a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Rain, rain


Last night on the news it said that this January in France has seen the highest rainfall in a hundred years!  I must admit everyone around is bemoaning the clouds and the rain although, as a gardener, I tend to see the bright side of all this as everything was too dry last year.  In addition, we have had no local flooding – not yet anyway.

Most of the winter flowers seem happy to cope with the rain, humidity and low light conditions but not my Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox).  The wet fading flowers are being attacked by black mold, however, on the rare days we get the sunshine the wonderful perfume of the Wintersweet flowers permeates the air.

The Wintersweet only started to flower last year and this is last year’s photograph of the beautiful, waxy petals of the  flower.  I will have to wait another year to see it in full flower.

The birds on the other hand do not appear to mind the rain and the Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) come down to forage in our “lawn” ignoring the sparrows and the bird food on the patio.  This photograph has been taken through the window while it was raining so the quality is not excellent.

The grass is shooting up as high as the finch’s head and making him bedraggled.

I wondered what they could be eating until I saw that the grass is already producing ample flower heads and the grass seeds are easily seen sticking to its beak.  I had never considered that the grass seed would be so attractive to them.

Hey you two!  There is a new birdhouse all ready hanging in the apricot tree on the side of the garden that you prefer.  Take a look in while you are here.

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.

20 thoughts on “Rain, rain

  1. Regarding the lovely birds choice of grass seed:

    I wouldn’t think of doing it now, but I recall as a child picking the seeds and pulling the stems of grass to eat. I remember them as having a nutty, buttery flavor… that was 60 years ago and my mind may have romanticized the flavor a bit. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, at least it isn’t snow but I hope you’ll see some sunshine soon. And I hope you won’t see any flooding.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep! Rain, rain and more rain here in the Pacific Northwest. We are supposed to be used to it, but January has been extremely wet and dark. More rain in the forecast. Makes for wonderful greens in the landscape though. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just wrote about the rain here. We happen to be in a chaparral climate.


    • On the national news last night (TF2) it was explained that a lot of the flooding in France is caused by changing agricultural techniques. The soil is being worked by machines and the chemicals that are added kill the soil fauna and reduce humus resulting in a harder less porous soil. In addition, the fields are being enlarged and intervening trees and hedgerows removed which leaves less flora to absorb the rains. Flooding will continue if the agricultural practices do not change. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely wet goldfinches! It really has been wet! My lawn has turned into a raised bog!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gold Finches prefer really fine seeds so most stuff in standard bird seed mix is too coarse for them. That will be why they are going for the grass.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had not realised they could be quite so selective. Those little grass seeds don’t look very nourishing to me but neither does thistle clocks. I leave my asters in seed just in case they go for those but I have never seen birds take the seeds. Amelia


  7. I keep saying to Hazel that it’s a very wet winter here, but all she says is “It’s Devon”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your poor Goldfinches do look a little bedraggled! I have seen on the news here how wet it is in France, with pictures of the Seine in full flood.


    • We had lunch at a friend’s house in Saintes today and the Charente had overflown its banks in the centre of the town onto parts of the road beside the river. There is no forecast of more rain for the next few days so I hope the Charente will not rise any further. Amelia


  9. It’s almost impossible to imagine having so much rain at one time, although we sometimes have floods, and serious ones in some places. We have been so lacking in rain for about three months and gardening at the moment always starts with ‘what shall we water first’.


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