a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Summer visitors


We are expecting most of our summer visitors, like this hoopoe, but when they arrive it adds a zest to the garden.  I suppose it gives a touch of exoticism to the garden as I have never seen them in the U.K. where they would be very uncommon visitors.  This year we have had a pair in the garden, perhaps they like the hot weather we have been having.

The young green Woodpecker has been visiting us lately and whereas we often here them we see them less often.  Perhaps they are less shy when they are young.

The birds do not have to be exotic to raise a smile, we like to see the blackbirds with their young.

We are pleased when the sparrows have raised their second brood.

The Redstarts keep us amused with their splashing in the water dishes.  They will take off at the end of the summer to the West African Sahel (that’s the bit that borders the Sahara, to save you looking up Wikipedia, as I had to.)

There are also the new finds like this Tussock moth that I cannot remember seeing before.  I think it has a bit of growing to do and it will probably support this growth by munching through some of our tree leaves.  The trees seem to have enough leaves to spare so I am not worried.  Let’s just hope it is not some new species that will now defoliate the entire tree cover in the Charente-Maritime.

When feeling endangered it curls up in a tight ball causing its rear tuft of hair to protrude.  It makes the tuft of hairs look very much like an extremely sharp beak and I am sure it will give most birds and predators pause for thought.

Kourosh found this bright blue beetle on the cut trunk of a tree in the garden.  Very eye catching and easy to find on the web.  It is a Rosalia alpina.  According to what I can find out, the adult can be between 15-38 mm.  So we must have got an extra large sample!

It was a very frisky specimen and I could not get it to stay in place inside my white box.  The larvae spend two or three years growing in dead wood so this is one of the species of insects that you could hope to support in a garden that left some dead wood lying around.  When trees are coppiced or pollarded this provides good sites for the females to lay their eggs, but as these practices are becoming more rare…

Of course, the Dasypoda bees mean summer time too.  I love to watch them bounce around from flower to flower.  Or rather, they are more measured in their flight, it is the flower heads that bounce around as they land and depart.  Soon she will fill up the silky hairs on her back legs with pollen and the fine hairs will be lost from sight amongst the heavy load of pollen.

One of our hives surprised us by swarming mid June.  It was co-operative enough to use the much favoured branch of our quince tree.

This let us get things sorted out quite quickly and the bees accepted their new home.

The young queen, who was left at home to start over and build up a new colony, is having a difficult time to get things going so late in the season.   Still, the departing swarm left her a super of honey so you cannot say that they were not generous.

We are not the only ones to receive visiteurs in summer, the bees get their share too.




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 “Summer visitors

  1. Wonderful range of wildlife Amelia, and I particularly liked the exotic looking beetle,
    best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How lovely to have such gentle, entertaining and charming guests. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating to see that large swarm on the branch, and to see other visitors to your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely post as usual… is the spider in the last picture waiting for one of your bees… or the Painted Lady.
    Your longhorn seems to have three distinct groupings…. your area, the Pair’o’knees and over towards the Alps…
    apparently it is presence is a probability here… so I must keep my eyes open.
    Like you, I am concerned about the current logging practices… around here, even the smallest twigs are being ground up for woodchip for chauffage. It isn’t good… not good at all.

    This is the INPN link for your beetle: https://inpn.mnhn.fr/espece/cd_nom/12348


  5. Now that is a question says the spider to the fly, “If you were a bee…?). Amelia


  6. Very interesting panorama of your wildlife. I saw my first Dasypoda last week, a very beautiful bee. We have many painted ladies about at present after an influx.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoy watching the birds in the garden, we don’t have summer visitors in the garden but house martins, swallows and swifts darting above fly catching.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your blogs! We live in La Creuse where it’s cooler but even so we have been visited by the African Hoopoe in summer. This was a wonderful sighting for us as we come from South Africa where they are very common. I like to think that they are coming to bring us tidings from our friends and family we left behind!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are in the same region now! That said, I am not very familiar with La Creuse. I can imagine it must have been lovely seeing the Hoopoe as an old friend coming to visit. We saw more in the garden this year and there was a pair that visited together. They still feel very exotic to me.


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