a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

The October Garden


After months of drought now everything is wet!   The Nerine bowdenii has shot up with rain, totally unconcerned with the dry summer as it lay dormant underground.  But the petals are sodden.

The little cyclamen have pushed through undeterred by the dry summer.  Certainly autumn flowering bulbs and tubers are good drought resistant plants for the garden.

The bees go out for nectar and pollen when the rain stops but this poor bumble bee was quite soaked from the wet petals.

The Tulip tree or Liriodendron did not get watered during the summer but the autumn rains have been sufficient to allow it to put on its usual autumn show.

Since we have had rain the Chosia ternata “Sundance” has started flowering.  I find the Choisias do very well in the garden and as well as the C. ternata (basic?) I have a Choisia ternata “Aztec pearl”. which I prefer as I like the finer leaves.  Yesterday, I saw a Choisia ternata “White Dazler” in a nursery.  It was covered in white, very perfumed flowers that the bees seemed to be appreciating as much as I was appreciating the perfume.  I paused from purchasing as I do not have a place ready for it at the moment, and it was 35 euros.  Has anyone experience with this variety?

My Osmanthus heterophyllus “Goshiki” has also come through the summer to provide us with loads of perfumed flowers but it does live in a shady spot and did not have to withstand any scorching.

Today was sunny and in the low twenties Centigrade and it was so good to get into the garden after all the rain, even though the work to be done is a bit daunting.

The good thing about sunny days in the garden is that you are never alone.

Today a grasshopper joined us for morning coffee.

Then we were amused while we had lunch on the patio by the antics of another green insect.  This time better camouflaged, in amongst my potted Salvia uliginosa.

This is the Praying mantis doing her special photo pose, with me taking her from her best side.  They seem such clumsy creatures that do not seem to know quite what to do with such long legs.

Kourosh is a fan of Praying mantis and the insect did not object to being handled gently.  Some people keep them as pets.  I’m glad Kourosh seems to be satisfied with keeping his bees.

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.

21 thoughts on “The October Garden

  1. I love the mantids too. I tried Aztec Pearl here in the Vaucluse near Carpentras (several in fact) and they all slowly died. They were planted along a wall and I wonder if there was something in the soil. However one planted in another area died also. I may try the ordinary one and see how it gets on, as choysia has such a nice scent and would be good in my developing white garden.
    bonnie in mazan

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve found mine extremely tough plants and they have had rough handling and been moved. Now is a good time to plant them and give them time to settle in before summer. You may have to water them more the first summer during very dry periods. Good luck if you decide to try again. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I got very excited about choisia , the generic called Mexican Orange here. All my new friends had it growing in abundance in the lowlands. Meh! It lived a (year or two and died. It thrives in the mid to south of USA and we are not south! 😦 You have so much color going on Amelia, all our color now is in the falling leaves, which are amazing this year! Annie north east of Seattle.

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  3. Hello Amelia,
    Lovely photos, wonderful tulip tree colour and how special to have mantis in the garden – I’ve always thought they were very exotic. BTW might your other insect be a cricket and not a GH? Having looked at different GH’s here for the first time this year, I realised that we might get crickets as well – though I haven’t seen any, and they tend to have much longer antennae as your little fellow has.
    Best wishes

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  4. Hi Amelia. The insect on your table looks to me to be a Speckled Bush-cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima). Was it covered in fine dark speckles? If you don’t know the following web site, I recommend it: https://www.grasshoppersofeurope.com/. Daunting at first, but some fantastic photographs. Cheers, Malcolm. (And the Mantis is simply stunning).

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  5. Lovely post as usual, Amelia…. we have Aztec Pearl… but it doesn’t seem to like it here, very slow to get to any appreciable size… 6yrs old and 50cm high! In Leeds, it was wonderful…. and a bee and hoverfly magnet when in flower.
    Love the mantis shots… great posers!

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  6. Yes, loved the mantis photos!

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  7. Crickets, mantises… and do you ever find stick insects, Amelia? RH

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  8. Way back in 2012 I posted about one we had found in the garden https://afrenchgarden.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/french-stick-insect/. Well, I think it is a stick insect but you know I am no expert when it comes to identifying insects :). Amelia

    Liked by 1 person

  9. White Dazler does look good, €35 is quite a lot for a shrub. They always charge more for something a bit different or special.

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  10. First time seeing a Mantis this year up in Creuse. Funny guys.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What delightful cyclamen! I have grown only the florists’ cyclamen, which typically get discarded as annuals. I really dislike them for that, and want to take them all home to plant out in the forest. That would be too many though, and the bright white and red would look phony in the wild. I intend to eventually try the Cyclamen hederifolia and Cyclamen coum on a small scale, to see how well they do here. They would look nice in the redwoods.
    I don’t know that Choisia ternata ‘Sundance’ because I have just never tried Choisia here. It is well rated for our region, but I have never seen it do well.

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  12. The Cyclamen hederifolium are originally European but I see no reason why they would not do well with you. This year they were completely dried by the lack of rain and are planted at the base of trees where there is not much soil. They are very tough plants and self seed and will form new plants but only in the immediate area. They are not invasive. Amelia

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