a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Flowers on the roof


Flowers on roof

I have flowers on the roof.  I have not planted them but the seeds have found a home and the rain has done the rest.

Anthophora plumipes

This solitary bee (Anthophora plumipes) takes shelter in the house wall as it whiles away the time until the females are hatched.  If it was sunnier he would be out patrolling the garden but he is inside – like me.  The continuous clouds and frequent rain makes the garden option less attractive than usual at this time of the year.

Another male, this time an Osmia cornuta, continues his vigil outside the bee hotel.

He had less time to wait after the photograph as the female Osmia cornuta are now hatched and busy filling up the holes and bamboo sticks in the bee hotel.  She makes her own mortar to carefully seal in each egg she lays, tamping it in place with the little horns or “cornes” she has on her head.  One of the horns is visible in the photograph, she has two, but the other is obscured by the antenna.

At least during the bright spells I have had some chance to check out some of my newer plants for the bees like the Lonicera tatarica.

The flowers have been given the seal of approval by the bumble bees.  I would be interested if anyone had any other shrub type of honeysuckle other than the L. fragrantissima which I have also got.

It also let me have my first view this year of the early bumble bee (Bombus pratorum) which looked like a queen with full pollen sacs starting up her colony.

Another new shrub flowering this year for the first time is the Elaeagnus umbellata.  I was pleased to see the bees on its flowers as I have bought quite a few of them.  They are covered in flowers although they are still small and are in their first year in the garden.  I think they should look quite impressive next year.

A lot of the fruit trees are in flower just now.  The apple, Belle de Boskoop gets first prize at the moment for the most beautiful flowers.  The buds are a beautiful deep pink that softens as the flower opens.

The bees, however, differ and award first prize to the cherry trees.  It is interesting to see that, despite being offered apple, pear and plum tree flowers at the same time, the bees favour the cherries.  Obviously, they visit all the flowering fruit trees but they do have their favourites.

The Victoria plum gets its fair share of visits.

But what had me guessing was this bee that was only visiting the faded flowers of the plum tree.  I find that so unusual as their were plenty of fresh flowers around even on the same tree.  So why should she do that?  Just to keep me guessing?

We do care about the other visitors to the garden and we have put up some more nest boxes this year.  However, the wren has decided to make a nest in the coils of rope Kourosh has left in the outside workshop.  We try not to go too near it but it looks beautiful constructed from moss that has been gathered.  At least it must have been easy gathering moss this year!

We always hear the cuckoos at this time of year but rarely see them, however, this year we have spotted one that comes in a tree at the bottom of the garden.  Kourosh has even managed to take a short video of it “singing”.  It is fun to hear the first cuckoo but if you are working a lot in the garden it does not take long before you wish it had another tune to sing.

We are now being promised more sun and less rain.  I truly hope the forecast holds true this time.

The bees have had enough of being stuck in the hives sheltering form the rain.  They are hoping for sunshine as there are plenty of flowers available for them now.





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.

44 thoughts on “Flowers on the roof

  1. It doesn’t seem like anyplace in the northern hemisphere is getting much of a spring this year. It seems to be cool and wet the world over, from what I’ve read.
    That’s the first time I’ve heard a cuckoo. It sounds just like my grandmother’s clock used to.
    The garden is beautiful with all the flowers and trees. That’s where your spring outshines ours so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The flowers on the room is amusing because of all the weird things that grow on roofs here. On the coast, where roofs can collect quite a bit of debris, pampas grass sometimes grow in the gutters, and can split the gutters. In Los Angeles, Mexican fan palms often grow in gutters.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What beautiful close-up photos of the bees and flowers. I love the wren’s nest and I’m reminded of the Willie wagtails we used to have in a previous garden who built their nests in most inconvenient places.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great that you have cuckoos – and managed to photograph one. I’ve only seen one a couple of times. I used to hear them every spring in Sussex – but sadly I haven’t for a few years now. D

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to concentrate on the bees but my bee magazine came in yesterday and it has a large article on the disappearance of birds in the French countryside. According to the latest study, bird populations have dropped by a third on the average in France over the past fifteen years. Amelia


  5. Great bee shots you’ve been getting lately . . . and flowers, and plants, etc. etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome post! I love those gorgeous Osmia…but I have yet to see one in Ireland.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The garden looks so welcoming ( the bees seem to agree with me!) and I love the carpet of tiny daisies.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely post Amalia, our weather is slower to warm up than yours but there s great promise just beginning to show. Lucky you with wrens and cuckoos in the garden… You two are definitely on the right track it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s nice when the birds surprise you with something nice. Kourosh had to laugh today when a blue tit started eating his lemon tree’s flower buds. The lemon tree is in a pot and has just been put outside. So he was not rewarded for all the seeds he feeds them! Amelia


  9. I enjoyed this, Amelia — blossoms, bees, birds and their behaviours that have you guessing. And I listened to the cuckoo calling! Thanks for a lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nice to see your bees, even if they could get out much. The A. plumipes are busy here on dry days and I have seen quite a few females already, accompanied by predatory males. Osmia cornuta made it to the UK a few years ago for the first time and seems to be slowly expanding in London. It’s a very beautiful bee. We have gutters full of sycamore seedlings, I must get them cleared.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sympathise about the seedlings. We have lots of Ash seedlings coming up. I did not know about Osmia cornuta in the U.K. I suppose they can easily be transported in wood, just like the Asian hornets arriving in the U.K. The O.cornuta are a much nicer addition. I don’t think the spring and winter temperatures here are too different from the southern parts of the U.K. Amelia


  11. Fabulous photos as always Amelia ,of the flowers, bees and cuckoo….well done indeed – I know how much time and , yes, luck goes into getting all these great photos. At last your garden seems to be bursting into life, and its a real boost for those of us reading from cooler climes. Also loved the pink Lonicera…I wonder how hardy is it, do you think? Such a striking colour, and does it have a typically strong scent?
    best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Gorgeous, gorgeous. It gives me hope. Spring will come. Right now, I’m looking out at a sleet storm, after yesterday’s 8 inches of new snow. No blooms here. But the grouse are busy, pecking at the buds on the black cherry trees. It’s our first year in the house, and we are treated to new and different visitors, and seeing new things through the eyes of season. (Albeit, late season.)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Plants that seed themselves in a garden are always the best! Luck you hearing a cuckoo!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I just adore the osmias, I have quite a few of them who have laid their eggs in my bee house (note: need more bee houses). I had 9 last year, and this spring 7 hatched; I now have 10 new ones! The two biggest ones from last year are still closed, I hope its because they are a different sort of bee. Only today did I discover that there is more than one egg in each bamboo tunnel! I was at a garden fair and there was a cutaway display of one of their nests after hatching. I have a similarly inconvenient nest, a rouge gorge on a shelf in my work shed, which is never closed. Its at about 4 feet from the floor and its very hard to go in without disturbing her. Fortunately she seems determined to return; the first time I saw the next I didn’t know what it was and went right up to it and touched it. Thought it was a partially finished or abandoned nest, but went back the next day to look and it had an egg; no bird to be seen. Each day another egg and I figured out that she doesn’t sit on them until they are all laid so that they will hatch together. Now she is sitting on it so I am trying to stay out.
    bonnie in Provence

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d love a robin to nest nearby. I must admit that our out house is often out-of-bounds when something decides to nest there. I am sure you have other bees nesting in your bee house. You will have to wait to see what comes out! It might be Osmia bicornis. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  15. So many beautiful blossoms! And with bees! I will have to be more observant about bees’ preferences. Gardening takes you in wonderful directions, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly does! Having a lot of bees and birds in the garden makes it so much more alive. It makes the choice of plants more thoughtful too. It is not enough to be beautiful. They have to be useful too; providing nourishment for the bees or the birds, or us! Amelia


  16. Tree blossom is so special; we have the crab apple at the moment with very similar flowers to yours. The bees are going crazy in the garden at the moment. They love the rosemary and the Teucrium and some of the tulips.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a busy time for the bees. In addition, over here the rapeseed is in flower. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • Does that make good honey?


        • I like the taste as it is not pure rapeseed we get from the bees but one that is mixed with all the spring flowers and fruit tree nectar. However, the honey has a tendency to set in the frames with only a little rape seed nectar in the honey. We do not have our own extractor so we allow the bees to make their own comb freely and take out the honey comb. Last year we just hand extracted the bits of comb that were not ideal squares so we had both honey comb and pots of honey. It makes a very white, creamy honey which is very nice on toast.


  17. A robin built a nest in our one greenhouse last year, I keep the door open during the spring. It was exciting and inconvenient in equal measure. I use to see and hear the cuckoo a lot more in the past, I am still waiting to hear one this year.


  18. I know the feeling! It is so exciting and you are happy that they have found a safe spot to nest but it is inconvenient 🙂 Amelia


  19. I love your photos – they are absolutely stunning! I have been listening to a cuckoo whilst in the garden today, they really do make such a peaceful sound. I have never been lucky enough to see one though.


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