a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

May in abundance


Robinier (2)

When we first started the garden each new plant that managed to flower was greeted with amazement and it received daily pilgrimages  so that we could wonder and admire it.

Robinier flowers

I must admit the Robinia (False Accasia) manages to still attract our attention with its perfume.


As does the Choisya in the different places in the garden.


The groups of Arum are in shadier spots, and with the rain this spring, have done remarkably well but I have just noticed the abundance of their flowers this year.


The cherries…


The plums and…


The raspberries are powering on, thanks to this warm, wet, thundery weather we are experiencing.


Of course, many thanks to the bumble bees for the sterling pollination service for our raspberries.  The little Bombus pratorum are great pollinators in the spring.  This one is a male so that means their season will be finishing soon.

Eaten rose

It’s not always good news in the garden.  The flowers and leaves of a rose (‘Madame Alfred Carrière’) were badly eaten.

Caterpillar (1)

I decided to look for the culprit.  Here it is on the stalks of the leaves it has eaten.

Caterpillar (2)

This angle gives you a better view and the little feet at the bottom LHS of the photo are a giveaway.  It was such a good camouflage I could not squash it.  I think it was just about ready to pupate anyway.

Broad beans

The broad beans have succumbed to ants and blackfly that stopped them reaching their full potential.  I still got a decent crop and I have finished the grueling podding and preparing and have frozen my booty.


We have decided we like the white Camassia we have in the pot, even though it was supposed to be dark blue.  I think they should really be planted out for next year in the garden but I will keep them in a pot for one more year and hope they will still flower.

Swallow on wire (2)

The swallows have returned and sit on the telegraph wire.

Swallow on wire (1)

They look fairly innocent and casual whereas, in fact, they are casing the joint.

Swallow in house

Leave the French windows open and in she comes!

Swallow on beam

We will have to stay vigilant until she chooses somewhere else.

We share the garden with nature but we draw the line at swallows nesting in the living room.

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.

29 thoughts on “May in abundance

  1. What you call an arum we call a calla lily in the US, the genus zantedeschia. I think that’s what you have. Apparently there are some that are hardy, and some not. When I lived in San Diego hardiness was not an issue. I’ve always liked them and will perhaps try to find some hardy ones. Your big green caterpillar is gorgeous, there are several of this type I think, and they turn into huge moths, notably the death’s head sphinx. Hate to kill them. One of them will eat your tomato plants! I had a dog that would pick them off and eat them. Your swallow is precious, but one cannot have it inside of course. I think they are my favorite birds. Thanks for a very interesting post!
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never knew the arum’s latin name, I just looked it up and it is Zantedeschia aethiopica. The ones around here are as tough as old boots. The leaves turn to slime if they get frozen and disappear in the winter to pop up in the spring. We have just planted the tomatoes so I hope the caterpillar does not have any tomato plant loving friends. That is an exceedingly useful habit for a dog to have. I am sure caterpillars could be very tasty eating all that lovely green veg. Amelia


  2. Your Robinia is lovely Amelia. I have only seen the wild ones here which have white flowers and the scent really is heavenly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have an Acacia too that has been grown from a collected seed. There are quite a lot of Acacia in the woodland around us. The flowers are beautiful and perfumed but as they flower at this time of year, some years they get destroyed by the rain and storms and last for too short a season. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • And the ones near us are so susceptible to late frosts. They are only just producing leaves here. Fingers crossed as the next few nights are forecast to be cold.


  3. Hello Amelia, Wonderful signs of late spring and what looks like an abundance of fruit in due course. I’ve always thought it’s a sign of a happy home if the swallows want to come inside! Even though you can’t allow it…
    Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robinia is so nice. It is one of the few species in which I actually prefer modern cultivars to the straight species. They are not so happy near the coast, but really appreciate the warmth of the inland valleys. Their main problem is their innate structural deficiency. They can get blown apart by the wind. The black locust is a naturalized weed here. I really like the fragrant white bloom and ‘woodsy’ structure of the tree, but the thorns and weedyness are nasty!

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    • The Acacia flowers get destroyed very easily by wind and rain. The bees love the flowers and a lot of people are very fond of Acacia honey. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • They are known primarily as acacia? I know them as locust, which is actually a rather vague name for several related genera.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The Robinia here are known as “Faux Acacia” which is quite correct as they are not acacia but look so similar apart from the colour of the flowers, they even flower at the same time.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The species name of the black locust is Robinia pseudoacacia, which strikes me as odd. All acacias here exhibit very bright yellow bloom. Most exhibit very finely textured foliage. Black locust is nothing like any of the acacia. I think that ‘acacia’ refers to several species and genera within the family, but I do not know. ‘Locust’ and ‘mimosa’ are likewise vague like that.

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          • Well, their latin name is Robinia pseudoacacia — go figure. False acacia it is. I had them at my house in the Herault, they were quite tall but with few side branches, and covered with aphids every year. You can guess where they ended up.
            bonnie inprovence

            Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve been looking into this more closely. Here the white-flowering wild trees are called Acacia, whereas they are your locusts which have been brought into France from as early as 1600. They are now widespread in the French woodlands. There are also garden varieties, like mine, with coloured flowers but these are just bred varieties for the garden of your locusts and are called, more correctly Robinia or False Acacia.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, that is how they are here. The black locust is what grows wild, and is sometimes used as undertock for the garden varieties. The garden varieties are much more docile, and lack thorns. The old sorts resembled the black locust somewhat, with pale pink flowers. The modern sort are like yours, with richly colored bloom and rounded canopies. They really are delightful trees. As an arborist, I just happen to see those that are problematic. (There is not need to inspect those that are not causing any problems.)

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I always let the black bean aphids share my runner beans – there always seem to be enough for all of us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here I am waiting for the furry B.pratorum males to emerge and appear on the raspberry flowers. It is always a sign of the turning of the year for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know much about Robinia, is a pink one unusual? I have camassia flowering in pots for the second year, they do need plenty of water.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just gone into that with Tony,above. It is very interesting. I just accepted the names given for the Acacia here as it is one of the few trees that everyone recognises here because of the beautiful perfumed flowers. They even make fritters of the flowers! However, the Acacia that is called Acacia here is in fact a Robinia (it would seem) brought into France as early as 1600 and now spread widely. The Robinia with coloured flowers is a garden variety of the same tree – or that is what it appears like to me.
      Would you think about feeding your camassia in pots?


  8. That is one cheeky swallow! You have me dreaming already of ripe plums and cherries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This year we are looking forward to the plums that should be plentiful. However, the cherries are another thing the birds seem to keep their eyes on them and come (with their friends) the moment they are ripe and we never get more than a few for ourselves. Amelia


  9. Fascinating! I love the caterpillar picture. They are soHard to spot normally. This is such a good photo I might try looking it up and see if I can identify it for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a quick look myself but I could not find anything convincing. I do not think rose leaves are a particularly sought after food source for caterpillars. Anyway it looked plain green with a white stripe on the side but I did not disturb it. Good luck! Amelia


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