a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

July finishes


As July finishes the weather forecast predicts clouds, rain and lower than usual temperatures for the beginning of August.

This is not our usual August weather but no one is surprised as “normal” becomes a word to put behind you and take each day as it comes.

The baby birds in the garden at the moment keep us amused.

They seem to have adolescent bad hair days.

The young blackbird will soon change and become an elegant bird with sleek black feathers but the feathers on the head have stayed brown and mottled.

There are another two occupants of the front garden that have lived with us for six years now but never made it into the blog.

These are our two tortoises, Pegah in the front and Posht behind him. They were born in a friend’s garden in the nearby town of Saintes. Originally from North Africa their forebears were brought over as pets for children long since become adults.

There are always plenty of tasty green leaves to tempt the tortoises. They nibble and go and eat a wide variety of plants. I have noticed my sedum leaves being consumed.

In the spring the poppies are in high demand.

It is not only leaves that they eat but the flowers too. Given the opioids in all parts of the poppy, I imagine that they pass a very happy, contented springtime in the garden.

In the summer we cannot help but give them the odd treat of banana or watermelon but I have read that they should not be given an excess of fruit so I limit our treats to tomatoes.

I am not sure quite how the nutritional requirements are derived because they seem to have similar habits to goats and will browse on anything that takes their fancy. I feel they would eat any fallen ripe fruit that might come their way.

In fact, although these tortoises are reputed to be completely vegetarian, they very happily eat snails – shells and all!

Perhaps it is because these are French tortoises.

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 “July finishes

  1. Hello Amelia,
    I love the idea of spaced out opioid afflicted tortoises, though how you’d ever know from their behaviour? I never knew much about tortoises, and actually saw very few in all my years of per practice, which was probably just as well for them. Though we did have a neighbouring vet who professed to have a specialism in their treatment. Good luck with the vagaries of the weather in August!
    best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our weather is odd, too. But we thank our lucky stars that the “new normal” at least includes ample rainfall. Our tomatoes aren’t amused; they long for the heat of a real summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I laughed out loud at your final sentence. What, no butter and garlic?!
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A tortoise on a ‘high’ now that must be something to see! Perhaps that’s how he managed to beat the hare!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your post was already so charming with the beautiful garden view through the window and the adorable birds, and then you astounded us with the tortoises!!! Wow. That is the cutest little house for them. What delightful garden companions they must be! I wish I could do a painting of them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • They need the house here. In the autumn they hibernate. They go to their house and dig into the ground. We cover them with straw and then put a layer of plastic over the house because it is important they do not get wet and then freeze. Often people here just let them dig in anywhere as we never get a bad freeze for long but I like to feel that they are safe in winter and know where they are. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So heartwarming and sweet! I love that you do that for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, we have to take each days as it comes. And do our best in the vegetable plot which is not easy this year. Very pleased to hear about tortoises, especicially the habits of your “french tortoises” !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The weather here is also very unpredictable, it makes it very difficult to plan walks etc. Thank you also for the charming account of your tortoises.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, I love your tortoises! And with those poppies, I imagine they love life in your garden. Baby birds are fun, our juvenile American robins have speckled breasts that they lose as adults.

    Liked by 1 person

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