a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Mid April in the garden


Blue skies and sunny days often bring overnight frosts and after the high temperatures we had two weeks ago most of the plants have suffered from frost damage. The leaves hang, a bit droopy and sad but they will recover.

We too are passing our second April in confinement, not so strict this time, we can go 10 kilometres from the house which is more then the one kilometer distance for one hour of exercise that we endured last year. Like the plants we will survive.

Nature continues and we have baby blackbirds in the garden. They do not fly away when you approach but this careless attitude will only last a few days and we do not have cats.

We have more and more Honesty (Lunaria annua) self-seeding over the garden. I love the colour and it seems to be able to find better places to grow than I would have imagined. It is perfect to attract all the pollinators.

The furry bee flies look cute but are parasites of solitary bees so I cannot help feeling a twinge of antipathy towards them.

This little bee had a slightly metallic sheen to it and it could be a Lasioglossom (perhaps morio)

Butterflies also take advantage of the Honesty and the orange-tip butterfly is especially photogenic.

I checked ot out onthe Butterfly Conservation web site. Guess what? It lays its eggs on Honesty in gardens. I have never noticed any caterpillars on them so the site must be correct that it prefers some of the wild flowers that are around just now. I’ll try and remember to keep my eye open for signs of caterpillars.

The last of the tulips are fully open now in my layered planter. So providing interest from the middle of February until late April is a worthwhile effort.

The last white tulips (Mount Tacoma) looked better on their own than while the pale pink (Candy Prince) were open. The pink was definitely a candy pink and looked pallid beside the pure white tulips.

Live and learn!

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.

17 thoughts on “Mid April in the garden

  1. I love your honesty flowers. They are so important for the early bees in my garden too. The weather forecast shows positive temperatures at night locally so hopefully the frost is over!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My mother loved Honesty/Lunaria. It grew wild all over her garden, and she would pick the seed pods for flower arrangements. In NY where I grew up it was known by the common name Silver Dollar Plant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A caterpillar ate some of my honesty last year. I have no idea which one it was. I will pay more attention this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It could have been an orange-tip. They do not do much damage and the butterflies look very pretty against the purple flowers. All my dark leaved Honesty has naturalised in with the normal leave colour now. I have one strange clump of Honesty with stripey flowers but they are a bit scraggy so I have not got an amazing sport. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My wisteria leaves were just coming out when we had the hard frost here in the Vaucluse, and they totally died, it looks terrible! I’m sure it will recover. I have a lot of honesty around the garden, more each year. It looks great and the caterpillars can eat as much as they like, there’s enough. In general, I leave caterpillars alone — except the ones who eat buis!
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the tulips. I remember seeing lots of orange tips in my old garden and discovering some honesty had grown wild in the woods next to us, so I made the connection too. 😃 The honesty has since spread into the garden!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have you seen the female orange-tips yet? Confusingly they dont have orange tips but they do have the mottled underwings. Their eggs are quite easy to spot under the flower heads, they look like tiny orange rugby balls.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I must admit that I do not keep track of the little white butterflies. I get attracted to the flashier ones. Thank you for the tip about the eggs though, I will look for them now. I had thought I would have to wait and see if I noticed any caterpillars. Amelia


  7. Especially that butterfly..


  8. Gorgeous photos! Too bad the bee fly is a pest b/c it really is cute. Will be neat to hear if you find any caterpillars!

    Liked by 1 person

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