a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A Week in Flowers, Day 6

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Honeybee in Altea, 7.8.21

When we first started this garden we had very few flowers. A neighbour gave me the seeds of her Altea (Hibiscus syriacus). There is a similarity between the flowers and the flowsy tropical Hibiscus. The H. syriacus is a hardy deciduous plant that stands up well to our hot dry summers. Because I grew mine from seed I have a variety of colours and I find the bushes work well as a hedging plant. They can be cut with impunity in the winter and shaped high, low or fanned. I have even seen it grown into a small tree in this area. I have also read that the flowers are edible but I have not tried them yet. Certainly they would be excellent for food decoration.

Carder bumblebee on Cosmos flower, 9.9.21

I love Cosmos flowers even though they herald the end of our summer. September is often a warm, sunny month in the Charente-Maritime – still beach weather. The coloured Cosmos self-seed but I try to add variety by sowing some fresh bought seed although I do not think they are so successful. I often end up finding little seedlings struggling here and there and transplant them to sunnier spots. Cosmos love the sun and I can never find enough sunny spots for them in the garden.

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.

8 thoughts on “A Week in Flowers, Day 6

  1. My neighbours have a fine hedge of this but they have not done well this year which I attribute to the cold wet summer.

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  2. Love cosmos. My neighbor grows Altea–I know it as Rose of Sharon–and insects adore it.

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  3. Hibiscus are so pretty, but leaf out so late and lose their leaves so early in our part of Germany. It is good that you can use them as a hedge! Cosmos are lovely colourful flowers for late summer and I love them too. I also scatter seed and grow small plants in pots in spring, but it is always a matter of luck which do well! Have a good day Amelia!

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  4. Beautiful hibiscus – and photograph. I wish cosmos would seed for me. It doesn’t seem to like seeding on my clay, although fortunately there are other ‘takers’! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love cosmos, but have trouble with the pink/white varieties getting mildew, whereas the orange/yellow C. sulphureus do much better here. Do you have those in your area?

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  6. I have not had any problems with mildew with the coloured cosmos. They can get a bit leggy at the end of the season. The orange/yellow Cosmos sulphureus self seeds everywhere and I love it. It is so rugged it will grow in the cracks of paths. It provides so much colour, and of course the bees love it. Amelia

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