a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Here’s to an untidy garden


The Cosmos in the garden are a motley crew.  Most of it is self-seeded from last years plants.

The bees have no care for floral coordination of the garden but I suppose we have them to thank for the multitude of seed heads around the garden.

So now in October we have the Cosmos plants attracting the birds.

Kourosh has noticed that they often arrive in pairs and you can see that there are two in this photograph if you look closely.

The Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) is one of the most colourful birds we see in the garden.

They give me a great reason for leaving the Cosmos free to seed and to delay any tidying of the garden.

I’d rather have the Goldfinch than a tidy garden.


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.

35 thoughts on “Here’s to an untidy garden

  1. Try this one on for “tangled garden”: https://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=https://www.gallery.ca/sites/default/files/styles/ngc_scale_1200/public/The%2520Tangled%2520Garden.jpg%3Fitok%3DOrvVfuc4%26timestamp%3D1501269260 &imgrefurl=https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artwork/the-tangled-garden&h=799&w=1000&tbnid=D_-mdMRHCuNmLM:&tbnh=160&tbnw=199&usg=__wgwoHIsL8IesLfyi9Ai85RPCnlY=&vet=10ahUKEwjY7rvI2oTXAhUW_WMKHTlhAn8Q_B0IlwEwDg..i&docid=TbU5i0EDSZB9rM&itg=1&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjY7rvI2oTXAhUW_WMKHTlhAn8Q_B0IlwEwDg by Canadian “Group of Seven” artist J.E.H. MacDonald.

    Tom Atkinson

    Cats: Hepatica (going concern), Barley (2007-2017): “the spirit of the dead will survive in the memory of the living”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really charming photos and your last line sums up my gardening ethos too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Three quarters of the flying insects in Europe are gone. Leaving a corner of our mercifully untidy Gardens to harbour the remaining quater is the least we can do !🐜🕷🐛🐞🐝

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have to hope and to keep passing on the message🐞🌞🐞🌞🐞🌞🐞🌞

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fabulous Goldfinch photos Amelia. We’d love to be able to leave more vegetation to decay gracefully, but we find in our increasingly wet mild winters here, that it never gets frosted and then just slumps as decomposing sludge where all the early spring bulbs are emerging… Ah well…best wishes

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  6. I’ve always loved cosmos. Just think of all the insects your colony of them must attract, along with the birds.

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  7. Amelia, I think we would win the prize for “untidy garden” but we have a ton of cool wildlife living in it. Days this summer with the air full of huge dragon flies, and then very few mosquitoes. Thanks dragon flies. It’s spider season and the bushes are full of webs and tunnels. We also have an almost resident black bear—umm!, maybe not so good.

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  8. Those close up pictures do not show the garden as untidy. The flowers are just finishing up. I leave sunflowers until the foliage is black and hanging because the finches like them so much! Well, I suppose that really is untidy. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, it is important to leave flowers to finish up if they produce seed that is taken. They grow a lot of corn (maize) around us and we collect the leftover heads after the harvest and dry and keep them for the birds, otherwise they get ploughed in with the stalks by the farmers. Amelia

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  9. I leave my cosmos for as long as possible, and I get little goldfinch visitors too. It’s so delightful, I wouldn’t tidy up my garden for anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful photos, as ever. I couldn’t agree more with you about the wild garden for wildlife…. I don’t “tidy” mine up nearly as much as most Egyptians do, and as a result it’s full of all sorts of interesting creatures. I had a friendly chat with a praying mantis on the rosemary bush just this morning….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Every morning when I’m brushing my teeth I enjoy watching the goings-on from my bedroom window 😊. Enjoy your goldfinches, Amelia!

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  12. I think both the flowers and the Goldfinches are beautiful. Tidiness is a mater of opinion!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. We are also members of the untidy garden club. Good to see your bees so active, here all I have seen locally is a few Common Carder bees but then yestereday I came across a very active ivy bee nest site by a beach in Dorset, quite a surprise especially after all the storms.

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  14. Aren’t goldfinches wonderful? I always think if one went somewhere distant – South Africa? Australia? – and saw one for the first time ever, it would be an unforgettable moment. Easy to take them for granted. And pink cosmos – definitely a top 5 bee attractor this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We don’t get them in the garden all year round so we appreciate it when they come in. Lucky Cosmos are very sun and drought resistant so they do very well over here. They have planted them on a lot of the roundabouts around here. I hope the bees know the Highway Code. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh so pretty. What a nice place


  16. Every year we get plants where they were never planted, the untidy garden, love it! I never have the heart to pull anything besides weeds so we often have tomato plants growing with the other veggies or carrots and onions that pop up all over, I leave them where they sprout always. Don’t get me started on the flower garden, that’s the untidiest of them all lol


  17. wow these flowers are soo adorable 😍😍😍nice👍

    Liked by 2 people

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