a french garden

Out of the bedroom window

46 Comments

Out of the bedroom window the leaves under the apricot tree testify that autumn is changing the garden.

With the tall “Sweet Lavender” aster now in flower,  the asters are still the main attraction.

The carder bees’ colour may be fading but they love the tiny flowers of the “Sweet Lavender”

The asters are the best place to see the bee action.

There are still a lot of butterflies around like this Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and they join the bees.

I decided to visit my Mulberry as we have had no rain for some time and it was never watered during the dry summer.

The leaves change to a beautiful gold in the autumn and this year is no different, thankfully.

I was standing admiring the Mulberry when I noticed a huge dragonfly on the leaves basking in the sunshine.  I rushed back to the house, got my camera, came back and it was still there!  Such a difference from photographing bees or butterflies!

It is a Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) and much more impressive than the little brown damselflies that were in the garden at the same time.

Another find was a mass of these toadstools growing under the debris in a border I was clearing.  Sorry I had no time to find or speculate on a name as there is too much to be done outside at the moment.

I have decided to do more vegetables this winter.  So apart from the usual broad beans, brussel sprouts and leeks, I have added onions, carrots, cauliflower and Romanesco brocolli.  This is just an experiment brought on by following Notre petit jardin Breton.  They make so much use of their garden that I felt I should make more effort.  If the slugs and snails are unkind to me it could be a short experiment and I will stick to the easier option of tomatoes and courgettes in the summer.

I have been harvesting my surprise crop of Goji berries but I am still unable to develop a taste for them.  I decided to dry them as they are usually sold in “raisin” format.  I pricked them first and them set them to dry at a low temperature in the oven.  I managed to get them to look like raisins but they still remained too juicy to consider storing them.  They did taste marginally better.  The birds have not touched them yet.

The birds get pretty spoiled in the garden as Kourosh feeds them every morning and we have gleaned sunflower heads for them from the fields that have already been harvested.  Obviously they taste better than Goji berries.

It must all be a matter of taste or availability.  I have masses of this white erigeron growing all round the paths and walls but it attracts no pollinators.  Then I saw this honey bee feeding on it.  Will she have a problem when she gets back to the hive with the nectar?   Will her sisters say, “Why did you collect that when there are loads of asters out there?”

The Cosmos is still blooming…

and there is still plenty of sunshine to enjoy a break from clearing the borders.  October has been a good month in the garden, so far.

 

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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.

46 thoughts on “Out of the bedroom window

  1. Your window view is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your October.

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  2. I think that is the tallest aster I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of it.

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  3. Lots of lovely pictures! I think the fungi is a panther cap.

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  4. Apricot and olive trees? That is SO Santa Clara Valley! That mulberry is something I do not see much of though. Only a few of my clients grow mulberries. I only recently got copies from a small shrubby type that I hope looks something like yours does. I would like to grow the red mulberry as well, but the trees are too big to get the fruit from, and they do not like to be kept down.

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    • I love Mulberry trees and there are so many different types. A lot of people over here buy a sterile variety for a shade tree for eating under but I would personally prefer other trees for that and have fertile trees. The coastal tourist resort St George de Didon near Royan has red mulberry trees along the esplanade and they are not too tall and have good fruit (tested personally!) There is a huge mulberry that grows in Iran and it is called the King of the mulberries. There are also lots of white mulberries grown in Greece that are very sweet. My little bush had an accident. We had grown it from seed and it was its first winter in the garden and was three feet tall. Someone ran over it with a tractor during the winter and we thought it was lost as the main stem broke near the base. However, it put new growth out and we have left it as a bush. I love dried white mulberries when I can find them to buy. Amelia

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      • Mulberries are almost as tough as figs, at least while young. They do not mind coming back from the roots (if not grafted). That is interesting that you grew it from seed. I grew mine from cutting because I know nothing about their genetic stability from seed. Mulberries were not commonly grown for fruit in the Santa Clara Valley, but were instead grown to distract birds from apricots, and prunes ripening at the same time. They were quite big and messy because no one picked much fruit. Most of the fruit was out of reach. Back then, no one noticed the mess because the area was not so urban with paved roads and such.

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        • I love the idea of using mulberries to keep the birds off the apricots and plums! I would not recommend growing mulberries from seeds but it was the only way we could see of perhaps obtaining the mulberry we wanted. The mulberries called white mulberries in the UK are in fact really pinkish and taste soapy and are not edible. My white mulberry has yet to produce fruit so it might not breed true but still at least I have a pretty bush. Amelia

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          • I have heard that the white mulberries are not very flavorful. The fruitless mulberry is a popular ornamental tree here, and is supposedly a cultivar of white mulberry. However, it is a big tree like the common black mulberry. I would like to get a copy of red mulberry because it is the only mulberry that is native to North America, although not native anywhere near here. I know the fruit is not as good as the black mulberry, but I want to try it anyway.

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  5. You write so vividly that I was taken to your garden where it is much better than ours at the moment. We have so much rain this month that if you stand still in one place for two minutes water oozes upwards and your wellies get stuck in the mud….

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  6. Lovely shots. I especially enjoyed seeing the Southern Hawker, a dragonfly species that we don’t have in the US. I was fortunate to photograph a similar species, a Migrant Hawker, during a trip to Brussels in early September. It is wonderful to see that so many flowers and other vegetation are still blooming.

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    • It must be interesting for you to see the different wild life species in Europe. I would love to see the U.S. bumble bees that I have seen in photographs. Amelia

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      • It is absolutely fascinating to be able to make a limited set of wildlife and nature comparisons when I am able to travel abroad (or even in other parts of the United States). Some of the species I encounter are familiar, some are related to the familiar ones at home, and some are completely new and different. It’s so enjoyable that I try to find wild spaces to explore rather than historic buildings when visiting urban settings like Brussels and Vienna.

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  7. There is a feedback system going on in the hive when it comes to nectar. When the erigeron nectar comes in, the house bees will be slow in taking it if they taste that it’s low in sugar. It also depends what else is coming in – if aster sugar is higher in nectar, they will be faster to take that. Sorry if you have read about this already, you may well have. I think it’s so clever. Pollen is a different matter as returning foraging bees pack that into the cells themselves.

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  8. Your lovely photos show an absolutely idyllic garden in October Amelia! It is my favourite time of year as everything starts to slow down and the temperatures are more pleasant for working outdoors. Great shot of the dragonfly – they rarely stay still long enough to be photographed here!

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  9. I hope all goes well with the vegetable garden. Notre petit jardin Breton may be a hard act to follow. I notice they are growing choko ( chouchou ). Is that something which would grow in your garden. I like them a lot but my garden would be too cold for them.

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  10. Beautiful photos as usual ! I love the nice cup of tea for birds in the tree… Thank you for talking of our blog Notre petit jardin Breton. I’m glad it could inspire you. Enjoy your vegetables as much as us.
    Chouchou are very easy to grow, it give us a lot. We are still harvesting on it. We have to protect it from frost in winter with straw. it’s in the garden for three years now.
    The weather in Brittany is very mild, specially where we live (by the seaside) .

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  11. I recently read a Canadian study analyzing incoming pollen on pollinator hives. The surprising part of the data was that the bees diversify pollen collection, even if it requires that some bees go great distances to collect other types of pollen to ensure a diversified diet. How this is communicated to individual foragers is one of the great mysteries of bees, but, they will do what is necessary to provide a full range of amino acids and proteins in their diet. Perhaps the hive will not turn up its nose at the bee ignoring the ample aster crop.

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    • This fascinates me too. Even Ivy bees that are considered to forage solely on ivy have been shown to gather small amounts of other plant pollen. It makes you think also of the medicinal values of honey and other produce of the hives for us. Amelia

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  12. October does seem to be compensating us for the poor August and September. Perhaps the bees like a nectar cocktail on a Saturday night!🍸Your garden is looking full of autumn splendour.

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  13. Loved reading about what’s happening in your garden this month. We are also having a delightful October.

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  14. Fabulous photos. Especially of the dragonfly who waited for you in the mulberry tree. Such a lovely autumn in your French garden. Merci beaucoup for sharing it with us.

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  15. We are being spoiled this year. A lot of the flowers have taken on a second spurt and dahlias that I nearly cut down earlier have started flowering again. Amelia

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  16. Carder bees – that’s what those little pale ones are. Thanks Amelia!

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  17. Stunning, I am very jealous 🙂

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  18. Thanks for the beautiful pictures, especially the insects.

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    • The good weather is keeping the insects on the go. Unfortunately, I have been seeing a lot of Asian hornets that I think are the new queens lately, they seem to like my large fuschia bush. Amelia

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