a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


21 Comments

Mid January in the garden

The constant rain that was the garden’s lot before Christmas has eased up.  The temperatures have only teased around zero from time to time and the sunny days are rare but something that brings cheer.

When the sun does shine it is not the flowers but the willows (Salix alba “Chermesina”) that light up the garden.  I planted them in January 2014.

I was so optimistic about the effect my Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus praecox) would have in the garden when I planted it in February of 2015.  I planted it not too far from the back door so that I could enjoy the perfume.  It took util last year to flower and whereas the perfume is striking sampled from close, I do not find it wifts any distance as do my other perfumed shrubs.

It did not start flowering until last year and I find at this time of year the flowers become damaged in the rain.

Perhaps it is not happy.  I admit it is in a fairly shady spot in the summer and if any one has any ideas how I can improve its performance, I would love to hear.

The Winter Sweet cannot compete with the density of flowers on the Viburnum tinus which started opening in December.

All these flowers attract the bees and provide very valuable pollen.

Quantity is important when attracting pollinators and although the Anisodontea is still producing flowers of a very good quality, they are not attracting the number of insects they do in the summer.

This large clump of heather (Erica darleyensis) is always well visited but I have several other newer and smaller clumps around the garden but they do not receive the same attention – just yet!

Only the tips of the Mahonia are in flower now and the berries are beginning to set.

I thought the Japanese Medlar (Eriobotrya japonica) would have finished by now but I could still smell the perfume and found several still flowering bunches in the more sheltered areas of the tree.  It has been flowering all December and is worth its place in any garden solely for the perfume.

As one plant finishes its flowering season another one starts.  This primula is a bit quick off the mark.

But the prize for precocity (or stupidity) goes to the apricot tree – already in flower.  We planted our fruit trees as soon as we bought the house, with little knowledge but great enthusiasm.  I wish we had had the knowledge at that time to look for fruit trees more suited to this area.  We bought them tempted by the pretty pictures on their labels.

Our plum tree, we inherited, although it was very small and it flowers very early, it usually provides a great source of pollen and nectar for the pollinators and very good eating and cooking little plums.  It seems as determined this year to get going as soon as possible.

The winter flowering honeysuckle will keep the pollinators happy until the early fruit trees are in flower.

The bushes are not too high and so provide lots of entertainment watching the bees gather pollen.  The honeysuckle roots fairly easily and we have taken cuttings to give us now five bushes around the garden.

At the moment there is a lot of blue Speedwell (Veronica spp.) in the grass and the bees visit these tiny flowers.  They must have good nectar as this bee looked quite comical pushing its way into a flower that was not completely open.

I was surprised to see this wild bee on the Speedwell.  You can see how small she is as she fits comfortably into the little flower head.  I tried to see what she might be as I had managed to catch sight of the slit at the end of her thorax so I suspected the Halictidae family.  Steven Falk writes that bees in this group often nest underground and some have communual nests and even primitive eusocial communities.  So she could possibly be a fertilised queen getting ready to start her new brood.  Or are they like the bumble bee queens that come out of their shelters during the favourable days of winter to restock on fresh nectar?


7 Comments

El Parque del Oeste

I am taking a side step here away from gardening and following Kourosh’s lead on the artwork we saw in Malaga.

The Parque del Oeste leads down to the sea to bisect the coastline at right angles.

 

Being so close to the sea it is not surprising that the statuary often has a nautical theme.

Mermaids…

or sirenes can be found in the long pools.

But often the statues can be difficult to classify.  To me this is a female with a pigeon’s head and a pelican tucked under her arm.

Normally, rather stand-offish about art, I found that the statues were very amusing and their appeal grows with familiarity.

In addition, the statues are not confined to the pools but you come upon them as you pass through the park.  The llama is very appealing and a favourite mount for young visitors while proud grand parents take their pictures.

The little donkey is close by under an olive tree and I feel all the local children must have a photograph of them beaming astride the donkey.

Some of the statues are of a more mythical flavour and I would call this one the winged Minotaur.

This is clearly a snail and it appears to have attracted a drove of adoring turtles.

Some of the statues take you be surprise like this pig’s head poking out of a porthole in a cement wall.

This shadow scene has no problem in using a plain wall to make an impact.

What I see is the fun that the sculpter wished us to enjoy in the park with his statues of his musicians.

Is this an anteater with a lobster claw snout?

Is this a winged sewing machine?

I could go on but I’ll leave you with my favourite.  The Audiobook Reader.

Not all the statues are attributed but all the ones I saw were attributed to Stefan von Reiswitz.

I have not found out much about this artist apart that he was German but chose Malaga as his home and died in May 2019 at the age of 87.

 


7 Comments

A View of Andalusia

Happy New Year to you all.  I do hope that this new year and the new decade will bring much happiness to everyone.

Amelia and I spent the holidays visiting my son in Andalusia, Spain, at Malaga.  On first of January the sun was shining beautifully and the temperature in the shade was about 18 degree C (65F).

Malaga 01.01.2020

There were even a few hardy people (must have been British!) who swam in the sea.

Malaga (03) 01.01.2020

The public WCs along the beach have always caught my eye.  The imagination and the artistic inspiration of the Spaniards impresses me.

IMG_20200103_144414

The outside walls of the buildings were decorated with beach scenes.

IMG_20200103_144423

Why should such ordinary buildings not be decorated?

IMG_20200103_144355

The WCs were clean and clearly newly painted.

IMG_20200103_144453

I think they would amuse the children as well as the adults.

IMG_20200103_144529

It was not only the WCs, but many of the recycling bins near the beach were also decorated.

IMG_20200102_172200

One last memory for me was the sign on one pet grooming shop in Malaga which did make me laugh.

IMG_20200102_125757

Have a wonderful 2020.

    •  Kourosh