a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

The flowers in November


The rain still continues and everything in the garden is wet.

It does not stop the bees and other insects flying in between the downpours.

The low light makes it difficult to take sharp photographs.

Everything is getting sodden.   Luckily, I have already gathered plenty of Cosmos and other seeds.  These are French Marigold (Tagetes erecta), that are late in setting seed and have stated germinating still attached to the flower heads.

I grew these flowers near my tomatoes this year.  They provided lots of colour in the vegetable garden and are reputed to attract beneficial insect such as hoverflies and at the same time the roots secrete a substance to repel certain nematodes.  I cannot affirm that they make a considerable difference but they are held in high esteem in this area.

There is still plenty of Borage left in the vegetable garden, and elsewhere, and that is a magnet for all pollinators.  It is also so handy for decoration of salads and drinks.

We always have a clutter of pots at our front coffee spot.  This allows us to keep an eye on the fragile and admire our favourite flowers of the moment.

The Salvias are in their glory at the moment, especially the Salvia leucantha.  We have one in a pot on the patio and another in the garden but they do not photograph well and you need to see a close up photograph to see what the eye actually sees.  The flowers look as if they have been fashioned from velvet.  They are constantly visited by the bees.  This carder bumble bee is piercing a hole in the flower to “steal” the nectar.

Another flower we are monitoring in a pot on the patio is the Ajania.  This is new to us this year and I am waiting impatiently to see if the flowers will open fully.  It has grown well and I am thinking of trying it as ground cover next year as it has grown well in the pot.

Some flowers get attention and care yet this Alyssum grows on its own every year, seeding into the cracks in the front path and the base of the wall.  It completely looks after itself and releases its own special honey scent in the warm evenings and is still flowering.

Perhaps tough love can work as I have succeeded in keeping two Abutilon plants.  They die completely from the surface in winter and reappear in late spring.  They are not too tall yet, but I have my hopes, and it is nice to have their flowers so late in the year.

The bees still manage to get out to forage for nectar and pollen despite the rain.  They have to “faire avec” as we all have to during these rainy days.

Thus saying, I was surprised to see a cricket perched on top of my pink rose in the front garden.  It does not seem a good place to be camouflaged from hungry birds. In addition, it is not very far away from our bird feeder.

More surprisingly it was still there the next day!  Is it the same one or is it cricket time?


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 flowers in November

  1. Envy–it’s an ugly reality at this time of year. Your beautiful late season flowers and bees are an inspiration. It’s November 1st, and we woke up to snow.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And —–we have had 4 nights of frost, an unusual event this early in the year. So few flowers survived, apart from fuchsia which we brought in to the house. They are back out now, and the hummingbirds are fighting over the flowers! The dahlias turned black overnight, and I missed picking the last of the scarlet runner beans! The plus side of early frost are so many glorious fall colors, and clear sunny days . Better than I remember, since we have lived here. Thanks for the colorful flower pics Amelia.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oops, should have said “season” not “year”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Is your Salvia leucantha living through the winter outside? Either the one in the pot or the one planted in the garden? I didn’t believe they were frost hardy, and I haven’t seen much of them around here near Carpentras/Avignon in the Vaucluse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, that is the question! It has done so well in the pot that we are going to split and replant half outside and cover the roots with straw. Half will stay in a pot in the old “poulailler” which has a clear plastic sheet in its tile roof. It survived there last year but we had a very mild winter. Most of my big Salvias die completely away in winter so I feel it is worth taking a chance. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s very wet here too and I see very few flowers. The only consolation is the colour of the autumn leaves especially when caught by the early morning sunshine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve never known such a period of constant rain as we are experiencing at the moment. The garden does look lush but the lack of light is difficult to put up with. Despite the heavy rainfall the water table levels are not back to normal. We are forecast continuing rain. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That is a lot of bloom for the rainy season. We are still waiting for rain.

    Liked by 1 person

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