a french garden

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.


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.




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.

23 thoughts on “Beginning of February

  1. Your are definitely a bit ahead of us in terms of spring – great to see though. Thank you for mention and so glad to have lifted the spirits. Hope you are feeling much better.


  2. Lovely photos! It looks like you have had some warm weather at least intermittently. I haven‘t seen any bees or insects yet here – only hellebores for them in the garden and hazel catkins in the woods.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, and get well soon Amelia!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just read an article extolling the virtues of elderberries as a treatment for flu and I think coughs too….wrong time of the year for getting your own but maybe other sources available….hope you feel better soon!
    Enjoying hellebores too and hoping they will self seed this year…it’s been so mild this winter….bees seem to have been out and about most of the time especially the carpenter bee.
    Thankyou for your blog…I enjoy seeing what’s happening in your garden .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your good wishes. A friend extolled the virtues of thyme tisane or tea. I have thyme growing in the garden and I have been taking that with a bit of rosemary added for good measure (sweetened with honey, of course!). So far, I would say the virus is winning over the tea. I am glad I have found another hellebore fan. Amelia


  6. Marianne and I have also been struck down by that virus – endless coughing. You’re not alone. Amazed to see how advanced the garden is with you. We are going to look at our new house in France next week – and now I expect fruit blossoms! In Switzerland I see only twigs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, I am not acquainted with the bee. I met the speedwell already though. It had been here for a while, but really proliferated in the past few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Speedwell is one “weed” that is not too difficult to control in the garden. It rarely suffocates other plants and pulls out easily. It is not on my “Hate List”. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is sort of the impression that I got. However, it was rather shocking when it showed up everywhere so suddenly, as if it intended to be very invasive. It is an annoyance to see a new naturalized exotic, but in some spots, it is prettier than other weeds, and it really has not been too bothersome.


  8. Lovely photos. Your plum tree is very early. Hope you shake off the cold soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well the birds and the bees seem to think that it is spring but the weather could be better.. Hope your cold gets getter soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry to hear you are unwell. We have both been afflicted by this virus and I felt unwell and coughed for several weeks. It goes eventually so I hope you feel better soon.
    Your bee does look like an Andrena flavipes as far as I can see from this photo. That would be early but one was reported in Sussex this year on February 6th so odd things are happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sorry to hear you have been unwell too. This virus seems to have got around a fair bit this year. I think I have it on the run now. Thank you for your confirmation of the bee. February in Sussex seems a bit early for it, I hope they find enough flowers but I suppose if they don’t there will be a natural selection against the early bees. Amelia


  12. Beautiful spring photos, the cherry is a mass of blossom.
    Have you tried steam inhalation for your cough? It works well with eucalyptus oil and then honey, lemon and whiskey Cough medicine!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lovely to see your bees. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What beautiful photographs, wonderful post. Feel better, I too have a virus I can’t kick and have lost my hearing in my right ear from it, going on week four 😦 love the bees! I am so jealous of your hazelnuts!


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