a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

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.


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.

41 thoughts on “We need rain

  1. Mystery plant looks like it might be Melia azedarach?
    You may want to google it to be sure.


    • Thank you so much, it is exactly that. The only difference is that these trees must have been very old and exceptional because they were very tall, it was difficult to get a photograph of their flowers. The perfume caught our attention, though. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, I think your mystery tree is a Persian lilac (Melia azedarach.) It’s a beautiful tree.


    • I am very pleased to have found out its identity. It is a Mediterranean tree and we have some severe winters here that it would not like. We will have to find it a sunny spot and hope for mild winters until it gets established. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like the deserted mouse house. Great picture.


    • I knew they were there over the summer because when I walked over the cardboard towards the tomatoes there would be a scurry and a mouse or two would rush out and hide under the safety of the mint. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • Did the mouse build the house? I can hardly believe it – didn’t know they were that sophisticated.

        Saffron looks beautiful. Funny how you sow in straight lines but the seeds seem to migrate. I’ve had that particularly with coriander and carrots this year.


        • I think the nest is a fairly typical country mouse retreat. Interior decoration depends on local supplies. This one has favoured a recycling theme using cardboard which is very trendy.
          I think the saffron does seed but mainly it produces little bulbs in clumps that I have broken up and moved on. I do agree seeds move, perhaps it is the rain or the hose sluicing them through the ground.


  4. Great post. Where did you buy your saffron crocus? (I live in France too)


    • I planted my Saffron in September of 2008. We had been in the Limousin and visited a very small Saffron producer. He was very kind and gave me six bulbs when he saw I was so interested in them. He dug up his bulbs every year but I leave mine in the ground here. They have continued to grow and multiply and I suppose they must give me the best return in terms of monetary value than anything else I grow. Amelia


  5. Hi Amelia, I love Salvia uliginosa. I grow it in my tropical border where, with loads of feeding and water, it grows too tall (above six feet) and flops over – even though I stake it. I shall remove it next year and treat it mean elsewhere, I think. How do you grow yours? D


  6. I also think it is a Melia. The scent really is delicious when flowering. I have no idea if the fruit are edible though… maybe for the birds? Hope you get some rain soon!


  7. Yes, hope you get some rain soon. The bumblebees seem to be doing well in your garden, there are very few about here now.


  8. Those saffron flowers are amazing, so vibrant.


  9. The tree is a syringa/seringa and comes from south America. The flowers smell gorgeous but its banned in south Africa as it grows like a weed and displaces indigenous flora. It gets fruit after the flowers which the birds love and they then spread the seeds.
    PS I LOVE your posts and wait eagerly to read them. We live in Creuse half way between Bourganeuf and Royere De vassiviere. Our area is colder and wetter than yours I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m beginning to think we are the only ones who had never seen this tree!
      We have seen some of the Limousin and stayed around St. Pardoux for a few days. It reminded me of Scotland in places (we did not go in the summer). It seems a greatplace for walking. I think you will get cooler winters than us usually.


  10. We have hose pipe bans in summer quite often and all our water is metered so we pay for what we use. My garden survives mostly on what falls from the sky.


    • Our water is metered too and ecologically is best to use only rainfall in the garden. However, if you are growing vegetables or have put in young plants it gets very difficult without rain. I try to grow only plants tolerant to dry conditions here but even those suffered this year. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Your tree is a Melia azedarach as Kalamaon says. It is a very fast growing tree. I’ve posted about mine a couple of times so if you do a search you’ll be able to find out more.


  12. The berries and leaves are a natural insecticide, the tree is closely related to the Indian tree that produces neem.


  13. It is a lovely tree, and I wish I could help you. I don’t know it.


  14. The internet and blogs can be a wonderful source of information.


  15. Melia azederach is used commonly as a street tree in Australia, most probably because it’s viewed as a “native” and it’s deciduous. The seeds are toxic to all but possums, so our paths are covered in melia seeds and possum poo for much of the year. For this reason I find it hard to love but I suspect I’d feel differently in another country! Same with ivy. And pampas grass. Weeds here! I also need to bin the melia seeds because they germinate very very easily…


    • That is a very interesting comment about the Melia and interesting it germinates so easily. Weeds are very subjective. I pull out any Ivy I see in the garden but I love it outside as it flowers are so important for the bees. Pampas grass? Well, I think that should have stayed on the Pampas. Amelia


      • My appreciation for ivy grew in England when I saw how many bees were appreciating it, but I still worried enormously about it being let grow up magnificent trees. I suspect it wouldn’t flower as well in such deep shade either. I think the weed thing has strong cultural elements as well…


        • From my experience of Ivy, it seems to need to climb up to light before it gets strong and flower. Over here it grows right up huge trees but they are in the wild. I don’t like the idea of ivy completely covering a tree but the strong seem to survive.


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