a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Isolation in the garden


Back potager

The vegetable garden remains untouched although it is not from want of time as we are now in our third week of isolation.

Back plum tree-001

Despite the unprecedented events in the outside world the large plum tree fills its branches with leaves to provide shade.  This is a favourite spot for outdoor eating, but when will be able to eat again under its leaves with friends and family?


We are never the less so grateful for the warm weather and sunshine that allows us to watch as the tulips take over from the daffodil bulbs.  It is an unsettling feeling as I think of so many people obliged to stay in appartements or who find themselves alone.

Cerinthe (1)

I stalk my bees and find the Cerinthe are the noisiest flowers at the moment.  They are a great place to see the Anthophora, like the one above.

Cerinthe (3)

The Cerinthe are a great favourite with all the queen bumble bees at the moment.

Cerinthe (5)

I love these teddy bear shaped bees and remember searching in vain to discover what sort of grey bumble bee it was, and being so puzzled to discover that bumble bees did not come in grey.

Red dead nettle

Outside in the wild, Anthophora (and bumble bees) love red dead nettle, so it is a good time to see them at the moment.

Borage (2)

Only the Borage can attract similar numbers of bees just now.

Broad beans (2)

Our broad beans are doing very well this year.  I plant the seed in the autumn and often the young plants get hit by winter frosts but this year was the first year that we have had no sub-zero frosts in the garden.

Broad beans (3)

The broad bean flowers are a magnet for pollinators.  The Carpenters, like the one above, are particularly fond of them but all the bees come for nectar.  The beans are setting but the ground is getting dry as we have had no rain for some time.

Back walk

This has been our wettest winter and early spring.  The river at the bottom of the garden is still full of water.  Our daffodils put on a good show but it was too wet to enjoy them when they were at their best.

Hellebore (1)

Some plants seem more value than others.  Our Hellebore are still blooming in the shadier spots, they first started flowering at the beginning of February.

Hellebore (3)

When the flowers start to produce seed, the petals lose their colour but I still find them attractive with the softer hues.

Lily beetle (2)

I made an unpleasant discovery in the garden.  A lily has been infected by the lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii).  The only way to get rid of them is to squash them until they pop.  I recommend using some kitchen towel to perform the dirty deed.  It is best to surround the plant with a white paper kitchen towel because if you drop one, it will lie on its back and you will never find it on the ground.  I did this on three consecutive mornings and I have got rid of this infestation but I am sure others will follow and I am keeping my eyes on them for the moment.

Coronilla (4)

The Coronilla is another worthwhile shrub that is still flowering and providing nectar for the bees.

Coronilla (7)

Even very little ones.

Eleagnus umbellata (2)

In February 2017 we bought 10 Eleagnus umbellata for 1.71 euro each from the Pepiniere Bauchery online.  We planted 7 and gave 3 to friends and this year we are reaping the rewards.  They are pretty, small trees which survived well the drought of last year to flower profusely with these attractive white flowers, to the delight of the bees.


Not all our trees have survived.  One of our two quince trees is dead and a young self sown plum tree that we had transplanted the previous autumn.


After the intense heat and drought of last summer, I decided to grow more succulents in the pots and they have survived well through the winter.

Osmia cornuta (3)

Our Osmia cornuta continue their nest building oblivious to the trials outside in the human world.

Keep cool

We just follow the example of our little tree frogs and stay peaceful in the calm of the garden.



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.

25 thoughts on “Isolation in the garden

  1. Ahh, now I know the name of the red tailed masonry bee, thank you! Yes three weeks of being locked in the garden does feel like an indulgent punishment. Stay busy and well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing photo of the frog: it looks almost like an ornament! You obviously have a very big garden with plenty of places to walk and it must be so peaceful to walk by that river.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The garden is big and we have plenty of space to walk around and also always lots to do. Being confined to our house in this weather is not the problem it is for other people or for all the wonderful people caring for the sick and for their back-up staff that assure the hospitals are clean and we have food and emergency services available. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, we are lucky to have a garden ! I’m thinking of people who live in a flat, (one of my daughter in Madrid ! where the situation is terrible) and the staff in hospital, many thanks to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our son is alone in a flat in Malaga. He says people are behaving well and taking it very stoically. At least he has a small balcony. It really is like a war and we appreciate everyone on active service helping the community in general whether it is in hospitals, supermarkets, in transport or working from home under difficult conditios. Amelia


  4. Many thanks for another lovely blog post. Our garden is smaller than yours but still full of spring flowers and associated wildlife. We are also able to walk to our allotment, just three minutes from home. Cold and sunny now here in Norfolk, with hail showers, after a warm week spent mostly outdoors in the garden. (We are so lucky!) Lovely frog photo. We don’t get Osmia cornuta this far north (yet) but we were hoping to go to London to see them – that’ll have to be another spring.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Definitely. The allotment is a real lifeline, providing fresh food and a place to go away from home. We normally grow a lot of our own food – we still have last year’s shallots and potatoes (enough until May) stored in a shed in our garden. We are on sandy soil and rainfall is low here, so salads only really work in spring and we’ve given up growing peas because they hate the intense late June heat. Luckily there is a water supply at the allotment (and we have lots of rainwater butts, though that’s never enough). This year also growing some salads in containers at home, where we can look after them more easily (and in case of further lockdown). The garden has quite a few perennial edibles but is primarily for ornament and wildlife. Take care & all the best, Jeremy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So that explains why my pea harvest is dodgy. Our best food plant here (after tomatoes and broad beans) is pumkin – butternut or pottimarron. I find they store well and are very versatile (soups and roasted are my favourite). Amelia


      • Tomatoes have to be number one – we have two greenhouses which are full of lots of heritage varieties (from Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library) in summer. Squashes are favourites for us too. All the best, Jeremy.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the lovely pictures and glad to hear you are getting on OK in this extarordinary situation. Are the grey Anthophora the plumipes species but in a different colour. The carpenter bees are very beautiful with their blue wings.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That is unfortunate about the quince tree. I am surprised by it anyway. They seem to be so rare. I know of no one else who actually grows them intentionally. I got mine from an old tree I grew up with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel that it must have been attacked by disease, perhaps weakened by the drought. I use the quince in cooking, it has many advantages over apple and I grew it because they are often difficult to source. The one tree should be enough for me. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • One tree is quite productive. I got two copies of mine just in case one did not survive. When they both survived, one was relocated to another garden. When we were kids, the lady who grew them used to cut them in half and bake them with sugar on top where the seeds and core got cut out, like a single serving apple pie. I intend to do the same, although I really wanted the fruit to mix with apricots and other fruits that lack pectin, so that they make jam.


  8. Lovely pictures and you are so lucky to have such a big garden – we are missing our French garden stuck here in the UK – So jealous 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fantastic pictures, it’s a great place to spend the day during the lockdown.


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