a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France




January was so cold and I became so impatient to see the Hellebores open.  My Hellebores have obligingly self-seeded and I have tenderly spread them throughout the garden knowing how much I appreciate their colour and the number of bees that they attract in the early warm days of the year.

They are beautiful plants and provide both nectar and pollen for the bees.  The green tubes that you can see behind the bee in the last picture, are the hellebore nectaries.  There is an excellent site if you want more of an insight into the botany of Hellebores with superb photographs.

Sarcococca confusa

The winter flowers of the Sarcococca confusa are as important to me as to the bees and they bring their perfume to assure me that spring will not be long in coming.


The crocus bring the longed for colour – no matter what the weather is like.

1st Flowers plum tree

The plum tree is just as impatient to flower, but with the first flowers opening so early I doubt whether the fruits will survive.  It is two years since we have tasted the plums as although these signs are encouraging, winter will not have finished with us yet.

1st pollen 17.2.19

The willow near the bee hives is covered with soft pussy willow and I saw the male stamens break out with their yellow pollen today.  If the weather keeps good the tree will soon be covered with bees of all sorts.


The carpenter bees (Xylocopa violacea) have returned.

Carder bumble bee.JPGMore and more queen bumble bees are topping up on nectar, but I have not seen any gathering pollen yet (they know it is too early.)

Red Admiral

The butterflies are around too.  I think this Red Admiral must have overwintered somewhere judging by the condition of the wings.

Macroglossum stellatarum

However, I was surprised to see a Hummingbird Hawk-Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) so early.

Bumble on Hellebore

All in all I feel disoriented by this spell of clement, sunny weather with temperatures going up to 17 degrees centigrade sometimes in the afternoon.

Perhaps not so disoriented as the bumble bee above who seemed to be looking for nectar in the wrong place.

Two bumble bees inside Hellebore

But finally we can take a lesson from these two bumble bees.  Life is not all about rushing to get nectar.  We need to make choices and decide to just enjoy it sometimes.



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.

26 thoughts on “Springtime?

  1. The last photo is very special. The bees are so symmetrical!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for posting the wonderful photographs. So encouraging that Spring will surely come again.
    Lots of snow here last week and temperatures below zero. Each evening we would bring in the hummingbird feeder and put it our before dawn each morning. It has been such a joy to see the Annas’ each morning as we despair they might not survive the cold nights.
    The sarcococca at my entry gate welcomes all with its fragrance as they enter our garden.
    All the best for a wonderful year ahead.
    Regards Janine
    Tsawwassen, just south of Vancouver BC

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely photos. Saw my first honeybees this weekend, but we have no flowers out yet. I put out some sugar, which they loved. Is that the right thing to do?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It has been cold here too Amelia but the last couple of days have shown us what spring could be like.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Still snowed in here in the Cascade foothills north of Seattle, slid a chained up car to the road (which has been plowed) yesterday, so can hike down and drive for groceries. No spring yet, but I know it’s there under the snow. Your photos make me smile, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your lovely photographs Amelia, the last one of the happily sheltering bumbles is a good lesson for us to take it easy and enjoy beauty as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lovely to see your photos of insects enjoying your flowers. We have a worrying decline in insect numbers and I’m not seeing many in my garden. We are in drought, and have had a very hot summer, and I expect this accounts for some of the decline: I hope to see more when the weather cools down a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely to see all these signs of spring emerging. The last photo is particularly delightful. The bees in my garden are not so many at the moment. I think it is too dry and hot. The cicadas are loving the weather, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I saw a Peacock butterfly on Friday which quite surprised me. Lovely pictures of spring Amelia, perhaps we should all follow the example of those twoBumblebees and snuggle up for warmth when the cold weather returns.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful photos ! Not many insects at the moment in our garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely post and photos. Even though we know it probably won’t last long, these mild sunny February days are such a bonus. I am amazed at how many early bees I have enjoying the flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful!


  13. What beautiful photos! I just love all the insect photos. And your garden is very inspiring.
    Thank you for visiting my blog today.

    Liked by 1 person

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