a french garden

November finishes in the garden and December begins

17 Comments

willow-tree

November has been mild, not always sunny but mild.  The large willow at the bottom of the garden is still holding onto its leaves.

salix-alba-chermesina

I am starting to get the benefit from changes I have made in earlier years.  This year the four Salix alba Chermesina (or Scarlet Willow) that I planted in January of 2014 are just how I had imagined them.  Unfortunately, they have been so vigorous that they are covering the Mahonia “Soft Caress” that I planted in front of them.  I had not paid sufficient attention to the flowering period of this Mahonia which is much earlier than I had expected, about the beginning of October in my garden.  This does not qualify it as winter flowering, so I must find it a better place.

mahonia

Another 2014 addition was the Mahonia “Charity” which has put good growth on now and has lots shoots filled with flowers and buds.

bumble-bee-on-charity-2

The Mahonia is a magnet for bumble bees and it sounds like summer when I work nearby.

img_7404

I have a large patch of Phacelia not too far from the Mahonia but it does not have the same pulling power at the moment and the bees do not stay on the flowers so long.

anisodontea-in-bud

The star of the garden at the moment is the Anisodontea “El Rayo” ( I think the full name must be Anisdontea capensis “El Rayo”).  It was given to me by our friend Michel who could not remember the name and I understood it (wrongly!) to be a variation on Hibiscus syriacus which was attractive to bees.  As I have a lot of these Hibiscus I did not give it pride of place and it has only started flowering this autumn.

anisodontea-el-rayo-and-bee

It is well appreciated by the bees who go for the nectar and the pollen.

leycesteria-formosa

It is not only the flowers that provide colour in the garden now.  The berries of the Leycesteria formosa are a pink/purple turning almost black when ripe.  I don’t see a lot of ripe berries so the birds must be helping themselves.

vanessa-atalanta

On the 27 November it was warm enough for a Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) to stretch her wings and warm up on the house wall.

Cosmos November

I had not pulled out the old Cosmos to leave the seeds for the birds and to self sow but new flowers have appeared on the dried up brown stalks.

cosmos-sulphureus

Underneath, a Cosmos sulphureus had already decided to go for it and not bother waiting for spring to germinate.

wild-violet

Even a wild violet that had strayed into the garden had decided to flower.

1-frost-violet

But December brought our first frosts and cold weather turning the violet into an iced decoration.

1-branch-anisodentea

My new Anisodentea was completely frosted.

1-single-anisodentea

It looked completely charming.

1-frosted-mahonia

As did my Mahonia “Charity” with its delicate ice spikes attached to the flowers.  I had no doubt which of these flowers would survive the frosts as Mahonia is a well known winter flowering shrub but I was wrong!

After three continuous nights of frost the older flowers on the Mahonia have given up and turned white but the Anisodontea looks virtually untouched.  Today the honey bees were back on the flowers and a queen Bombus terrestris was availing herself of the nectar.

I have no idea how long the Anisodontea will continue flowering but today the temperatures were rising again and the forecast is good for next week.

 

 

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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.

17 thoughts on “November finishes in the garden and December begins

  1. It’s great to see that you have plants in bloom and still have bees. I think our bees are gone for the season now that the temperatures are dropping below freezing during the nights.

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    • In Europe some of the bumble bee queens break their hibernation on warm sunny days during the winter but I suppose this cannot be possible in climates where it stays really cold throughout winter. I’, glad I see mine from time to time. Amelia

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  2. My first thought when I saw the Anisdontea capensis was “hibiscus.”
    The Leycesteria formosa berries are beautiful!

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  3. You have so many wonderful things going on in your garden at this time. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Looks fantastic – well done

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  5. Love the colour the Salix bring to the garden, it really doesn’t have to be flowers (except for your bees of course). Your weather sounds just like ours at the moment.

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  6. Beautiful! Oh, to have flowers in December that aren’t in a pot in the house.

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  7. Your blog is like a handbook guiding me what to do with our first-time garden. Everything is looking so beautiful still in your garden and makes me want to go outside and start gardening right now!

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    • Oh dear, it makes me nervous thinking of all the mistakes we have made. Still we did make the mistakes with great enthusiasm, so perhaps that’s the most important part of creating your own garden. Amelia

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  8. Here we have had some frosts but today is milder. I notice some mahonia in a neighbour’s garden struggling in to flower and at the weekend we went to a garden by the sea where the rosemary is blooming well and despite the blustery cold wind there were three bumblebee workers feeding.

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