a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Dry garden

18 Comments

Yesterday the temperature was 38 degrees Centigrade (100.4 F.) and it was not only the plants that were suffering from the heat.  The vegetable patch gets watered daily as we have had no rain for such a long time.  I also water some of my favourite plants but the trees have to make do and the apples are dropping.

One of my favourite shrubs is my Eucryphia nymanensis.  the flowers are lightly scented and moderately attractive to pollinators.  I planted mine in November of 2015 and it can grow to 8 or even 15 metres, according to some sources, if it is happy in its position.  Mine is only surviving as it does not get the moist, rich, slightly acid soil that it is said to enjoy.

Still it is giving me plenty of lovely flowers and I do not really want such a big tree anyway.

Another plant that gets tough love from me is my Thalictrum delavayi.  It had been completely overshadowed by the olive tree, so although it likes some shade, I moved it so that it at least could have some light.  That was last year and it seems to be thriving.

The flowers are delicate and attract the bees.

In fact, everything is delicate about this plant – even the leaves.

I spotted one of my favourite bees on the lavender this week.  It is a Tetralonia (3 submarginal cells, for those that care) probably a male Tetralonia dentata.

I’ve never seen him on the lavender before but his huge green eyes and long antenna make him very appealing to me.

Our honey bees are doing well and appear very busy.  This sunflower field is not long from the garden and I am amazed that the sunflowers can grow with so little rain.  There has only been 2 m.m. of rain in total this July.

I can see the bees on the flowers but I wonder how much nectar they can find in plants so starved of moisture.

We have to have patience until we do our honey harvest in the second half of August.

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.

18 thoughts on “Dry garden

  1. Do you feed your bees during dry times? I have always resisted it, because I don’t like to feed them sugar. But an extended drought could have me singing a different tune. I watch the honey supply all summer, to see if they are delving into winter stores. I don’t care if they eat “my” honey, but I’ll feed them sugar-water if it looks like they’ll use what’s needed to get through a Michigan winter.

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    • We have never given them syrup during the summer but I can see what you mean. We do find they are very thirsty and have some large containers with stones and water for them. They like an expanse of water with plants and stones for them to sit on while they drink. Amelia

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  2. Not a lot of rain in Brittany but the grass is still green in the garden.
    But we have to water from time to time the vegetable plot… The temperature are not so high and the sky can be cloudy 2 or 3 days a week. It seems we are lucky….

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  3. I love the Thalictrum Family, so many beautiful plants. Do you know if the sunflower seeds are used for human consumption or bird food? A lot is grown here for wild bird food.

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  4. The tetralonia in your picture is a beautiful bee, especially the green eyes

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  5. I’m glad you like him too! He is only around for a short time in the summer. Amelia

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  6. It has been so hot and dry here too, with wind to make things worse and with barely more than a few spots of rain in the last four weeks… until today! I hope you get some soon too. We were so relieved and the garden was too. Your Thalictrum looks so pretty. I haven‘t got enough shade for one yet, but one day I would like to grow them again. Love your green-eyed bee!

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  7. Sunflowers are beautiful and amazing. I hope you get some rain soon.

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  8. Thank you. None forecast before another week :(. Another very hot week has been forecast. Amelia

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  9. I’ve learnt something! I didn’t know male bees foraged, thought if you saw a bee out and about it must be a girl. Your weather sounds bad. Is drought usual for you country this time of year? Here in the Australian mountains getting a lot of winter rain, no snow. The news here today is full of stories about floods in various coastal areas. Climate change?

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    • The summers in recent years have been very dry and there are problems with the water table level that people blame on agriculture, that is deforestation for arable land and watering crops such as maize.
      About the bees…Often when people talk about bees they mean honey bees, which is sad for they are only one species among something like 20,000 bee species. Male honey bees cannot eat by themselves and are fed by the female bees before they are turned out of the hive as winter approaches to starve to death, their function in reproduction completed. Amelia

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  10. How fascinating bees are. A few neighbours keep honey bees. I didn’t know the males got turfed out. If only they had made themselves useful about the place!
    We have some of the native ones at our place. The water table here has dropped too, and with the warmer dryer environment we see more and more new insect species. Some of our local species live nowhere else. I hope they are not impacted by the newbies.
    I am hoping we’ll get some water in the dams from this rain. The soils have gotten so dry they suck up all the water before it gets to them.

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  11. There is quite a lot of debate as to how honey bees effect native solitary bees. If you think that solitary bees lay individual eggs and provide the egg with enough nectar and pollen to grow into an adult bee. Maybe each solitary bee female lays 40 eggs. You get the idea of the quantity of nectar used? Whereas, one honey bee hive, kept for the honey, produces perhaps 25 to 30 kilos of honey a year. That takes a lot of resources. If you scale that up to commercial beekeeping with hundreds of hives in a small area, it mounts up.

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  12. I love when the sunflowers are in bloom. They light up the sky with a brilliant yellow hue. Thank you for the photos.

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