a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Cosmos and more Cosmos


The leaves have started to fall.

The cherry trees leaves are turning yellow, like a lot of other trees outside of the garden.

There are less apples and they are smaller than last year.

The flowers at the moment are the old favourites apart from the Tithonia rotundifolia “Torch” which is just behind the conifer trying to out grow it.  Kourosh sent away for the seeds which he had read were a magnet to bees.  I looked forward to seeing the bright red flowers he had described.

I was disappointed at their brash orange colour and felt we had been cheated.  I checked on the net only to find that this is their correct colour.  I do not want to be sexist but Kourosh’s approximation of colours is perhaps a “man thing” – and no he is not colour blind.

However, for anyone who wants a tall, sunflower-like multi-headed plant, I can recommend it.  Several plants in the back garden have done well and stayed unsupported in the sun.

My obedient plant (Physostegia virginiata) that was identified on the blog last year is doing very well in a hard place to fill in the sun.  It has doubled in area since last year so I am going to have to keep my eye on its spread.

The bumble bees have no problem with a rapid increase in its flowers.

The bumble bees are in love with the single dahlias.

The Cosmos attracts bumble bees…

Carpenter bees…

Solitary bees (perhaps Megachile willughbiella)…

of different species (perhaps Halictus scabiosae).

The Abutilon looks happier than ever this year.  This is the third year that a new shoot has risen from its frozen stalk.  I suppose I should cover it in the winter but I am reluctant to pander to plants that cannot cope with the weather.  It is my fault for attempting to grow a plant that is too tender for here.

It is beautiful, though, and the bees like it.

At least this year I have managed to acquire Sedum that are attractive to the bees and butterflies and with the drought conditions we have experienced this year, I will be trying to expand by dividing the plants.

The Asters are opening and signalling the end of the summer.  It has been a difficult, unpredictable year in the garden with extreme heat at the beginning followed by a cloudy, moody August and lack of rain from the beginning of the year.



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.

36 thoughts on “Cosmos and more Cosmos

  1. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos. “Brash” orange? Its beautiful! Can understand you being disappointed if you were looking forward to red but all the same, this is a very beautiful flower!


  2. Lots of lovely photos! I see you have your name on each photo and I wonder how you do this, as my husband often gives me photos that I would like to be credited to him and not consumed by the rapacious and unattributable google . Many thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have happy happy bees. I am lucky that way too here in the North Carolina Blue Ridge backyard: hundreds of cosmos, & each with its own bee. Goldenrod, autumn joy & asters coming on, & bees will feast there too. They’re stocking up with us for the long winter to come. Merci beaucoup for these beautiful photographs of your lovely flowers & busy bees.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your weather this year sounds like what we had last year, but at least you still have plenty of flowers.
    You’ll want to keep an eye on the obedient plant. It can be just about impossible to ever get rid of but isn’t too hard to keep corralled.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nothing wrong with brash orange, unless, I suppose, you’re expecting bright red 😮 Yeah, I bet it’s a man thing 🙂

    I discovered sedum about 3 years ago and love it. It self seeds and small pieces jammed in the ground grow full plants with absolutely no TLC. The bees love them and they survive on neglect.

    LOVE your photos of the various pollinators on your cosmos.

    You say it was a difficult year in your garden but it sure doesn’t look like it from these photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not a great fan of orange for anything except oranges :). I think I did not enjoy the garden so much because of the drought which made me anxious and our weather has been totally atypical which I found disruptive. I really should not complain as so far there have been no great losses apart from the two hives which we think did not succeed in re-queening. We have talked to other beekeepers in the area with more hives and found out that this has been a common problem this year. Nobody has an answer to why this should be. Amelia


  6. I wonder if bees can see orange because they cannot see red at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point! However, they love red poppies so for them the poppies will look black but it does not put them off. My two small Diervilla rivularis have miraculously survived under grim circumstances and one even flowered this year. How are yours getting on? Amelia


      • My Diervilla rivularis “Honeybee” plants are marvellous and robustly healthy. Thet attract all sorts of pollinaters all day long and well into evening. I have an order out now for a new batch of 100 Honeybees and from the same nursery man 25 each of D.r. Butterfly and D.r.Dise I figure I can’t really go wrong with a plant that flowers from May until the frost stops them. By the way the nurseryman is working on a D.r. plant now with silver and green foliage.


        • I think I should try and spread my two plants as I had to bring them back from the U.K. They should spread easily if they are related to Honeysuckle.


          • Hallo Amelia, if yours are the D.rivularis “Honeybee” variety then there will still be a growers licence on them for another couple of years I think. So we ordinary garden folk may not do our cutting, spreading and sharing thing with D.r.H yet. It has to do with all the expenses made for growing, testing and world-wide experimental planting before a new hybrid can be considered a successful plant for the retail market. The nurseryman has to get his costs back first before that licence is lifted. I suppose a bit like a patent on a not growing object. Just be patient for a while longer.


  7. I’m taking notes–next year I’ll be planting garden around the house. It’ll be the first major effort to plant things I don’t intend to eat.

    Our odd weather makes garden planning a bit of a challenge. After several dry years, this summer has been cool and wet. Very wet. Almost mushy wet. The plants seem happy–though many of the vegetables haven’t yet matured. Too cool. Maybe, too wet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems that gardening is so weather dependent. You can get too much rain or too little. I think I would still think of the dry years and only plant drought tolerant plants as there are lots to chose from. I think as much as annuals are tempting, trees and bushes are better for us and the bees around the house, as they require somewhat less work. Cosmos don’t really count as they are such toughies and self-seed anyway 🙂 Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your bees look very happy and lovely pictures too. Here it feels like autumn and, on cue, I saw my first ivy bees yesterday. They looked a bit shocked to be out in this rather unhospitable landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amelia… I’m with K….
    I’d call the colour of your Tithonia rotundifolia “Torch”, scarlet… it is too deep red for an orange.
    On a 2CV paintchart it would be listed as Rouge Vallelunga… and is the colour of our 1989 2CV!!

    It is wonderful [probably is a man thing] and would look fantastic growing with Cosmos sulphureas at its feet…
    and that bed from the conifer to the capped wall is perfectly French… the flowers in the right-hand corner are orange to me.
    What’s that one??… I am trying to create a “fire” bed…
    one that catches light at different times of the year, then smokes…
    fine grasses and white Gaura do the smoke very well…. and I’ve got some plants to start the fire burning…
    but all the ones I have have now stopped “burning” and I am just left with smoke….
    but it isn’t Autumn yet!! The fire of Summer should still be burning….

    The bee that is on “Torch” looks well covered with pollen… as do all the others.
    And that Ice-Plant sedum is a great colour, a deep magenta red… rather than the wishy-washy pink of ours…
    but insects love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not wavering in the face of your technicalities – it is orange and bright orange at that!
      The orange in the right hand corner is my orange Cosmos sulphureus. I hand pick the seeds from the flowers each year and keep the orange and the lemon separate. It works fairly well – even had a two-tone this year that was very attractive. If you like the orange ones, I have masses of seed and I could easily send you some. Amelia


      • Amelia… and cathysrealcountrygardencom…. I now use a rather good picture “library” that is also a basic picture editor like Picassa…
        it is called FastStone Image Viewer… and the version I have is V6.3.
        I like it because it is rather like Adobe Bridge in the library actions… as opposed to the library function that comes with Photoshop Elements… that starts by trying to make a complete “on the system” library of all the images it can find.
        FastStone works only on the folder you have opened.

        One of the editing functions is to put text… and arrows, lines, circles, etcetera… onto a photo.
        You can also brighten, clone, crop, resize, rotate, compare images… and perhaps for me the most important… you can zoom to 100% [and more] to look at an image to check quality.
        It was recommended to me by word of mouth from a photographer who uses it… rather than by a pushed advert.
        Above all… it is actually freeware for personal use.
        Web address is http://www.FastStone.org

        And thank you for the offer of C.sulphureas…. we have just a little… tee-hee….
        the seedlings transplant so easily, we just let it do it’s own thing…
        now, that one is “BRASH”… especially the yellow…
        it makes sunflowers seem jaded

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Sedum are really easy to propagate. One stem can yield 4 or 5 cuttings and each leaf is capable of producing a new plant. If you do a search on my blog you should find where I posted about doing it. I love Sedum.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When ever we visit a garden with our club if Tithonia is in flower it is always commented on, usually favourably. I have decided to grow it for the first time next year, hopefully to compliment the David Howard Dahlia. I think you are right regarding colour descriptions, Irene is always trying to explain to me the difference between blue pink and red pink! I wonder if the bees can tell?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you have come clean about your lack of precision in describing shades and colours. Kourosh is not alone. I think the Tithonia could be a very useful plant. It has coped well with the hot sun and is still thriving in the cooler damp weather. It is multi-headed and is self-supporting which is good for such a tall plant.
      There has been a lot of scientific work done on colour choice for bees and I think they are capable of discerning the different shades. How this affects their choice in nature is another thing. Amelia


  12. Hello Amelia,
    Lovely photos. The garden looks great in spite of the rain shortages, and your Cosmos look fantastic. I hope that the bees have fared well too with all the sunny weather earlier on, and that the honey will flow later,
    best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have harvested our honey and were very pleased with it. Kourosh will post about it soon. We have now swung into a period of cloudy, rainy weather which is just as atypical for this time of year. Amelia


  13. It has certainly been a great year for cosmos – we have noticed that too. Taller, larger flowers, longer-lasting. The bees have had a feast. And butterflies, moths and shiny hoverflies. Penstemon has been pretty good too. High uptake of accommodation in the bee-box by mason bees – but very strangely not a single cutter bee this season. It’s been a funny old summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Amalia, going backwards in these comments to the subject licencing on plants. I asked William the nursery man who bred Diervilla rivularis Honeybee and in turn he asked the organisation who grants these plant licences.
    The licence lasts for 25 years… That is the rough news for gardeners. BUT for ordinary garden people like you and I are, as long as you don’t attempt selling your cuttings and thus underming the growers market, no notice wiil paid to our cuttings and plantings for our own use. Thought I must let you know that……

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must admit I have never thought about the licensing rights of plant breeders but there again I have never thought about selling plants either. I feel the protection is very necessary as breeding the plants must be a long and costly operation and it is only fair that the plant breeder has his rights preserved.


  15. Amelia, my first batch of Cosmos seeds from your beautiful garden have just germinated here in Doha and you can imagine how excited I am. A corner of your garden in mine is a wonderful thought.


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