a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Signs of autumn


Some of the leaves on the trees are turning golden and a few are scattered on the ground yet at the same time the bees can still find some flowerlets on the last of the lavender bushes to flower.

The quince tree has produced enough fruit for us but as usual they are not perfect and the worm eaten parts have to be cut out before they are used.

The sedum is just starting to colour and already the bumble bees come for the early open flowers.

The second crop of raspberries is doing well, thanks to recent rain and of course the bumble bees that assiduously visit their insignificant flowers.  It always seem to be the carder bumble bees that visit the raspberries at this time of year.

The Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) or pourpier is happy to see the rain.  This one is growing in my vegetable garden and trying its best to impersonate parsley, but I was not to be fooled.

I get large patches of this and it can be quite invasive.  It can be eaten as a salad vegetable but I confess I have never got passed the “having a nibble” stage.  It is O.K. and I should really pick some and try and make a real salad of it.

I was reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and she writes that one evening Thomas Cromwell had a salad of purslane.  It was a popular dish in Tudor times so I should not ignore it.  Does anyone else eat it?

This year we have had a lot of apples from our four apple trees.  We have given them away, I have made apple jelly and will later make chutney and Kourosh has taken charge of bottling them as compote.

Our favourite for eating is the Reine de Reinettes which is a sweet crisp apple that also is very good to cook.  It reminds me a bit of Cox’s Orange Pippin.  August seems so early to have so many apples.

At least the tomatoes have decided to ripen but I think I will have plenty of green ones this year for chutney.

In the meantime the extra tomatoes go in the pot for coulis to be frozen for the winter.

Will my butternut squash ripen before the winter?

Will this be a cold winter, for there seems to be more rose hips on the roses?

Hiding under a pot of geraniums this baby mouse was too young to run away.  Instead he rolled over to try and shelter under the leaves.  With all the fallen apples around I expect he will find plenty of food to grow up with and store away for the winter. whatever the weather throws at us.


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.

21 thoughts on “Signs of autumn

  1. We are seeing the signs, too. The bees seem content with the late season blooms, goldenrod, chicory, spotted bee balm and the last of the knapweed. The pollen on their legs has changed fom light yellow to deep amber–a signal that the honey will now be darker and intense, with fewer floral notes. A few branches, here and there, are coloring. It seems early, everyone is saying so. But maybe that’s just end of season talking.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Both, At Latitude 49.2 degrees we have also noticed the apples maturing early. We espalier four varieties including St. Edmunds Pippen and have already harvested all apples.
    Our tomato plants did not do as well due, I think, to a very wet June but we have enough to eat daily and I will be making Green Tomato Chutney.
    The bees locally had a very heavy swarm season in June. We hope to get our two hives through the winter both now with superseded Queens.
    I always enjoy your posts and updates, thank you for taking time to share insights into your life in a French Garden.
    Regards Janine
    BC Canada

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are 45.5 degrees so you are at a similar latitude to Paris whereas we are more in line with Montreal. We seem to be having similar experiences in the garden at this time. I hope your bees do well. We are going into winter with four strong colonies. I would like to try to stop at least a couple of them from swarming next spring. I shall try some techniques I have read about in British bee magazines. Amelia


  3. Autumn fruitfulness is definitely closing in!

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  4. Yes,all the signs of autumn are about here too: ripening hawthorn berries, sycamore seeds, the last knapweed flowers popular with the carder bees ……

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For some reason the Like button won’t work for me, so I will tell you here that I like this post. 😀 I tasted purslane once after another gardener told me it is edible. I suppose it was, but that’s when I realized there was a distinction between something that is merely edible and something I’d actually enjoy eating. Have a lovely autumn!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I must admit that was my impression too. I have read that the acidity changes from more acid in the morning to less acid as the day passes. Do you think we picked it at the wrong time of day 😉 ? Nevertheless, a lot of salad leaves and raw vegetables can have quite a mild taste. Maybe we just have to get the dressing right. Amelia


    • Foragers here are all abuzz over purslane. I have purslane aplenty in the garden–I’m forever weeding it. So, I’ve nibbled from time to time, never impressed with it as a culinary item. Am I missing the boat? Really, foragers here swap recipes for canning it. I cannot even get my chickens to eat it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How nice that you grow quince. Mine is is a copy of a tree that I knew when I was a kid. They are very rare here, even though there are many people of Portuguese, Spanish and Mexican descent here (or in other regions of California). Purslane is a common weed, but seems to be rarely eaten. Those who know the quince are the same who know purslane.

    Liked by 1 person

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