a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Spring unfolds


I feel spring in our garden starts when our big plum tree flowers and the bees fill the tree making the petals of the plum blossom fall like confetti. There are still some flower buds opening but the big display is over and the total white haze is giving over to hints of green as the leaves start to open.

The perfume is still distinct but another perfume is taking over, especially in the late afternoon, from the Osmanthus burkwoodii that you can see in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph.

The flowers of the Osmanthus burkwoodii are not large or flashy but are highly perfumed and much appreciated by the bees.

The other strong perfume in the garden at the moment comes from the Hyacinths. I used to regard Hyacinths as indoor bulbs and stubby things to grow in a garden.

But I have changed my mind now for they add colour and exquisite perfume so I plant them as near to the terrace as I can. Although I do admit that I have to farm out some of the excess ones to spots further away as they are happy to reflower in the climate here.

In the mornings I like to check my bee boxes before there is too much sun. This is when I can find the Osmia, either still asleep after spending the night cosy inside a hole or just thinking about starting off their day.

Each day brings something different to see. The Bombus praetorum queens are quicker than the bumbling white tailed bumble bee queens, which makes them more difficult to photograph.

This is a better photograph of her but I like the first one better.

This carder bumble bee is a beautiful ginger colour over her entire thorax and abdomen. She is on the Cerinthe which has just started to flower this week. The Cerinthe self-seeds and started growing in the autumn and has not been damaged at all by the mild winter.

The Wisteria has started to open its flower buds. It is a formidable plant. It looks as if the bud is taking off its winter coat.

Another welcome flower has appeared on one of our succulents. I do not know what it is and we have grown it from a piece we have acquired. The succulents are another group of plants that I have grown to appreciate more and more.

We have had so much rain this spring that the early flowers are thriving and I feel that the daisies are bigger this year. It should be a good spring for the bees.

Kourosh is taking no chances and, in case he can tempt any errant swarms, he has placed a small hive at the bottom of the garden.

Also at the bottom of the garden, in a piece of rough ground that we use to compost down the garden rubbish, I noticed a clump of short daffodils/narcissi. I am not very fond of these and they seem to multiply excessively, however, Kourosh likes them. I had to cull them last year and asked Kourosh to dispose of the excess bulbs. Now I know where he put 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.

28 thoughts on “Spring unfolds

  1. Osmanthus of various species seem to be popular everywhere but here. Viburnum tinus does well enough here to spread, but is not pretty enough to get my attention like it does elsewhere. I mean, it is rather plain. It is amusing to read about how appealing other osmanthus are elsewhere, just because they mostly get ignored here. Only the snowball bush is really showy for us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You remind me of my sister. She cannot understand my love of small white flowers. She loves everything big and blowsy and colourful. It would be very dull if everybodies gardens looked the same 🙂 Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

      • White happens to be my favorite color, but I prefer it to be bright white, neither creamy nor subdued. To me, most of the viburnum bloom with a rather grungy white. They look so much better in pictures from other regions.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my! The bees and the flowers. Your posts will have to carry me through until our snow melts. And don’t be harsh with dear Kourosh; it’s a pleasure to know a man with a soft spot for flowers.

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  3. Great photos. Love the color of the Cerinthe.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You have a wonderful bee population. I notice that pulmonarias are the target plant of the bees here at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely.
    Arthur in the Garden!
    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So beautiful. I’ve been enjoying the scented blue hyacinths in my local park.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely to see your spring has progressed so well. Still waiting for ours to get going, but with longer days there should be a bit more in flower for the bees soon. Had two enormous bumble bees in my Hellebores yesterday although it was only about 5°C!

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  8. The Wisteria buds are beautiful at that early stage a promise of better things to come. Welcome more than ever this spring. Is that a wild plum in flower?

    Liked by 1 person

    • We did not plant our big plum tree. I guess it is a Myrobolan or Prunus cerasifera. It is the earliest flowering in our neighborhood but it gives very sweet plums. They are small but not like the small, acid plums of the wild plums that we have around here. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful pictures of flowers and bees !
    Our Cerinthe has flowers since a few weeks and it self seeds like in your garden.
    It has not be affected by the frost we had a few days ago, which unusual.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The yellow flowering succulent (I don’t know its name either) is naturalized in the Herault where I used to live. I have a couple of planters full of it, you can’t kill it, and it is an early cheerful reminder that spring is just about sprung.
    bonnie in provence

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  11. A very nice record of your spring!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Another wonderful blog post! You’ve got me interested in growing Osmanthus. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it. Beautiful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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