a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Grey Skies


We have had our first frost of the year.

The frost is supposed to give flavour to the brussel sprouts.

However, the heavy rain has flattened them.

The leeks are starting to rot in the sodden ground.

The river Seudre at the back of the garden has filled up and only usually reaches this level in the springtime.

The plants themselves are confused after the hot dry summer.  The bottle brush has decided it might like to flower again.

My tall dark sage is still in bud and I do not think will flower this year.  The Charente Maritime area is one of the sunniest in France but this autumn it has been clouds and rain and I have missed the garden.

The Cerinthe major has found it perfect for self-seeding and I have been able to pot up plenty of little plants without the need for sowing any seeds.

The olive tree has been harvested.  It has given us less than last year but enough for our own needs.  Actually it only gives olives on the half of the tree that gets most of the sun, the other side does not get sufficient sun to produce the fruit.

Part of the front garden was covered with these “weeds” which I thought were allium bulbs last year.  I thought I must have forgotten planting them but they are not decorative alliums as they produced no flowers (that I saw).  They smell strongly of onions and are very invasive.  The roots seem to be able to elongate and produce new nodules vegetatively.  Does any one have an idea of what they might be?

The future looks wet.  I must learn to relax and accept the weather like our little tree frogs.

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.

20 thoughts on “Grey Skies

  1. Your “weeds” definitely sound like an Allium. There are many species, but here in the east of England the two most likely candidates would be Few-flowered Garlic, Allium paradoxum (see https://wildflowerfinder.org.uk/Flowers/G/Garlic(FewFlowered)/Garlic(FewFlowered).htm) and Three-cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum (see https://wildflowerfinder.org.uk/Flowers/G/Garlic(ThreeCornered)/Garlic(ThreeCornered).htm).

    Both have an oniony/garlicky smell. They can form large patches in a suitable place. The former covers a shady hillside in one of my local cemeteries. I have the latter in my garden, where it isn’t too invasive (yet) but I’ve seen masses of it on a bird reserve on Mallorca, forming a understorey that looked and smelt like white, garlicky bluebells.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had a look and I think that it must be the Few Flowered Garlic. One source commented that it had origins in the Middle East. I also found an article saying that it has become invasive in some parks and gardens in France. It is edible but I would never risk putting it into a vegetable garden as I think it would be too difficult to control. Thank you for the spot! Amelia

      Liked by 2 people

      • My parents gave me something similar (perhaps even the same). I should have quietly binned it but I’m hoping that it doesn’t like conditions in my garden and fails to thrive.

        Anyway, I tried to find out which allium it was and narrowed it down to one of these suggested above. Hope yours won’t become a bother, Amelia.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is better than I would have done. I can see that they are Allium some sort but can’t get much past that. Ramps are more tapered between the bulbs and leaves, rather than with a constricted neck.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think that they have come from outside. Up until now I would have been very loath to weed out anything that had a little bulb attached as I presumed It was something I had planted. Why is it my Allium cernuum (which I loved) disappeared after only one glorious season? Amelia

          Liked by 1 person

          • I am not familiar with that Allium, but it seems to me that since it is popular for (non-native) naturalizing in the coastal ranges here, that it likely prefers well drained soil that is dry for part of the year. (There are plenty of clay soils here, but they get no rain through summer.) It might be sensitive to rot in dense or dam soils. I am sorry that I am not acquainted with it.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Not even a solid frost can help the taste of brussel sprouts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, that made me smile on a grey day! I love sprouts! I always cook extra so I can keep them in the fridge to eat cold! Isn’t it funny how we can have such different tastes? I actually wonder if it is not something physically different with us. I find gooseberries and some varieties of mulberries have an aftertaste I dislike yet my husband does not taste it. Amelia


      • I’ve read that the taste for brussel sprouts is genetically determined. My sister, though, has learned to love them. She keeps trying to feed them to me. That argues against genetic predetermination, but not necessarily in favor of trying brussel sprouts.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no! Brussel Sprouts, roasted with chestnuts, good olive oil, a dash of Herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Just to die for! We are getting them on the stalk at the moment. Yum!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It has been a terribly wet autumn all over Europe. The old gardening books use to recommend planting sprouts very firmly,even staking individual plants. Perhaps they new more than we do even without global warming!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s rain, rain, rain here too. As for the brussels sprout question, here’s one I prepared earlier so to speak: https://philipstrange.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/brussels-sprouts-are-for-life-not-just-for-christmas/

    Liked by 1 person

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