a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Definitely spring


The waters have receded to a more normal spring level and the daffodils are out. These are where we retire our daffodils when they get too crowded in other parts of the garden. I was not sure the bulbs would survive the dry, hot summer but they do and get enough rain and light in the spring to proliferate.

I love seeing the hazel flower – tiny as they are. There are two on the stem underneath the catkin.

I see the white-tailed bumble bee queens during the winter but it has to be spring before I see the queen Carder bumblebees. They love the dead red-nettle and there is plenty of it in the garden just now.

The biggest spring event for us is when the old plum tree flowers. It is a festival of perfume, buzzing and pollinators.

Such an opportunity for photographs.

Bees and plum blossom are so photogenic.

I could go on like this for some time, but I won’t.

I did say pollinators in the plum tree so I must insert my token butterfly. Probably a tortoiseshell.

I am not going closer than a tortoiseshell. I don’t think it was a small tortoiseshell but please feel free to leave a comment if you know what it is. Before anyone asks – I do not know what colour its legs were, I was lucky to get the picture I did.

Being a frugal type I decided to plant the hyacinth bulbs I had inside for their perfume, after the flowers had finished. My trusty garden tool is used for everything and I swing it around with wild abandon.

I was chilled to realise, when digging the hole, that I had nearly decapitated a hiberating toad. I think it must have been the root that saved him. I had to pick him up to make sure he still had four legs.

He sat quietly to the side while I redug a hollow under the root. He accepted his repositioning calmly and looked less upset than I was.

So all is well in the garden with the Carpenter bees swooping noisily onto the heather.

All the bees love the Hellebore and there are even more than ever this year.

But the biggest news today was that the Osmia cornuta males are emerging from the bee houses. I do love to watch them and if you would like to share you can see more of my photos at Bees in a French Garden.

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.

23 thoughts on “Definitely spring

  1. Well spotted on the hibernating road . I had to look three times to see her in your photos! My daffodils were completely killed by the very low temperatures only last week, so I enjoyed your pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s something very special about first daffodils in spring. Sort of a rejuvenation signal for another wonderful year in the garden. Thanks again for sharing your garden with us. I love your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh how beautiful! All the photos so pretty and satisfyingly close up and focused. Enjoyed seeing your bees and what they are called. I do not know names of bees. Only the difference between a honeybee, carpenter bee, and bumblebee. Our old plums trees on the hill are blooming too. I have a special affection for them. I’m going to re-read your post again now. 🙂 Thanks for bringing joy to us all!

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  4. Thank you Amelia for bringing us such beautiful photo’s. I will keep an eye open for bees when the plum trees blossom which they are not even considering yet. I am going outside to check if I have any tiny flowers on our hazels. We do have bees collecting pollen from them since February 19th. Our daffodils are still closed but the crocuses are open now.

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  5. You’re right, it’s not a small tortoiseshell – it has one more black spot on the forewing, and lacks a big black region on the base of the hindwing – so I guess it must be a large tortoiseshell. The close relative of the large tortoiseshell, the scare (or, as you alluded to, yellow-legged tortoiseshell) is really only found in eastern Europe. One way to separate them is the large has a yellowish band between the black band and orange of the hindwing, which the scarce lacks. You can see this in your photo. However, the white (rather than yellow) appearance of the patches on the leading edge of the forewing, and the general pattern of black spots, does give it a scare appearance! (no, I won’t ask about the leg colour…).

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  6. The plum trees are very beautiful.

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  7. OH those amazing blooms! Still winter here in the upper plains of the U.S.


  8. Hello Amelia, A fabulous springtime post full of wonderful sights and colours – great to read the comment about the Tortoiseshell too – I’ve never seen one of these , and fabulous to see all of this so early in the year. I wonder if you find daffodil flowering can be very variable from year to year, it looks like this year is going to be a great one here, and I can’t work out why – maybe last spring’s extra light, but the it was really dry, which I would have thought would have been a problem with flower bud initiation.
    best wishes

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    • I have had the same reflections here. I wondered if the heavy rainfall has speeded up things here, as everything looks ready to be earlier than usual. I would have put my money on more sunshine and brighter days to bring on an early spring but this year has been exceptionally dull and cloudy. Temperature wise it has not been too cold but within our norms. The bees are extremely busy with a lot of frames of eggs and also have laid male eggs. So their season has started in earnest. The plums, blackthorn, gorse, willow, mimosa and lots of wild flowers are in bloom. Let’s hope there is no sudden freeze. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lovely spring photos Amelia. Must be exciting to see all the bees returning and enjoying your pretty blossom. 😃 A good reminder to watch out for toads – the same has happened to me before now!

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    • It would be terrible to chop through one of these poor creatures but they are so well camouflaged it is difficult to see them if they do not move. At least when it properly warms up they are more likely to hop away. Amelia

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  10. You are well ahead of us with spring as I would expect. Very nice bee pictures especially the Osmia cornuta. The large tortoiseshell butterfly is I believe extinct in the UK. I saw a small tortoiseshell last week here in Devon on a warmish day.

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    • I did not know that the Large Tortoiseshell was extint in the U.K. I felt shocked, perhaps it is because I do not really bother as much about the butterflies that I did not realise their plight must be as bad as the wild bees. I had to look up what the caterpillars fed on and I found that they feed on a range of tree leaves readily (I would suppose) available in the U.K. Is it just the pesticides that gets them? Amelia


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