a french garden

Rain and thunderstorms

32 Comments

It was so good to get all the windows open on the first cool morning after the heatwave and to feel a cool breeze blow through the house.  However, that was not all that came in the window.  I would have thought that the swallows would have chosen their nesting places and not still be looking over our living room as a potential new home.

It has been so hot and dry that I was concerned a lot of the plants would suffer.  The grass has dried up but we have left patches of cat’s ears for the bees.  The willows (Salix alba “Chermesina”) in the middle of the picture provide a good screen for our sitting area and have kept green.  On the right the Chitalpa has started flowering as has the Magnolia on the left of the willows.

The Chitalpa is a cross between the Catalpa bignonioides (Indian bean tree) and Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow).  It does well in the sun in this exposed position which does not get watered.  My disappointment is that the flowers are not as visited by the bees as the Catalpa flowers but I prefer my Chitalpa as the Catalpa would grow too big for this spot.

The Magnolia grandiflora does not seem to mind the heat and the lack of water.  It is growing big now and the flowers are often high up but the perfume still floats down.

We do water the vegetables and that has been a nightly task.

The Borlotti beans have started to give pods and they will hopefully continue through the summer.

There is no lack of pollinators for the courgettes and we have already had so many that we will probably have to remove some of the plants to avoid a glut.

We water the flowers in the front garden and the Agapanthes are in flower just now.

Everything looks happier after several days of really good rain.

The first field of Sunflowers opened near us four days ago.

The flowers had already been spotted by the bees and we wondered if our bees had found them too.

A shot of the bees at the mouth of the hive confirms that the bees have been on the sunflowers as there are many bees covered with the tell-tale (tell-tail?) bright yellow pollen.

We are happy too and take great pleasure in leaving the windows open while we have a cup of tea and watch the rain pour down.

What funny creatures gardeners are!

 

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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.

32 thoughts on “Rain and thunderstorms

  1. I think of all the crops I’ve seen, sunflowers fields have to be the most striking. Nice post and hope the swallows opt for some other nesting site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The fields of sunflowers are bright and have a happy feel, there are also lots of fields of golden barley (just been harvested) but although they have a tranquil beauty with the breeze flowing through them in waves – they do not have the same zing. Amelia

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  2. We had rain today too; what a relief! I also saw my first field of sunflowers this year so crops are behaving in a similar way here to yours in France

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  3. Chitalpas are really nice, both of the parents are US plants. I had a Catalpa in San Diego with beautiful flowers. The magnolia, also a US plant, is native to the southern states but is amazingly adaptable. There are very big ones in San Diego, which is quite dry, and also in Portland Oregon, which is very wet. It becomes huge (yuge) but is so magnificant, and those massive scented flowers are in a class of their own. I am in the Vaucluse, and we ate our first courgette from the garden yesterday, and have had cherry tomatoes (not many) for a couple of weeks. Fab!
    bonnie

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    • I read a book by Andrea Wulf called The Brother Gardeners and it tells of the plants brought over from the U.S.A. to England which were so rare and precious at the time. We owe a lot of beautiful plants to the U.S.A. My cherry tomatoes are still green – lucky you! Amelia

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  4. We had some welcome rain too. Lovely.
    Chitalpa is new to me, what gorgeous flowers. And the sunflowers make me wish I was in Provence.

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  5. A glut of courgettes: lucky you! Please beam some over to us here in New Cairo – ours have failed once again.

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  6. The sunflowers are stunning! Do they turn to face the sun as it moves through the sky?

    I attended a bee talk once at which we were told that sunflower pollen is a poor source of protein compared to other pollens.

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    • They follow the sun while they are growing during the day so you cannot always chose the point to take the photograph from so you must find a field with a good orientation and background for a photograph.
      I too had read that sunflower pollen does not have a high protein content. However, you would also have to consider the different cultivars of sunflower being grown (one year there was virtually no nectar) and how the protein quantity could vary. In addition, although pollen is the bees main source of protein it is likely they obtain more than just raw protein from the pollen. Thus saying, our bees seem to be bringing in mainly nectar. At this time of year there is plenty of pollen available from other flowers and we see them collecting different colours. Amelia

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      • I’m sure the bees will be fine with the sunflower pollen, think it’s only when they are surrounded by huge plantations of only one species (as in the Californian almond groves that the single pollen/nectar source leads to poor nutrition.

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        • They do indeed do better on a varied pollen diet. Especially the pollen from crop plants can vary by a magnitude of x4 or x5 depending on the cultivar and so are very irregular sources of pollen.

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  7. Glad you got rain too! More is on its way to us tomorrow and I will also be smiling as the garden needs it so desperately. Those sunflowers are a wonderful sight!

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  8. What a pleasure to listen to the rain, read your lovely post and watch the world expand!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The Chitalpa is interesting; I’ve never heard of it. The flowers look just like catalpa flowers.
    I love that field of sunflowers. I wish we had them here.

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  10. How I would love to have swallows trying to nest in my lounge… I’d probably let them, too! Glorious sunflowers. What a sight. 😍

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  11. Those borlotti! They are so beautiful in their painted glory

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  12. A lot of rain here too, much needed but it doees keep the bees inside. Borlotti bean pods are very pretty and I like the contents in minestrone soup. We get them from Riverford Organic for a few weeks, grown on their farm in the Vendee.

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  13. I appreciate your garden update. Rain can be very contemplative. And your bees…I love to see what they are doing there. Glad they have found the sunflowers. John

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  14. The field of sunflowers look wonderful, does the honey have a distinctive taste?

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    • Sunflower honey is a beautiful yellow colour too! It has a good flavour that I enjoy. It is not a liquid honey but not hard either and has a granular texture. Of course, I am describing ours which is not monofloral. This year perhaps it will be slightly different as the mix of flowers may be slightly different. That is the fun of honey. Amelia

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      • When I use to keep bees the farmers here had just started growing oil seed rape, the bees would collect it before anything else. It was terrible to extract, if you left it to long on the hive it would set in the comb. We use to blend it later in the year with our other honey.

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        • What we did this year in the spring was to put on supers with frames with no wax. The bees made their own wax and filled it with the rape seed nectar and other nectar. After the rape had finished we lifted the frames and had honeycomb which we love. It is easier than trying to extract it. We found the honeycomb was appreciated by our friends some of whom had never tried it before.

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