a french garden


23 Comments

The garden in the longest days

The hours of sunlight at the moment are at their annual peak.  It made me wonder what are my favourite plants in the garden at this time.  Obviously I can spend a long time watching the action on the lavender when it is sunny.

Our Fuchsia has become immense and performs a sterling service covering a difficult part of the front garden.

It has provided several babies that are well on their way to perform the same service in the back garden.

They are always full of bumble bees and so keep the garden from being too quiet.

The everlasting sweet pea plants seed themselves into the same area.  I love these as I have never been able to grow the more conventional sweet peas that do so well in the U.K.

The Larkspur comes up in shades of blue, white, pink and pale lilac wherever it has found a free patch of ground and I cannot imagine summer without them..

My Hydrangia this June is putting on a surprisingly good show having been well supplied with rain, for a change.

I do have some plants that do not attract bees.   The Pierre de Ronsard was one of the first flowers to be planted.

It was my husband’s choice for outside the front door.  This year it has been beautiful.  Once again, the plentiful rain must agree with it.

I have planted a number of Hypericum and the bright yellow flowers are lighting up a number of spaces that were dull.  These have improved the summer garden.

However, I think the stars of the summer garden are the Malvaceae, like the Lavatera above.

Hollyhocks are emblematic of the Charente Maritime and I try to have as many as I can squeeze in the garden.

This picture was taken just after 7 o’clock in the evening and already the Tetralonia malva bees were settling down for the night inside the Hollyhock.

I often find them still abed up to 9 o’clock in the morning, so I must have plenty of Hollyhocks to provide them with shelter and me with the fun of finding them.


21 Comments

Accepting choices in the garden

This is one of my arch enemies.  The snail is less voracious in the dry, summer weather when it lies in wait under plants or stones.  Otherwise, they can munch through a freshly sown line of parsley in one night.

At 6 o’clock in the evening the other day I saw a snail walking up our wall at eye level.  It was not raining and it seemed a curious behaviour.

On closer inspection, I noticed the snail was not alone.  I recognised one of my friends – a glow worm larva.

I never realised how voracious the larva could be, nor how persistant.  The larva nibbled the snail’s antenna causing the snail to curl up in a bid to escape.

The snail fell off the wall and broke on the stones beneath with the glow worm larva firmly attached.

Twenty four hours later the feast was still continuing.  The adult female glow worm does not eat and I am sure this one must have absorbed enough protein for its metamorphosis into the adult glow worm.

The same evening I checked the garden to see if there were any female glow worms signaling for mates.  There were.  I apologise for the poor photograph ( I have slightly better here, here, and here.

Seeing the fairy-like lights flashing in the night after dark in the summer is something I treasure.

But what if there were no snails in my garden?  What if I could somehow eliminate them and grow my parsley in peace?

Then no snails, no summer fairy lights.  I have to accept that to live with the snails has its benefits.


20 Comments

The poppies are finishing

The poppies self-seed all over the garden, front and back, even in the cracks of the path.

The Californian poppies, Eschscholzia californica, look very gaudy in our garden and I do not find that they attract as many bees as the red wild poppies.

When the bees do go onto the Californian poppies, the pollen that they gather is a beautiful deep yellow/orange.

The favourite poppy for all the bees is the showy oriental poppy, a variety of Papaver somniferum but I find these pass over only too quickly, much to our regret and that of the bees, I suppose.

The common red poppies are called ” coquelicot in French and their botanic name is Papaver rhoeas.  Not all the red poppies are completely red, the photograph above shows a light white touch on the outer edge of the petals.

Some have vivid red markings in their centre and some have black pollen which can easily be seen in the cells of the honey bee hives at this time of year.

Some have frilly edges.

But all the poppies are loved by the bees for the pollen whether they are the wild bees like this Amegilla or honey bees from kept hives.

The slight differences in colourations like the different outer petals of this poppy…

the white border on this poppy were noticed by the Reverend William Wilks.  He also noticed coloured variants and from 1880 he tried by selection to produce colourful varients of the wild poppy.  These are called Shirley poppies because he was the vicar of Shirley in England.

There are also Iceland poppies, Papaver nudicaule, which are also coloured and can be bought as seed.  I have never tried any of these.

I think I will try and buy some Shirley poppy seed for next year to see what colours will come up.  I would be interested in anyone’s experiences with their poppy growing.