a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A story with a happy ending

31 Comments

O.K. a story starting with the photograph of a Butternut Squash does not seem to bode well for a riveting read, but wait there is a deeper message!

In August 2012 I wrote a blog “Pumpkin Perfume?” (yes, I was surprised too, that I’ve been writing my blog so long). I had grown a pumpkin that exuded a divine perfume!

I had no idea if this was something very common with pumkins or on the rare side. My friends who had given me the plant had no clue what they had given me as they grew different sorts every year and did not keep records.

Over the years I have had comments on the blog from other people who had occasionally had a whiff of this perfume while others had never noticed any odour. Then yesterday I had a comment all the way from Argentina from Carolina. She has grown butternut squash and like me noticed nothing in particular, but this year she is growing Uchiki Kuri squash and has noticed the wonderful perfume from the flowers in the early morning!

I quickly looked up Uchiki Kuri squash and found it is called Potimarron in France and is indeed a very popular squash here. It has a good flavour in soup with a hint of sweet chestnut.

I have already ordered my seeds for next year. Who cares if I get many potimarron, I just want to smell the flowers again. But here is the rub – the perfume is only for early risers. If you enjoy late morning rising you will miss this perfume.

What made me so happy was the thought of Carolina in Argentina contacting me. Often I have dark thoughts about the progress of technology and whether it has brought the benefits we hope for but I was so touched by Carolina reaching out to me and my cyber friend saying,

“Hi, I have got the answer to your question.”

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.

31 thoughts on “A story with a happy ending

  1. I love happy endings. Wonderful story. Hope you two have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Throughout all, stay safe. John

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you reached me too Amelia, keep safe the both of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A good development to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is a wonderful affirmation. I, too, have reservations about the internet. But I’d be hard pressed to apply those concerns to the many wonderful people I’ve encountered through my blog, or theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Amelia,
    Fascinating post- and your link back post too – we grew Uchiri Kiri this year, and I was clearly not up there early enough to smell them! But another thought occurs to me. Is it the male, or the female flowers which smell. Or both? Plus do the flowers get the insect pollinators early on when the scent is being produced, or throughout the day? Maybe more things to look out for this year – there’s always something new to discover, isn’t there?
    Best wishes and Happy Christmas. to you both,
    Julian
    BTW – great to see, as I’ve recently discovered, that for now at least the WP archives work really well going back all those years – unlike a lot of other on line digital information….

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  6. I do not believe that the scent is important for the bee pollinators as I am sure I have seen bees in all the pumpkin flowers at all times of day. Also I smelt the perfume in the early morning and I could not be sure if, for instance, if the honeybees had started foraging. They start later in the cool summer mornings. Male or female flowers? Could be difficult to tell as it was a very diffuse perfume that took some time to track back to the source. As you say always something new to discover and to look forward to examining next year. Amelia

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  7. That is wonderful Amelia. Blogging makes the world a lot smaller doesn’t it, and I know how happy it makes me when someone the other side of the world understands what I am talking about! Amazing that a pumpkin can smell so good too. 😃

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  8. A lovely story. I shall definitely sniff my pumpkin Flowers this summer!
    🌸🌸

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  9. Marianne and I regularly buy potimarrons in the markets of the Dordogne, and eat them baked from the oven. When I build my vegetable beds this year, I will make sure to sow their seeds and, as an early riser, look forward to enjoying their perfume before my morning chores. Another little pleasure!

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  10. Very interesting that some squash flowers are scented in the morning! In North America, there are native squash bees (Peponapis) that rise early before the honeybees come out. After collecting nectar and pollen for their eggs, the females go back into their nests in the ground to sleep. The male bees go into the flowers, which close up by noon, so they too have a safe place to sleep. I wonder if the scent is there to call the bees.

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    • Very interesting! I like the idea that the Peponapis get there before the greedy honeybees. Perhaps it is these native, early rising bees that are the origingal pollinators of the American squash and will be attracted by the perfume. There seems a close relationship between the bees and the squash – even providing shelter for the male bees. It must go back long before the introduction of the European honeybees. Amelia

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  11. That is a new one for me. I read about it only last year or so. I know that some squash blossoms are fragrant, but those that I experienced are not impressive, and not even all that appealing.

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  12. I love this post on many different levels, as a beekeeper a person who grows squash, and a person with serious concerns about technology and humanity. Thanks for sharing something positive.

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  13. Very interesting, and as you say mixed feelings about the internet but with out it we would never have met up and had some excellent times with you and K. So all the best for Christmas and maybe we will meet up next year….. Things look more and more bleak here.

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  14. A lovely story and a very positive aspect of the internet – I am very glad that we met through blogging!

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  15. Yes, I would also miss our interchanges. Best wishes for the festive season and to Kourosh! Philip

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  16. Because of your story, I’ve just ordered that squash and I eagerly look forward to the scent, although getting up early will be a challenge for this night-owl. 😉 thx for a lovely blog!

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