a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

After the break all is quiet in the garden



We have just returned from U.K. after spending Christmas with the family.  On arriving, the first thing I do is check out the garden.  I like to see what the plants have been up to while we have been away.  The period between mid December and mid January must be the least active of the year.  So the short version of my inspection is – not a lot to report. I had hopes for my Hellebores but only one of the plants is pushing through buds.


Some crocus are appearing but it is still too early for much activity on my bulb front.


The old stalwarts like the Sarcococca confusa and the…


primroses are doing their best.


Of course, it is not only the plants that we check on because the bee hives receive the first visit.


It was only nine degrees but the sunshine had tempted all the bees to stretch their legs and some even some to stretch their wings.


The light varnish on the “au vent” or sunshade of Violette’s hive is peeling.  I will have to think of a way to clean it up soon.


The temperature was only ten degrees when I noticed the bees on the Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica).  It is not far away from the hives but I was surprised they would venture out for the nectar and this bee has also taken the time to gather some pollen.  It is a wonderful tree because even at such a low temperature I could smell the perfume when I was close to the flowers.


The winter honeysuckle is about the same distance for the hives but was receiving less visits.


The heather is further away but these girls are hardy and it is nice to see them taking advantage of the winter flowers.


The Viburnum tinus is holding onto its buds to open up when the weather is warmer.  According to our weather forecast that will not be anytime soon as a cold front is coming in from the north of Europe.  I hope 2017 will be a good year for everyone and, of course, for the bees too.


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.

26 thoughts on “After the break all is quiet in the garden

  1. Happy New Year, A and K,
    Glad that the garden and bees are looking in fine fettle, and the skies are still wonderfully blue with you, And all that early beee activity is a treat. far too cold for that here just now.
    best wishes


  2. Sarcococca confusa is a wonderful plant to have, ours is by the front door, but it hasn’t started flowering yet. Happy new year to you both and the bees.


  3. Happy bees, let’s hope for that. Winter honeysuckle is a plant I need to try to add to my garden


  4. The pollen will be very precious to your winter bees. They are lucky to live in your lovely garden.


  5. Lovely to see your flowers! My garden is buried deep under snow – roll on spring!


  6. Similar temperatures here and I have seen quite a few honeybees on a pink blossom tree (probably prunus).


    • We get similar winter temperatures to parts of the south coast of the U.K. My sister has a Viburnum bodnantense, which I covet, and which is in flower at the moment in the U.K. I wonder if could it be that? I have never had one and I did not know that the bees liked them. Amelia


  7. Love the Sarcococca, I must try it again. Love the perfume.


  8. I’m glad to see your bees have flourished over the cold time. More to come, but I’m sure you are encouraged. Interesting that I can take photos of my garden and see the same part of the cycle for hellebores and many bulbs.
    Have a grand 2017.


    • Our winter temperatures are not too different from the milder parts of the U.K. and the plants do follow a similar cycle. This is the time of year when gardeners do start to become impatient for no good reason. For instance, I’ve already bought and collected more seeds than I had intended. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, let’s hope 2017 is a good year for the bees!

    I’ve just seen on the weather that the continent is due for some frosty weather over the next few days. I hope that won’t affect the bees adversely.


  10. It will be a while before we see any of that happening here, but at least we’re having a January thaw.
    I hope the bees have a better time of it this year.


    • They had a pretty good year with the one exception of the invasive Asian hornet. We have already decided this year to muzzle the fronts of their hives once the attacks begin and not to “wait see” as we did last year. The muzzles obstruct the bees but we think they are a necessary evil. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello, and Happy new year…. despite being January you still have quite a few flowers, I suppose that is by design really, and your bees will be appreciative.


  12. So lovely to have all that LIFE in your garden this time of year. And such a garden, even at this time of the year! 🙂


    • Since mid-January the temperatures have turned colder and we have had overnight temperatures going down as low as minus eight. The garden and the bees are surviving well but it has been a bit of a shock for me! We have had milder winters recently and I am so surprised at how quickly I got used to them. Amelia


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s