a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

November flowers and fruit

13 Comments

We have been confined now for one week in the new second general confinement in France. We are allowed to go food shopping and attend medical appointments. Travelling to work is permitted when it is impossible to fulfill the job by staying connected on the Internet at home. When you do leave home, even for a walk of no longer than 1 kilometer, you should have an “attestation” indicating when you left home and for what reason.

As the cafes and restaurants are closed and visiting is not allowed, it only leaves me gardening and walking.

I have started weeding the front gardens and mulching with the fallen leaves from the garden.

The Persimmon tree leaves are a beautiful colour for the mulch but I have brought barrow loads of leaves from the Liriodendron and other trees in the back garden to fill up the border.

The Ash tree leaves are not so pretty and go in the back borders or the compost.

My three small heathers that I potted up for some winter colour on the patio have already started flowering.

As soon as the flowers open the bees find them. It looks like being a good investment for colour and entertainment.

The Carpenter bees visit the potted lemon tree on the patio and

also visit the Salvia uliginosa which has just about finished flowering in a nearby pot.

The Salvia leucantha has just started opening its white flowers in a big pot on the patio and also in the front garden. Its country of origin is Mexico and I have read that it is not frost hardy but it has survived in the pot that I brought indoors last winter. It has also survived outdoors in the front border where it is flowering now. I gave a division of my plant last autumn to my neighbour Annie, who planted it in her garden in a sunny spot and hers is a now a much larger specimen and is full of flowers.

My yellow buddeleia is still flowering. Attracting butterflies like this Peacock.

And this rather old Red Admiral.

I was given the original cutting by a beekeeper friend who assured me that the bees would be attracted to it. He was right! I prefer it to the lilac buddeleia.

This is what the Kaki or Persimmon flowers look like in May. They are very discrete flowers and you really have to look for them.

It is difficult to imagine that large red or yellow fruit the size of large tomatoes could be difficult to see in a tree – but it is true! Kourosh started his Kaki predictions this year by saying that he was surprised that it was going to be such a poor year as the summer had been warm. Later he changed his mind and announced we would be having enough to have a taste. Then he decided that there was more than he thought.

To cut a long story short, we have been collecting boxes of them. They have been being handed out to friends as they have been gradually harvested and I only wish we had weighed how much the tree has given us this year. Everytime more leaves fell we saw more fruit. Now the tree is bare except for some that we have left for the birds share.

They do not ripen all at once and ripen more slowly in a cool place. This year I have frozen some of the ripe flesh without the skin. I have never done this before but seemingly it is possible.

Our other November fruit is the olives. They can be left for a few days yet but then it will be up to Kourosh to prepare them.

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.

13 thoughts on “November flowers and fruit

  1. For once, we are also having lovely weather, to compare to yours. It’s unseasonable, but we’re taking advantage and doing outdoor landscaping and planting. The bees are flying (in November!) and we’re enjoying their extended run. Our flowers are done, though, so I have nothing nearly so lovely as your late season garden. (And cannot imagine olives!) I know that olives are far hardier than one would expect–and might even survive here. But, olives require some bit of drier weather in the spring for pollination. Our regular rains would never work–so no olive fruits. As a result, nobody ever plants them here. (They do have lovely silvery foliage.) Winter will come soon, and then I’ll have to rely on your colorful photos to get me through to spring.

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  2. Lovely post as always…..
    You wrote “It is difficult to imagine that large red or yellow fruit the size of large tomatoes could be difficult to see in a tree!”
    I don’t… when I was in forestry, the Forestry Commission changed the colour scheme of their vehicle to a bright orange… and promptly lost one in Kielder Forest for a month!! So I fully understand Kourosh’s low predictions….. I find raspberries the same….

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    • I used to find camouflage a difficult concept to understand as a child. I think losing a bright orange van for a month would really bring it home!
      Raspberries work on the same principle. Bye the bye, we had a bumper crop this year and also the fruiting continued so long. I think there are one or two on the bushes now. Amelia

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  3. I grew salvia leucantha in southern california but have not tried it here as it is supposed to not be hardy. However I am in a protected area of Provence and there is space on the property that is even more protected, so I may try it against a sunny south facing wall. It would be interesting if your followers who comment would say where they are, as often they talk about climate, and I wonder where they might be ….
    bonnie in provence near Carpentras

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    • Both Annie and I covered the leucantha with some straw over the winter. We usually have mild winters here and rarely have prolonged spells of cold weather. I do remember a year when the trees were white with frost for a whole day and it was under zero, but it is rare. I have planted Salvias near walls and the only problem is that the tall ones tend to fall away from the wall. Where you are I think it would be fine in a sunny position and a mulch for the winter. Amelia

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  4. Lovely photos of the insects to be found in your garden. As for the persimmons…that’s a wonderful haul! Do you preserve them in some way?

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    • I have never needed to conserve them but this year I am going to try to freeze the scooped out flesh. I can see not reason why it should not freeze well. The flesh is very sweet and I think it would be good for a sorbet but that is something I must try too. Amelia

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  5. I find the carpenter bees fascinating, perhaps because they are so rare in the UK, how long do they go on for in your part of France?

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  6. Ah, olives and persimmons! How . . . well, . . . Californian.

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