Autumn arrives in yellow


A misty start to a cool morning but at least we have had six millimetres of rain.


The early morning mist adds to the autumn feeling.


But the sun burns through and lights up the Maple-leaved Ash.  I don’t have many red leaves in the garden in the autumn.


My best autumn colours are yellow, many of the trees brown and lose their leaves rapidly.  The Mulberry bush is starting to be eye catching.  Actually it was supposed to be a Mulberry tree but it had an accident just as it was really getting going but it accepted its unintentional coppicing with a better grace than Kourosh did.  This is another tree he has raised from seed.

I thought I would try and find out if we should hope for fruit soon and did an Internet search.  Taking my source as the FAO (Food and Health Organisation of the United Nations) I found out that Mulberry trees are commonly dioecious but may be monoecious, and sometimes will change from one sex to another.

This did not reassure me that we had any hope of ever getting any white mulberries.  So if it is dioecious we will not get any fruit as we do not have a second tree in the vicinity to pollinate female flowers and if it produces only male flowers we will still have no fruit.  Let us hope that it is monoecious and produces both male and female flowers as it can self pollinate.


We have a happy event this year with the Loquat tree or Eriobotrya japonica.  This is another of Kourosh’s seedlings!  (We do buy most of our trees, this is just coincidence.)


For the first time the tree has flower buds.  They are just starting to shoot out.  The tree has not been watered over our dry summer yet is not showing any signs of stress.  In fact, it looks as if it has enjoyed the hot weather.


The flowers are not yet mature and the fruit, if we get any, would not be ripe until next year.  I doubt whether any fruit would survive the winter here but I am curious to know what the bees will think about the perfumed flowers.


I thought we had gathered all the walnuts but as the leaves start to fall they reveal still more fruit on the tree.  Sometimes the outer green covering cracks and the bare walnut falls to the ground but usually the whole fruit falls and you have to remove the outer covering as best as you can.  You can usually break off the green coating with your foot or wear plastic gloves as it stains your hands dark brown.  The dark brown stain will also stain fingernails a permanent dark brown.  I did not find this out from Wikipedia.


In the front garden the Kaki or Persimmon fruit are just starting to peep through the mainly still green leaves.  Soon the leaves will fall but the fruit will remain (I hope!)

Bumble bee in sage

The bees are all happy with the sunny weather although the activity starts later in the day.  I had been a bit disappointed in this sage “Hot Lips” (Salvia microphylla) in the summer time, I had not realised it would perform here better in the autumn than in the summer.

The honey bees too are very active and still bringing in lots of pollen.  They have been treated to control the varroa and they all have a full hive of honey to go into winter.  Even the divisions we made earlier in the year have full frames while last year three of the hives needed partitions.

The bees may be ready for winter but there is a lot of work still in the garden.


We need rain


Our region has had water restrictions imposed for agriculture use to protect water table levels.  There are still no restrictions on domestic use for gardens or washing cars.  I’ve planted my broad beans anyway.  I have been protecting unused parts of the vegetable garden with cardboard and I hope to put compost on top of it in the winter.

Mouse nest.JPG

That means mousie has been turfed out of his house.  It looks pretty comfortable if you could imagine it with a cardboard roof.


Still the mouse did not do so much damage as the moles did in my saffron patch.  Last year I thinned out the bulbs and planted them in straight rows and then sowed Phacelia in between the rows.  All that went well and I covered the patch with cardboard after the Phacelia flowers had finished.  That really kept down the weeds down until now when the saffron is popping through…but not in straight lines.


I rushed out and took a photograph of the first saffron flower of the season.  I think the soil is dry for them this year.


On the topic of food, we have had a good bowlful of walnuts from the tree we planted about fifteen years ago.  You need to be patient if you want your own walnuts.


I have found a two tone Cosmos sulphureus.  It is half between my yellow ones and orange ones.  I have kept the seeds.  You never know…  It will be fun to try them next year.


Meantime the bees are indifferent to the colour of the Cosmos.


There are a lot going to seed now but I find the seed heads attractive too.  I have not seen the birds going for the seeds but I presume they must.


The Salvia uliginosa attracts both the bumble bees and honey bees at the moment.

Dark Salvia.JPG

I like to watch the honey bees on my tall dark Salvia.  The flower looks too long for them but they must just fit in as they disappear completely inside for some time before entering the next flowerlet.


It has been too hot for my Madame Isaac Pereire rose this year but I am glad she has not lost her attraction for the bumble bees who go deep inside to buzz in satisfaction.

Girona tree.JPG

I have a problem and was unsure if I should broach it but I took courage and ran outside and took a photograph of it.

Kourosh is an inveterate seed collector.  I have banned him collecting any more tree seeds because once you have a tree it is difficult to part with it.  The problem is we have a tree but we have no idea what it is.


This is a close up of the leaf.


This is a photograph taken of the tree in flower in Girona, Spain in May 2015 during their flower festival.


The previous year’s fruit was still on the trees.  I was sure it would be easy to find the identity of these beautiful, sweet perfumed trees once we returned home.  I would like to know if it had a chance to survive here and of course I would be so grateful if anyone recognised it.


New bee plants in the garden

Last March we bought some plants for the garden from a beekeeper, Jacky Borie, in the Dordogne who also sells a variety of trees and plants known for their production of nectar and honey.  At this time I had not realised the difference from buying your plants from a sure source like this or buying one from a nursery nicely marked with a label showing a bee or butterfly.  The difference, I found out later, is that the nursery plant could quite well have been treated with neonicotinamide pesticides despite its pretty label.  Professor Dave Goulson appealed for funds and surpassed his target to enable an attempt to see how pollinator friendly plants are treated.  For a better explanation see


I shall start with a partial success with the Lycium barbarum, partial, as the poor plants caught mildew.  Nevertheless, they survived which is more than most of ours and our neighbours tomatoes did.  No Goji berries despite the bees intervention but it is early days yet as these are just little plants.


All the plants I received did very well and the Baccharis, in the middle of the picture, has shot up and is in flower at the moment.  I am wondering if it could be Baccharis dracunculifolia, but I have no species name.


It is an evergreen and should reach 2-3 metres tall, which sounds good to me but so far the bees have passed it by.  The insignificant white flowers that are open at the moment are not attracting the notice of any bees or other pollinators.


This is my Le Leonure which is reputed to make very good honey.  My three plants have had a vigorous start and I will try to group them together for next year but I’ll have to be quick about it as the shoots are lost in winter, to regrow from the base.  Here I am even lost for a genus name but perhaps things will become clearer next year.


I think the most successful has been the Elsholtzia stauntonii (full Latin name!).  They shot up, one in the shade and one in the hot afternoon sun.


I even have seen bees on the flowers which last for a long time.


I did buy three but the third one was little and quickly succumbed.  However, I was delighted to see a new shoot appear from the base and I have been carefully watering it until I notice today that it has a little pink (?) flower at its summit.  On closer inspection the leaves do not match and it looks quite possible that I have been nurturing a weed for the past few months.

I have been pleased with my purchases and I am already perusing his catalogue to order another batch of his young plants which are a very reasonable price.


I am also pleased that my,  Physostegia virginiana, or Obedient plant attracts the bees.


In fact, they disappear completely inside them for several seconds.

The name Obedient plant struck me as odd until Sue at Back Yard Biology explained that you can manually twist the flower head and it will stay in its new position!  I rushed straight out to see if it did and it works.  I like the idea of a poseable plant.  The young flower heads are malleable and will stay in place but the old heads that are heavy and going to seed are passed it to play with.