a french garden

Return to the garden in March

48 Comments

After two weeks of holidays we were happy to see the garden again but it was at a slow, measured pace we gave the garden its customary “so good to see you” check over.  We have returned with a ‘flu the like of which we have not suffered from in many a year.

Even the dandelion clocks in the grass look good.

There is more red dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) than grass but that suits the Anthophora and bumble bees.  The Anthophora fly very quickly but look very similar to fluffy grey bumble bees – only there are no grey bumble bees (in France, anyway).

The Hyacinths where we sit at the front of the house smell delicious, overcoming our poor sense of smell at the moment and kindling the hope that soon all will return to normal.

We have missed the main pollen fest from the big willow (Salix caprea) at the bottom of the garden.

All kinds of bees are still visiting the tree.

There seems to be plenty to satisfy the needs of all comers.

The Hellebores have done well this year and are constantly visited by the bees.

In the vegetable garden the broad beans are doing well and are very attractive to all sorts of solitary bees.

I wish I could have stayed looking longer as I saw these two almost immediately.

Certainly the wild bees are wherever you look.

Our apricot trees are flowering and I am sure will be well pollinated but whether the weather will allow us to have apricots this year remains to be seen.  Temperatures of 21 degrees yesterday and 23 degrees today are warm for this time of year and we can have frosts up until May.

But the one thing that lifted our spirits was to find “our” Barbastelle bat was waiting for us on our return.  He had taken up his usual position behind our living room shutters.  He is only little, I would estimate about six centimetres from the back of his body to the tip of his head.  He has been visiting us annually for about four years now and we look forward to his visits, see “Many Happy Returns” for last year’s visit.

I find him very attractive and he does not seem to mind me taking photographs although I try to be as rapid as possible as it does disturb his beauty sleep.

 

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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.

48 thoughts on “Return to the garden in March

  1. Very nice, especially the Barbastelle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Spring is definitely underway for you. My potager is still looking bleak.

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  3. Things look lovely. How exciting to have a bat!

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  4. Great photos. The bat is magnificent !🦇

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hope the flu won’t be too severe. Nice to see all the flowers!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the garden report. Glad to see the bees are humming. Please get well!

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  7. Lovely to see flowers like hyacinth…. and bees 😊

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    • The hyacinth mostly started life inside and were given a second chance outside. They seem to go forth and multiply outside here and so over the years we have developed quite a patch. It creates a very perfumed sitting area and attracts all the pollinators. Amelia

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      • That sounds lovely. I have developed a new piece of ground for planting and am now turning to what I might put in it (next to the kitchen door. Perfumed hyacinths could be one such, especially as it is a sheltered, sunny spot.

        I can imagine your hyacinth would multiply. I have Spanish bluebells, whose procreational capacity is beyond belief 😉.

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  8. Hope you are feeling better soon. It’s amazing to realize how tiny your bat visitor is.

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  9. You seem to be well ahead of us, no blossom much here and we only saw the first insects in the last couple of days. Hope you are better soon, we returned from the UK in January with terrible flu so you have our sympathies, Diane

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  10. A wonderful walk around your garden, loving all the bees and especially your bat. My apricot has just started to flower so I’m hoping that we don’t have anymore frosts, the fleece is ready… Sue

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  11. Lovely to see your garden alive with insects. What a cute bat. I hope you feel better soon.

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  12. So wonderful to see all those blooms and bees. Your little bat visitor is so beautiful, too. Hope you’re back in good health soon to be out enjoying spring!

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  13. Lovely to see the flowers, I can almost smell the hyacinth (we can’t grow them in Egypt, to my knowledge) and the spring blossom. Enjoy the beautiful garden, nature, and the many visitors to the flowers, and hope you recover soon!

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  14. Your bat is so sweet! I haven’t seen any signs if ours yet. You are a lot further on than us in fact, with blossom already. Hope it stays mild so you get lots of apricots. Do you make jam? Get well wishes to you both!

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    • Thank you. We don’t get apricots every year because of frosts but when we do get them they are excellent eating apricots and I prefer to hand them out to friends rather than make them into jam. I find we have too much fruit for jam for the two of us. My complaint about storing fruit is that you have to use sugar. We are too humid here to dry it and I don’t find drying in the oven either cost or environmentally friendly. Good excuse to gorge on fruit in the summer, though :). Amelia

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  15. I had the flu in October and it was the worst I’ve ever suffered in all my life, I hope you feel better soon, don’t over do things, take care of yourselves.

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  16. If you haven’t already done so you must start on lemon and your honey drink to help fight the flue.

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    • Our friend Michel quickly put us on his own Propomiel. He makes this with his own bees’ propolis and honey. We have been taking a small spoonful three times a day. Propolis is reputed to have many antimicrobial and medicinal properties.

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  17. Hope you both feel better soon. Lovely to see all the wildlife in your garden, do you think the first solitary bee might be A. flavipes?

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    • I’ve got the wing pattern on a different photograph that agrees with Andrena and from his form and spring appearance, I would agree with A. flavipes male as the most likely ID. There could be other similar species here so that is as far as we can go. Are you going to try and refine your solitary bee knowledge? I have books but I have never had the opportunity to go on a course and talk to real people. Amelia

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      • The A.flavipes here came out a few days ago and your picture looks very like the Totnes A. flavipes males but I realise that in France there may be other species to take into account. Steven Falk is doing a course near here in July and I have booked to go on it to expand my knowledge, should be interesting, I will report back in the summer.

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  18. Such beautiful photos! Nice to see the garden waking up!

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  19. Your barbastelle bat is too cute! I hope you both feel better soon and feel warmed by the garden coming to life again 🙂

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    • We have been so lucky with the weather and garden for convalescing. It is teaching me to sit and stare. I usually don’t manage long before I’m attacking a hapless weed, but at the moment I just sit and admire them. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

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