a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Planting bulbs the hard way



This pot has lain since May of 2014 just to satisfy my curiosity.  I had noticed daffodils appearing in the garden where I thought they had not been planted but at the same time I doubted whether they would self-seed.

Bee approaches daffodil.jpg

I have read that bees are not attracted to daffodils but that will depend on the bees, the availability of other flowers and of course the variety of daffodil.


These pictures were taken in March of 2013, before we started keeping honey bees so I cannot answer for their tastes in nectar or pollen.

Daff seeds 24.5.2014 1.JPG

I do find that some of the daffodils go to seed so in May of 2014 I decided to plant some of the seeds.


In addition, the bumble bees are attracted to the tulips although some of them make very inelegant exits from inside the tulips, like this red tailed queen bumble bee.  So I also had seeds of a pretty pink tulip to sow with the daffodils.

Fritillary seed head 24.5.14 (2).JPG

Just to make up a threesome, I had noticed that the snakeskin fritillaria (Fritillaria meleagris) had masses of seeds so their seeds went in the pot too.

The fritillaria had been sown for the first time in the autumn of 2013 and flowered abundantly the following spring.  That was the last time I saw them.  I am not sure whether our hot, dry summers killed off the young plants or whether I had not loved them enough while they were flowering.


The seeds in my pot from 2014 had produced green leaves last year but I felt they would need to be planted out this year.  So with a heave I upturned the pot to see what was happening.


You must have faith in me here, as the photo is not clear, but there were masses of fritillaria bulblets (top left), six long, thin but very well rooted tulip bulbs (eight seeds had been planted originally) and lots of little daffodil bulblets.

I don’t like planting bulbs but here I was now with lots of little fritillaria bulblets (that I am not particularly keen on) but now I feel totally obliged to give them at least a chance to grow in with the little daffodil bulbs in a patch at the bottom of the garden.

The six pink tulip bulbs have received a preferential treatment and been replaced with new soil in the pot.

So why do I do it?  Just to be sure?  It is so much easier to pick up a bag of bulbs all ready to go.







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 “Planting bulbs the hard way

  1. Instinct – if we see seeds, we feel we have to grow them, that why I have 48 Larkspur plants in modules (that they have already out-grown) in the greenhouse when I doubt I need half that many. Plus all those that may survive the winter in the ground! I would live to have fritillaria but they don’t like my soil or the heat.


  2. I do this kind of experimental gardening partly out of curiosity – to see what happens if…. – and partly out of gratitude. I feel that nature provides us with so much, the least I can do is co-operate. It’s fascinating to see where this can lead… we have seedlings popping up all over the place at the moment, mostly herbs, but also some flowers that, I presume, were gifted to us by the birds or else lay dormant in compost. It’s amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The waiting will build the suspense, and there might be a nice surprise when it’s over.


  4. I’m totally with you, if something catches on, one just has to plant it, whether we like it or not.


    • Now the garden is getting maturer I find I am trying to squeeze more offspring in the garden and also potting them up for friends. I have been breaking up clumps of primroses today and replanting, but at this rate I can see the garden becoming a mono-culture of primroses in a few years :). Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the unusual pattern and shape of the fritallarias so hope you are successful with them.


    • Christina has mentioned she has problems with them too so it looks like it is too hot and dry for them in the summer. I don’t mind as there are lots of other flowers at that time of year. Amelia


  6. At least in the UK fritillaries seem to like damp but well managed conditions like water meadows.


  7. Easier to pick up a pack of bulbs, but so much more fun to grow your own from seed.


  8. Self seeded is always more fun- be patient and tell us what flowers in a few years time. Good luck!


  9. How wonderful and interesting to produce bulbs from seeds!


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