a french garden


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The garden versus the heat

bougainvillier

Perhaps it’s not so much the garden versus the heat but the plants staving off the lack of rain.  I have not watered the Bougainvillea, the Lavatera and the winter flowering honeysuckle at the front of the house.  They are not happy but surviving.

Wilting Hollyhocks

Strangely, the Hollyhocks, which I regard as reasonably drought tolerant do not have the same resistance.

Colutea pods.JPGThe heat has not bothered the Colutea and the seed pods are particularly pink this year.

Leeks chick peas and sprouts

I have to water the vegetable garden but I have covered the roots of the tomato plants with straw.

Strawberries, courgettesThe courgettes are indifferent to the heat as long as they are watered and my “Sungold” cherry tomatoes on the wigwam are already producing ripe tomatoes.  The strawberries, though, have given up producing any quantity of fruit.

First tomatoesThe little tomatoes are hidden by the French Marigolds which are considered over here to prevent any diseases in the tomatoes.  Interestingly, we call them French Marigolds and the French call them Indian Carnations (L’œillet d’Inde) and as they originate from South America… Anyway, a friend gave me the seedlings and they certainly look attractive but as to the therapeutic value, I am undecided.

TomatoesAnother winner on the heat front are the cucumber plants.  The seeds were given to us by a friend and they produce small, exceptionally tender cucumbers that Kourosh eats as a fruit, as well as allowing some to find there way into the salad bowl.  The small cucumbers are very refreshing in the heat.

Chick peas

The chick peas, too, have taken a leap forward with the heat.  This is the first time I have grown them.  I bought the seeds and I was bitterly disappointed when they did not survive as I had used the whole packet.  Not to be fazed, Kourosh put his hand in the cupboard and handed me my jar of dried chick peas.  Now I feel a little foolish for not having thought of that in the first place.

I was intending to cook them if I managed to produce any but a friend told me he used to buy them in the green and eat them.  So I have tried one and it is delicious!  A bit like peanuts!  I have not got a lot so I think I might just eat them raw.

Butternut.JPG

I do try to grow only things that I will eat and can either be consumed rapidly or support being frozen.  I love Butternut squash and they have proved very reliable to keep.  Last year they remained many months in a cool area without spoiling and if anything we were a bit short.

Raised bed

To extend our potential production of Butternut we tried a raised bed last year and again this year but, as you can see, the results are not convincing.  Perhaps raised beds are not a good choice for this area with low rainfall.

Gourds

We have planted some decorative gourds which is perhaps a bit frivolous.

All these pictures were taken at 8 o’clock at night because the temperature touched 40 degrees centigrade in the garden yesterday (Tuesday, 23 July) and it was too hot to take photographs during the day.

Borlotti beans

I know the Borlotti beans would like more water but it is difficult getting around everything and I feel so guilty as the dried grass crunches under my feet.

Hydrangea umbrella

The ornamental plants are on very reduced rations.  Basically, new plants and some favourite plants get watered sparingly.  I do not want my Hydrangea “Saville Gardens” to die so the parasol will at least prevent the leaves from being scorched.

Sleeping senna

I collected Senna seeds from a beautiful plant in Spain and the seedlings look very healthy and at home in the heat.  I love the way that they close their leaves at night as if they are sleeping.

Water

Water is such a precious and limited resource.  We have several containers for water throughout the garden.  The bees claim this as theirs but there are others for the birds to drink and wash in.  As I write temperatures remain high but a storm is forecast for Friday so hopefully it will bring rain and cooler temperatures.

 


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Lavatera in the garden

Lavatera front of house

I have Lavatera at the front of the house.

Lavatera bottom of garden

I have Lavatera at the bottom of the garden.  In fact, it is an ideal plant for this area and I will have one anywhere I have a space in the garden.  The grey green leaves give a clue and it is indeed a well suited plant to withstand hot, dry summers.

It can get a bit untidy as its fast growth can take you by surprise.  It is not a long-lived shrub and we have already got a small shrub in waiting and some cuttings – just in case they are needed.  They root very easily and are not difficult to find homes for if you end up with an extra pot or two.

Lavatera Carpenter

Mine is a Tree Mallow but I have no idea of the species.  In French it is called Lavatère en Arbre or Mauve en Arbre – a very appropriate name as they are mostly this mauve colour.

They attract all sorts of pollinators, it is a Carpenter bee in the above picture.

Tetralonia from distance.JPG

However, it is at this time of year I love to check out the flowers in the morning and I often find what I think is a Tetralonia malvae bee still asleep in the flowers.

Tetralonia close.JPG

What surprises me is that she is not an early riser.  I took this photograph at 9.44 a.m.

Tetralonia v.close

You do not often get the time to get close up and photograph bees.  What appeals to me is that she is such a fluffy bee.  Her long feathery hairs on her hind legs look so silky but are perfect to transport caches of pollen to her nest.

Tetralonia with pollen

Once she starts collecting pollen the hairs are covered and take the colour of whatever pollen she might be gathering.  She is pretty faithful to the Malvaceae family but the pollen colours do vary.

Tetralonia in Guimauve

This is what she looks like gathering pollen from the Marsh Mallow.

Tetralonia in lavatera

So many reasons for growing Lavatera.

 

 


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Flowers of the moment

panorama back garden

The garden is still relatively green despite our higher than average temperatures and lack of rain.

Perennial sweetpeas-001

I have managed to have sweet peas for the second year, much to my surprise.  They are the perennial variety and have self seeded and caught me unaware, so I will just have to sort things out after they have finished flowering.  Perhaps next year I will be able to help them put on a better show.

Second flower Wisteria-001

The Wisteria is flowering for the second time and has had a sever trimming since this photograph was taken.

Hydrangia (2)-001

The mophead Hydrangea has supported the heat, up till now, although it looks a little sad in the evenings.

Hydrangia-001

Although the flowers of the Lacecap Hydrangea are pretty close-up, I think they are more difficult to appreciate from a distance as the flowers face skyward.  The mophead Hydrangea may be more common but I feel our mophead has more impact.

Foxgloves-001

The Foxgloves are mainly over but I will be collecting the seed and trying to increase them as they seem very happy in the garden and have put up a fine show this year.Larkspur 1-001The other star of our June/July garden is the Larkspur (Delphinium consolida).  I have found these grow best here if left to self-seed or sown in the autumn straight into the soil.

Larkspur (2)-001

They attract all sorts of pollinators and require no special care.  I get beautiful pale shades of pink and lilac but I have found that I must select the seeds of the white and the pale flowers or else it is mainly the dark blue flowers that take over.

Geranium-001

My geraniums have made themselves at home all over the garden and are quite happy in drier, shadier areas.  They are also a big favourite of the bumble bees.

Lavendar-001

The lavender is growing well and enjoying the hot sun we are experiencing at the moment.

Humming bird hawk moth-001

The hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) has been around for a while now and he visits the garden from early in the morning until the light is going.

Anthidium on Stachys-002

It is good to see the season visitors in the garden like the Anthidium manicatum bee on the Stachys.  Growing Stachys is a sure method to attract this bee to the garden.

Bottle brush-001

On the other hand the bottle brush (a Callistimon species) has not been the bee magnet that we had expected.

Magnolia-001

At the moment it is the Magnolia grandiflora that is the star of the garden.  It looks beautiful and smells divine.

…and of course the bees love it!  Have a look at this short video (30 seconds) to see the bees collecting pollen from the flowers.