a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

The garden versus the heat

15 Comments

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.

 

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.

15 thoughts on “The garden versus the heat

  1. I’m in the Vaucluse, near Carpentras, and the heat has been brutal. We have 3000 square meters of mostly ornamentals, we do not grow veg as there are so many small producers close to our house that we would prefer to support them. We love buying great veg from the person who grew it, from small cabanons on their property, not sprayed, reasonable prices. Amazing. We have a large “dry garden” with adapted and natives, and various areas in the garden which have ornamental plants, but adapted ones. Last year we watered those areas perhaps once a month (deeply) and the dry garden not at all. This year a lot of it would have died without our intervention. Terrible heat, not much rain. There is water here; the Canal de Carpentras, from the 18th century provides water for all of the market gardeners here, and also to private individuals. Fortunately we have this inexpensive source of water, which comes from Mt. Ventoux and the many rivers which flow from it. Without this water source, we would either have to drill a well, or just let a lot of things die. We put water out for the wild animals, insects and birds, as I worry that they also will be destroyed by the heat and lack of water. Many solitary bees and wasps can be found at our water spots. Good luck with your vegetable gardens, and I hope you have a source of water (perhaps a source!) that isn’t tied to the drinking water system.
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have made wise choices to keep your garden in a drought. It is only these past couple of years that we have had such dry years. Two years ago people were told to stop using the water from wells as the water table level was so low. We do have a well but we have never put a pump in it. We did not think that the cost of foraging a well and paying for a pump was worth it. Perhaps next year we will be complaining that we are having too much rain. Amelia

      Like

  2. My son has been working in France this summer and has found the heat a challenge! I’d not thought of using a parasol to protect plants but that’s a really good idea.

    Like

    • We are in the Charente-Maritime and summers are usually very pleasant with only the occasional over hot few days. I’ve never used the parasol before but the sun here is very strong and so far the parasol has helped. Amelia

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Your garden is doing remarkably well Amelia. The tomatoes look great! Much of my garden is in ‘survival mode’ too, simply not growing. I also try and water sparingly but have had a couple of panic attacks recently and got the hose out on my new beds! Thankfully we haven’t started our vegetable garden this year. I hope you get the rain and some cooler weather over the weekend. And I hope it comes our way too! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We aren’t even allowed to water our potager!
    And I love your parasol idea… I was toying with planting trees, but they will demand precious water from the potager plants…
    so have just purchased three rectangular parasols to use as occasional trees over the potager beds…
    We have Russian Sage that the insects of all sorts love… and that is really drought resistant… as is the lavender and the thistle like plant with blue balls for flowers… everything else, especially the shallow rooted, is looking a tad crisp!
    Whereas the drought resistant Lambs-Lugs that the carder bees love, are looking very sorry for themselves.
    (Sorry Amelia, these are not wild flowers.. and are therefore not in my vocabulary!)
    Something that seems to thrive in these conditions is Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) and in the dry ground is a devil to pull… but, each bit pulled is something less to feed the tap root!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have no water restrictions in force at the moment but I try not to waste water. It must be very difficult for you with the potager, if you grow things from seed you feel even more attached to them. I have Russian sage. It does well and expands but I do not see it growing tall like it does on some of the Municipal flower beds around here. Those are watered with waste water from the water purification sites so probably get more water than mine. I sympathise with the Convolvulus problem as I suffer with that, annoyingly the roots are easier to pull out if the soil is wet. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yesterday evening, I did water…. in advance of today’s ecpected rain.
        This property was a milker farm and we live in the old milking parlour… it had a slurry tank for the washings, fortunately… this is now an 18 cubic metre reservoir with the water from half the huge barn, half the equally large hangar and half the house roof plumbed into it… yesterday, I was really glad we’d spent the money getting it cleaned and plumbed in….
        BUT… it was quite a palaver getting it going, first time out of the box…. should have done the camping-style, tent dry run!

        The Convolvulous is really only a problem in the beds… elsewhere I let it go… the flowers are attractive and the insects love them.

        Like

  5. Oh my! That is warmer than it has been here. I did not know what 40 degrees meant, so translated it to Fahrenheit. Yuck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are experiencing unusual weather conditions. It is no fun for gardeners. Luckily we are near the coast and it is a lot easier to go to the beach and benefit from the Atlantic and hopefully some sea breeze. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We “discovered” butternut squash fairly recently and have been surprised how versatile it is as well as keeping into the winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We have a water tank of 3 000 litre collected from the roof during autumn and winter and it was very useful this summer. At the moment it’s enough. We have a manual pump and we can’t exaggerate in watering !

    Liked by 1 person

    • We don’t have any collection tank. We have considered it but the expense of purchase and the fitment has prevented us. Also we have such a low rainfall in the summer that I do wonder if it would make a difference to us and so whether it would be economical sound over using piped water carefully. Amelia

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s