a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

After the rain


These past few days we have had rain.  I’m happy, the garden is happy.

The garden smells so good too.  As I watch the bees on the Veilchenblau rose, I can smell an incredible mix of the rose, honeysuckle, Philadelphus and warm leaves.

The rain has been in such short supply this year that the flowers don’t mind getting wet and the poppy bends its top petals over its precious supply of pollen.

The bees are happy too and strip off the pollen before the petals have time to dry.

The warm weather tempted my peony Festiva Maxima to bloom for the first time.  It was a present from our daughter which we planted in 2008 but was in completely the wrong place, and there it remained until last year when I decided to move it (by this time I felt I had little to lose although I heard you could not move peonies.)

Five days later the petals were falling but it still looked beautiful like some ageing diva.

I believe this is Rigolotte, which was part of the same present and looking much happier in a sunny position.

Another first today was spotting a bee on the Erigeron.  The Erigeron self seeds in the cracks of the paths and at the base of the house walls but usually it does not attract the bees.

Nigella and Eschscholzia have self sown beside the patio, a bit gaudy but better than weeds.

The Eschscholzia is not as popular as the other poppies with the bees but it does provide them with a pretty colour of pollen.

I have been searching for my bee orchid that has been coming up every year in the front garden and was sad to find no trace of it, despite there having been two plants which produced seed.  But instead a new one has appeared in the back garden and has chosen to place itself beside the water tap, pushing its way through self seeded Centranthus.

Finally, I think the bees have been doing a bit of genetic engineering.  Above is my blue Cerinthe that has happily self seeded in the garden for many years.  It is beloved by the bumble bees and the Anthophora (the bee in the picture).

Today I found a Cerinthe with red flowers!  So I do not know what the bees were doing to the pollen that went on to produce this plant.  Maybe a little extra U.V. light onto the pollen, or an extra squeeze or nibble, surely not a virus?

I had to rescue it from a fair few encroaching heavy weeds and I will continue with the TLC to see what happens.

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 rain

  1. Love the photo of the bee in flight and you are very lucky to have a bee orchid too!


  2. Moving peonies won’t hurt them at all but you do have to make certain that they are replanted at the correct depth. Too deep and they won’t bloom. Also sometimes moving them sets them back so they won’t bloom for a year or two. It looks like you were very lucky.


  3. Looks so lovely Is that mint growing near the peony? The red flowered Cerinthe is intriguing!


    • That is indeed our wild or weed mint. I have to haul it out the borders but I love it in the grass. The grass here has the wild mint running through it and it smells divine. Amelia


      • Hmmm…..am I brave enough to let my mint into the grass? Sounds divine. I used to have chamomile running through parts of the lawn. It died out after a couple of years but I loved that.


  4. I’m glad you appreciate the rain. I try but got very grumpy yesterday at how cold and wet for May it is here. The peony is magnificent.


    • The lack of rain this year has concerned me as I have put in quite a few new trees and shrubs. While they are all drought tolerant they do need water in their first year. We are not allowed to water until after seven in the evening because of the shortage which is difficult. So I was in high spirits when it rained but it has been warm and sunny too which makes a difference. Amelia


  5. I am overwhelmed – so many beauties, it’s impossible to pick one. But, being like the peony, an ageing diva ( 😉) … perhaps I’ll plump for her!


  6. I love that photo of the orange poppies and the bee! A red Cerinthe is quite a novelty – the leaves look paler too. We have also had a little rain, but not really enough as the forecast is sunny and dry for the next two weeks. Lovely gardening weather though!


  7. Lovely to see the red Cerinthe …. very different.
    Been catching up… condolences to you an Kourosh over the loss of the hive…


  8. You have a happy garden and happy bees. What could be more delightful!


  9. Hello Amelia,
    Rain is a wonderful experience after prolonged drought – lovely photos as always and I think your Paeony and red Cerinthe are fabulous…it will be fascinating to see if you’ve got a new Cerinthe variant…
    best wishes


  10. You must try to save seed of the Red Cerinthe it’s lovely…. And rain wow didn’t it. Things have really changed since. Your garden must be bursting now.. Sue..


  11. The red cerinthe is indeed intriguing, I can report that the seed you kindly sent me has produced some nice plants here in Devon, all so far wth blue flowers and very popular with the bees.


  12. The white peony reminds me of an ice cream!


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