a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

End of April


This is our Persimmon tree. All the new leaf shoots have been frazzled by the frost we had a week or so ago but the damage is only becoming apparent now. Even the Redstarts are confused. They have been coming to survey the bird boxes in the Persimmon tree and I think they are puzzled that there are no leaves.

Not all the plants were affected and the Choisia Sundance is in great form while right beside it the Hydrangia is in a sorry state.

The flowering Ash tree (Fraxinus ornus) looks completery bedraggled with burnt leaves and some sad flowers.

This is what the flowering Ash looked like on 12 April 2019. It was not that the low temperatures were so low this year but our previous temperatures were so high, fooling the plants to think summer had come. This week the temperature has gone up to 29 degrees Centigrade here (84 degrees Fahrenheit), so the yo-yo-ing of weather continues with no rain.

We take advantage of the good weather to enjoy coffees outside. The tree peony is flowering.

The flowers are big, blowsy affairs with a touch of red in the centre. The flowers don’t last too long but at least we are getting sunshine to enjoy them.

Tucked away close bye are a group of blue and pink forget-me-nots. I would never have been able to tempt them to grow where they have appeared but the self-seeders always seem to find a place for themselves.

Poppies are the masters of self-seeding and our first red poppies are out and managing to attract some of the Anthophora bees away from the Cerinthe.

They are noisy bees.

Our first Camassia has flowered in our container. We have a big tub of Camassia near where we sit for coffee. Between the bumble bees and the Anthophora there is always a buzz.

The little tree frog outcompetes the bees. He perches on the lemon tree in its pot on the patio and watches us taking our coffee. I must get a recording of him as he has a powerful croak that belies his tiny size.

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.

29 thoughts on “End of April

  1. Yes, the damage is now becoming apparent. In my newly planted orchard the plums are looking good, but the apples are in various states of frazzle – I will need to wait a few weeks to see which ones pull through. My hydrangea looks like it will grow out of the damage, but with many blackened shoots. But amongst all this my roses have bloomed into magnificence!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lovely! We had a late frost here in Raleigh, North Carolina which fried the hydrangeas which had just begun to grow. I hope they still bloom

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love the yellow tree peony. What is the name? I saw them frequently when garden touring southern England some years ago. They aren’t as well know here. Lovely plants. We can always hope and expect the damaged plants to come back strong next season. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m afraid I do not know the name of the tree peony, it was an impulse buy some years ago, and like a lot of the plants we see in France, it was not well labelled. Now I try to be more discerning and choose plants for what I am trying to achieve and that are suitable for the climate here. I try to avoid impulse buys – but it does not always work :). Amelia


  4. I love your frog and tree peony. But drat those late freezes. It’s been cold here, but we have not had any hard frosts this month. I’m more worried about how dry it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Amelia,
    Fascinating to read that even you’ve been hit with late frosts and no rain. And what a temperature swing! Will the frosts have clobbered all the vines, or aren’t their flowers open yet? It really is tough for plants and insects to cope. I wonder if it’s exceptionally dry for you for this time of the year? Here we’re already fretting about our water supply after the driest April we can recall. And we’re not into any real heat yet.
    Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

    • In this region the frosts were just on the cusp to kill the first flowers of the vines. It is quite odd even in the same field some of the flowers have been killed and others survived. I think it was because the frost was accompanied by unusually cold wind during the day, so shelter was more important than usual. I do not have any statistics but I cannot remember a spring as dry as this. However, the east and south of France have been getting rain. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a pretty little frog! You have so many lovely flowers despite the frosts. Our nights are still frosty here but warm in the day, with a cold wind.

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  7. Wow for the tree paeonia! A beauty!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I worried about that predicted cold snap in your neighborhood. We are having yo-yo weather, too, but not as extreme. I woke up this morning to snow and drizzle–a welcome bread from tree planting. Please keep us apprised of the status of the persimmon. I have been considering putting some of them in–but we’re on the edge of their zone….

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    • I am a great fan of the persimmon. Putting aside your much colder temperatures, it is very tough here. Giving fruit you can keep into the winter is a big plus too. What would be great is if you could find someone nearby you that has tried them. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry to hear you had so much frost damage. The recent cold here has affected a hydrangea with brown edges now on all the new leaves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think most of the damage is cosmetic and the leaves are coming back. We will have to see if the the plums will be touched or not. We have cut down our two apricot trees now as we feel it is not a good area for early blossoming fruit tres. Amelia


  10. Our hydrangeas have been hit by the frost. I had not thought that it was due as much to the high temperatures we had earlier but it makes sense because we have not had really hard frosts.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You really have a beautiful garden! I hope that all your plants recover from frost damage soon enough and bless you with lots of leaves and flowers. Your photos are really pretty, especially the peony flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You have the cutest bumblebees!!! So adorable. Sweet little friendly frog too! Hope your garden is recovering from the frost. We’ve been so busy here, not only with spring planting and chores, but the drought and wildfire safety prep. Whew!

    Liked by 1 person

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