a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

The heat goes on


I took this photograph from underneath our lime tree (Tilia cordata).  There cannot be a better place to be on a hot June day.  It is too hot to sit under a parasol but the branches of the tree stop the heat of the sun and the air is full of the perfume of the flowers.  If you want to grow a tree to give shade in the summer then I cannot think of a better choice.

This carder bumble bee would be the first to agree.  The lime tree provides nectar and pollen for the honey bees as well as other bees.

The olive tree is drawing in all the bees at the moment, too.

The main feature at the moment in the garden are still the poppies.

A lot are setting seed now and I go around putting bag ties on the plants with the colours that I like most so that I can have a good variety next year.

The Fallgold rasberries are producing well and are very sweet.  They taste too good to cook with.

The blackcurrants are ripening and will probably be prepared for making sorbet later in the year.

This year has been a bumper year for cherries here (but not in our garden)We have fortunately very generous friends and have not missed out on the cherry bounty.  Last Sunday we picked sour cherries which have made compote, jam and sorbet for us (we picked more than that basket!)

The borlotti beans are managing to hold their own against the poppies and large mullein (this is a type of Verbascum, I think thapsus).

I’ve let this plant seed around the garden because it is so attractive to the bees.  It is also reputed to be a medicinal plant but I have not tried it myself.

The vegetable garden has had extra stakes added for the tomatoes we have been given and could not bear to waste.  If it is a good year there will be plenty to make into puree.

Yesterday I saw that the sweet chestnut trees were flowering nearby and filling the air with their overpowering perfume.  It struck me that this year I seem to have been running to keep up with the seasons and when I checked with my blog mentioning the sweet chestnuts last year it was the beginning of July (The bees and Sweet Chestnuts).

The little pineapple shaped buds in the photograph are the female flowers of the sweet chestnut.  Sweet chestnut is often wind pollinated, for although it produces both male and female flowers on the same tree, flowers are successfully pollinated by the pollen from another tree.  I found it fascinating when I discovered that the nectaries producing the nectar that attracts pollinators are at the base of the male flowers which are held on the long catkins.  Bees and other pollinators can be useful to increase pollination when the pollen becomes damp in humid conditions as the grains become sticky and less easily carried by the wind.

There were a lot of galls on the chestnuts this year.  I picked one of the tree and found a tiny black insect inside.  It looks like the gall could be the oriental chestnut gall (Dryocosmus kuriphilus).  This is another exotic pest which first hit France in 2007.

Kourosh had put up a nest box under the carport this year, it can just be seen vaguely at the top left hand side of the photograph.  It was a brand new Christmas present and we were delighted that a pair of Redstarts (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) inaugurated it.  This is the male and both male and female birds feed the young.

Kourosh could not resist taking a quick shot of the young birds just before they left the nest.  It was lovely to watch the parents flying to and from the nest but we did not see much of the babies.  It was all over so quickly but we can still hear them in the nearby bushes.

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.

25 thoughts on “The heat goes on

  1. Paradise despite the heat? That redstart is a stunning bird!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heavenly! We have limes aplenty here in the heart of Grenoble and their scent absolutely knocks one sideways when crossing le Jardin de Ville or one of the many other little green areas. Those little almost fledglings are adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a lovely post Amelia, I can feel the heat and smell the blossoms… Sue

    Liked by 1 person

    • The heat does bring all the garden perfumes out. The heat has been keeping me from working in the garden. When it goes over 30 degrees the best idea is to escape to the beach. Amelia


  4. Stunning…hope you get a break in the evening!


    • It does get cooler in the evening once the sun goes down. I have been needing to do some watering too, but that has to be done after 7 o’clock in the evening because of the water shortage this year. Amelia


  5. Wonderful post, full of great photos. My neighbours all collect their mullein flowers to make a cough medicine for the winter. Unfortunately I am allergic to my neighbour’s sweet chestnut tree which is just about to flower by the length of the flowers, but I love the scent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mullein is an interesting plant, it is interesting that someone you know uses the cough medicine – it must work. I have a lot of sympathy for pollen allergies – there is not a lot you can do to avoid them. I do not think you would do very well around here at the moment. Amelia


  6. Gorgeous bird photos. It makes me happy to see nature thriving in your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In this area galls on plants don’t usually harm them, even though most all of them contain insects.


    • The chestnut galls will not kill the chestnut trees on their own but the sweet chestnuts in France are an important cash crop (marron glacé are very popular) for the economy as are walnuts. The trees infected with the galls produce considerably less fruit. The adult insects lay their eggs in the budding parts of the tree at the beginning of the summer. It hit the U.S.A in the southern parts in 1975, that is before it hit France. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We use to live in a cottage surrounded by parkland planted with lime trees, it was wonderful when they were in flower to here the bees working it. The honey was good to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The lime tree honey is my favourite honey! You have to have a lot of lime trees, like you are describing, before you can get the honey. Also I think you have to know when to harvest it, before the main harvest, to get a monofloral. Amelia


  9. How wonderful to have a Lime tree; it is one of my husbands favourite perfumes, he winds down the window of the car if we pass the trees when they are in flower. I wanted to plant one here but then I read they don’t like windy positions and as there is nowhere really sheltered I decided against planting on, I regret the decision now as I’m sure it would have been OK. Your huge basket of cherries is bounty indeed; lucky you to have friends with so many to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The redstart is so beautiful. I have never seen one, although they are about. A couple of months ago I got a shock when a black redstart landed in full view of our kitchen window. I was transfixed.


  11. The baby redstarts remind me of the robin family that visits our garden. I’ve become addicted to watching the different birds in our garden. The photo of the carder bee on lime is just beautiful – I am so inspired by your garden and expect my husband would love a cherry tree, unfortunately I’m allergic! Your garden is a paradise Amelia!


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