a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A Week of Flowers, Day 3


Eleagnus umbellata, 30.3.21

One of the joys of sharing gardens through the blogs is finding the gems that are perfect for your own garden. We bought several of these trees in 2017 and they thrive well in our garden with these pretty flowers in the spring. Eventually, we hope that they will produce fruit.

Honesty (Lunaria annua) flowers, 14.4.21

I have a beautiful dark leaved variety of Honesty that self seeds where it fancies, much to the delight of all the different types of bees. I love it too. A large part of my delight in seeing it flower every year comes from thinking of the friend who sent me the seeds.

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.

14 thoughts on “A Week of Flowers, Day 3

  1. The dark honesty is very attractive Amelia. I must try and find some seed here as I haven’t got any honesty in this garden yet. A nice reminder of friends and their kindness. I had never thought of it before, that Eleagnus also produce fruit. Not sure I have ever seen any! That has got me pondering! Thanks for sharing Amelia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have also planted one Eleagnus angustifolia which is also called the “Russian olive” because I like the fruits it produces. However, whether the fruits will be produced or even ripen sufficiently here remains to be seen. In the meantime I have a little easy attractive tree with flowers. Amelia

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  2. We have a variety of your Eleagnus–commonly called Autumn Olive. They are hardy, to the point of invasive. The fruit is wonderful–makes a tart jelly, especially good with meats. And it is one of the very few wood plants that is nitrogen fixing. Sigh. So why am I pulling it all out? It is a non-native invasive. At first I was happy to leave it be, thinking that it was good wild forage and food for birds. But then the truth emerged–those lovely berries–with their unfortunate fibrous center–might be good for condiments, but it was disastrous for migrating birds. The fibrous parts take so much energy to process, that the poor birds net a zero caloric benefit. The time and energy eating autumn olive actually costs them in their travels. So now we pull or cut them. It’s too bad, the blooms are wildly aromatic–and the bees love them. But I cannot sacrifice the birds for the bees.

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    • Interesting, I had never heard of its effects on birds. I’ll have to check out if the birds eat it here, if we ever get the fruit. Sounds like a good diet food if it tastes good :). Amelia

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      • For humans, one separates out the fibrous interior. It’s not an easy fruit to can–but well worth the extra effort. (our chickens love them, but they have lots of available calories, and they’re not flying south. I’ve decided that I’m doing my bit by removing them–but I could still harvest from nearby properties–and thus minimize the berries that the birds could get. (Aren’t I so generous?) I think the Russian Olives stay green–while the Autumn Olives ripen to a deep, slightly spotted red–in the autumn. The berries have a distinctive sweet, then tart flavor.

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  3. Lovely choices – and that dark-leaved honesty sounds like it’s worth searching out. Did you acquire it/sow it hoping for the leaf colour, or did it simply start ‘doing it’s thing’ in your garden?

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  4. What do you think the second bee is?

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  5. It could be a lasioglossum but we would need more details to decide, I get very lost with lasioglossum and halictus.

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    • I think you can sometimes hazard a guess because of the time of year and what flower they are on. It would be nice to go on a walk with someone in the summer who could point you in the right direction. I would choose David Goulson because I find bumblebees very confusing. If you dream you might as well shoot high.

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  6. Well he does have a house in France!

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