a french garden


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New plants, new places

Spring continues to be mild with plenty of rain to support the abundant new growth.  The large plum tree on the right has finished flowering and has started to put on leaf.

The willows are still bright but I am keeping my eye on them as the leaf buds are just visible and soon they will have to be reduced to stumps providing lots of canes.  More than I will be able to use.

The flowers of the apricot trees stand out on the bare tree discretely.

I have seen the first flower on the Cornus mas.  My plants are quite young but I am hoping for a better show this year.

The Coronilla glauca has more flowers and the ever green leaves a good addition to the hedge.

The Eleagnus ebbingei has produced a good crop of berries this year.  I have read that all the Eleagnus varieties have edible berries (I said edible not tasty) so I will have to have a nibble when they are ripe.

We have another plum tree in flower at the moment.  It is only small and is a shoot from a yellow plum tree that died and had to be cut down.  It is probably a shoot from the root stock and it will be interesting to see if we get any plums from it this year and what kind they will be.

We removed the vines from an area at the top of the garden to create another sitting area.  In the autumn we planted a Pyrus calleryana “Chanticleer”.  This tree has long been a favourite but we had not got a good position.  With the removal of the vines, we decided we could at last have this tree.  It has already produced some flowers but it will take some years before it will put on a show in the spring and shine in its autumn colours.

We have also been tempted to plant the ornamental apple tree Malus coccinella.  It too is quite small.

The little tree has managed to hold onto the little apples that are both decorative and hopefully feed the birds in winter.  I would be interested to hear from anyone with this tree on how keen the birds are on these fruits.

I grew this Loncera nitida from some small cuttings I took some years ago.  I have been very pleased with it as a ground cover plant and I have been transplanting rooted growth to areas I want to cover.  I hope these rooted transplants will take more quickly as the little white flowers are very attractive and much appreciated by the bees just now.

Elsewhere. the Hellebores continue to provide lots of colour.

They mix well with the heather and daffodils and provide good ground cover in the summer time.

The male Osmia cornuta continue to patrol the bee houses but it will be at least another two weeks before the females will come out, I think.  In the meantime they keep dry in the empty bamboo tubes when it is cold and wet and take nectar breaks when it is sunny.


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Spring in February

For the moment the garden has decided it is opting for full on spring.

We have not really had a winter yet.  The borage decided to keep on flowering this year.  The bees did not complain.

The colour is supplied by the Camelias and everywhere the Mimosa trees are in full bloom.  That is everywhere but in my garden as I do not have the patience to deal with all the shoots they push up around their trunks.  The bees just have to go a bit further to find them in neighbours gardens.

Next door’s sheep have been producing a good crop this year, mostly twins.

My first Osmia cornuta arrived on the twelfth of February.

By the next morning lots of male Osmia were already checking out the holes in the bee holes hoping to find a female.  They will have to wait some time yet.  In the meantime they rest in the holes when they are not hungry or it is cold.

How many bees can you see in the photograph above?

I can see five.  Four in/on the log and one (rather blurred) sitting on the wall to the right of the bee house.

It is a delight at the moment watching the bees enjoy all the spring flowers.

This year I am enjoying finding the different hybrids of my self-seeded hellebore.

I still love my original dark purple…

but I like the variety of this delicate small petal variation.

The big pussy willow at the bottom of the garden is just starting to display pollen and as the plum tree nearer the house is starting to finish flowering, the bees will transfer their allegiance to the willow from next week, I think.

Next week I will be keeping my eye on the Japanese medlar and I wonder with this mild weather whether we will have medlar fruit this autumn for the first time.

Whatever happens the garden always keeps you guessing.


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Beginning of February

February sees me still struggling with a ‘flu/virus that I cannot seem to shake.

However, last Saturday I read Murtagh’s Meadow and she informed me that the first of February was Saint Brigit’s day and was considered by many in Ireland to be the first day of Spring.  Physically this made no difference to my cough but it did considerably lift my spirits.

IMG_3174-001

The hazlenuts outside of the garden are in flower and for the first time I saw bees gathering pollen from their catkins.  I have never seen this inside the garden and I have a sneaky feeling that our bees prefer other pollen.

Bee on Hellebore (1)-001

The Hellebore have started to open and get a lot of attention from the bees when the sun shines.

Bee in white Hellebore-001

I started with dark purple ones from my sister’s garden and bought some white ones little by little.

White Helllebore-001

The Hellebore self-seed liberally and I do my best to recuperate as many as I can.  I am hoping to get lots of crosses like the one above, but it takes time for the plant to mature and flower.  I am just getting to the fun part of the exercise.

Bumble bee on Hellebore-001

They seem ideal plants for me as they provide ground cover and will survive drying out and quite severe conditions during the summer.

Bee on snowdrop-001

I’ve struggled growing snowdrops but I now have an established clump in a very strange uncared for spot at the bottom of the garden.  I’ve never managed to grow them close to the house where they could be seen and enjoyed even in inclement weather.  Fickle flowers!

Plum tree

The plum tree is beautiful at the moment and full of all sorts of pollinators on the sunny days.  It is good to just stand underneath it and listen to them.

Plum tree canopy-001

It feels so good to go underneath it and look through the canopy of flowers – but it does not cure a cough.

Bee on plum blossom-001

I think the easy pickings on the plum tree distracts them from the less generous hazelnut trees.

Tree frog-001

In the meantime, I will take the example of our little green tree frog that finds a comfy spot to enjoy the winter sun whenever he can.

Bee on Speedwell-001

I still keep an eye on the Speedwell which is growing in the grass, happy in the moist spring conditions and untroubled by the lawn mower, yet.

Wild bee (1)-001

I have not seen the pretty grey wild bee again but this bee looks like an Andrena flavipes but if it is, she is flying a month earlier than Steven Falk suggests they might fly in the U.K.

Any comments or identification will be welcome.