them as I am sure I have seen them on flowers in the garden. Thank you. Amelia


  7. The wide range of plants you have certainly brings its reward with all the different insects that visit your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fascinating post Amelia, with great photos, and I love the little pot – well spotted. It looks like the weather has been very good in July after your soggy June, and the garden is looking lovely. I think vegetable gardening is really tricky – what’s good one year invariably isn’t the next, and I suppose we’re constantly assessing our results against what is available commercially, which can make home grown seem less successful – but it nearly always performs better on freshness and flavour. Does the Feijoa have a common name – the flowers look stunning,
    best wishes


  9. Beautiful photos! The garden looks lovely! I think the wasps could be a Yellow Paper Wasp- European wasps have black antennae only. See: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/invasive-species/european-wasp-identification-guide for identification.


  10. I love seeing white flowers in the evening, when they really stand out and glow in the twilight.


  11. I like to have white flowers near the terrace if I can as they look luminescent in the evening. But I’m not so strict, I will let in anything that is happy to flower at this time of year. The wasps who make the clay nests are narrow waisted. There are live spiders inside to feed the larvae.

    Liked by 1 person

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