a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

The heat goes on


The Chitalpa is still flowering and despite the heat and lack of rain the trees are bearing up.

I actually saw a bee venture into one of the Catalpa flowers but they are not really bee friendly flowers.

The Oregano has taken over a much too large part of the vegetable garden but I am in no mood to tame it, especially as its flowers attract the bees.  The garden has been neglected lately as the afternoon is my preferred time to wander around and work in the garden but most days it is too hot for me for the sun here is very strong.

The Oregano attracts butterflies as well.  I think this is a Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) but not so scarce here as the name might suggest.

I could not resist another shot of her fine tails.

The butterflies are not put off by the heat and there are Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui)  in the garden, this one here taking nectar from the lavender.

I’ve noticed more Skippers (this one probably Ochlodes sylvanus) which makes me think the butterflies are doing better than the bees this year.

You may find this caterpillar cute, it always reminds me of a “Push me pull me” from Doctor Doolittle as it is hard to know which end is which (the black pair of tufts on the RHS are at the front!).  It is a Vapourer Moth caterpillar and was not welcome on our Lagerstroemia.  It was carefully removed (the hairs can cause skin irritations) and placed where any damage it can cause would not be noticeable.

In the evening I used to see more Tetralonia bees in the Lavatera flowers, like this one settling down for the night.  Sometimes three or four would share the same flower – either a Lavatera or Hollyhock.  My Hollyhocks have not done well this year.  They do not get watered or receive special treatment and yet they are usually stars at this time of the year but this year they have been smaller and several sorry specimens have had to be cut down.

The Dasypoda with their huge bundles of pollen have been in the Cats’ears at the bottom of the garden but not with the same vigour.

It does look like it is going to be a bumper year for tomatoes this year and we have already had to reduce our four courgette plants to two.

So, walks are best taken in the evening, when there are no bees to be seen but being entertained by the hares that are leaping around at the moment.

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.

29 thoughts on “The heat goes on

  1. My courgette plants haven’t started producing yet but I shall soon share your pain. I can almost feel that heat there – it is similar in Sussex: lovely for sitting with a glass of something cold, less so for mowing or, as I did today, have a bonfire. Beautiful photos, Amelia. Dave.


    • Thanks, this year the heat is beating my camera and me back into the house. It is so strange closing the curtains and staying inside when it is beautiful and sunny outside. Amelia


  2. Lovely photos – love the hare and the Swallowtail! It is too hot to work outside for long here too. Do you have a Chitalpa and/or a Catalpa… are they different trees? I saw what I think were one of each at the Himalaya garden I visited recently, but am completely new to this tree. In any case the flowers are beautiful.


  3. It’s been on the hot side here too, but we’ve had rain each week.
    Beautiful shots of the insects!


  4. The hare has it for me 🙂


  5. entering a record period of drought here in Western Washington USA. So far we are still fairly green, (not the lawns) but watering veggie areas with caution. Everything is late, but catching up. Lovely sunsets, and even Northern lights a few days ago!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I suppose you must be as North as Aberdeen just on the wrong side (:)) of the Atlantic. The Northern Lights are such a spectacle. We just have to be content with the glow worms. Amelia


  6. And—– just returned from a stay on my sister’s North Yorkshire Wolds farm. Went for a long, long walk and a hare lead me all the way—-almost felt like Alice, but it was a hare and not a rabbit. They are entertaining to watch, so long as they don’t eat too much of the farm crops!


  7. Goodness me, it is warm and dry this year, isn’t it! Like you, I find it uncomfortable to work outside with the sun blaring down.

    I’m surprise you don’t see bees in the evening. That said, I was surprised to see one at dusk last night. They do tend to forage at all hours and in the rain here, though.


    • You are right, the honey bees are out late at night here and we still see them on the sunflowers when we are out walking. Usually, when I think of bees, I discount honey bees because they are domesticated bees. I should have been clearer because I meant the wild bees that are usually solitary or nearly so like the bumbles. I don’t know if it is because I cannot get out as much in the sunshine because of the heat or because the flowers may be producing less nectar because of the heat and drought. Amelia


  8. Love the hare. I feel your pain, last week I spent a few days around Valence and the temperatures were in the upper 30s. There were plenty of bees about.


    • Interesting about the bees but all credit to you to be about when the temperatures were in the upper 30’s! Perhaps, I am just getting tired of these periods of excess heat this year and crabby about the lack of rain for the garden and countryside. Amelia


  9. The swallowtail is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A lovely post Amelia, I especially like the Catalapa, just wish I had a huge garden for one. Your Swallow Tails are amazing and so well photographed…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great pictures – We are inn Paris at the moment en route to our house in Vinca. I am looking forward to seeing what isnecst we have in our garden this summer


  12. Spectacular butterfly photos!
    I miss my Lavateras; I had two, and they were such good value, flowering all through the summer. They both died last year after about 3 years, and I read that they’re quite short lived perennials.


    • I have heard that Lavateras are short lived. Over here they grow very rapidly and I have trouble keeping them in check but I have been successful with cuttings. I think Lavateras are more attractive in their earlier years. If you do decide on any more you could try and keep some cuttings in the wings to take over. Amelia


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