a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A Week in Flowers, Day 7

19 Comments

Queen carder bumble bee on Aster, 22.9.21

It is only during the last few years that I have started growing Asters. I do not know quite how I missed them. Now they are a huge part of the flowers in my autumn garden. However, this year I was beginning to think that perhaps some of them were changing from flourishing to dominating. I don’t suppose it is too big a problem as it involves a short growing variety that will have to be controlled in the borders. The Asters attract all sorts of bees and butterflies. They provide an excellent reason to prolong your morning coffee break checking out what the Asters have attracted.

Saffron flower with bumblebee, 12.10.21

The Saffron flowers pop up in October. They provide the perfect resting place for tired bumblebees and I often find one still “in bed” when I look early in the morning.

This finishes my “Week in Flowers” hosted by Cathy of “Words and Herbs”.

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.

19 thoughts on “A Week in Flowers, Day 7

  1. I love that photo of the bee dozing in your saffron crocus! Asters are an important part of my garden too, but I haven’t found them seeding around too much yet. Thank you for joining in this week Amelia. I have enjoyed seeing more of your garden and plants. 😃

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  2. A lovely end to a happy week – must show my husband your saffron crocus. He got me planting them this year, but there were no flowers. Hope they haven’t drowned in the rain! Asters and agastache are my favourite late bee and butterfly plants.

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  3. A lovely dozing bee! My asters are in containers and really need releasing.

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  4. I had a bombus lucorum (I think), the white tailed one, visiting my cyclamen yesterday. It was cold but sunny. I was surprised to see her out and about.
    bonnie in provence

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    • The new bumblebee queens hibernate in winter and only come out if it is a little warmer, they get warmed up by the sun. We have seen less this year because it has been so dull and cloudy. Amelia

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      • So might this have been a new queen? She was certainly in the sun at the warmest part of the day. I would love that!
        bonnie in provence

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        • At this time of year, she is definitely a new queen. They will visit any winter flowers in your garden. They love mahonia flowers, Viburnum tinus (laurier tin) flowers, hellebores, and winter flowering honeysuckle. Amelia

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          • Fantastic. I have mahonia and viburnum tinus, lots of it, also some hellebores. I have a honeysuckle that isn’t the winter flowering one, but it has a few flowers on it. Also sages, santa barbara daisies, and a few roses still with flowers, so hopefully she will be able to get thru the winter okay! Thanks….
            bonnie in provence

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            • I think that is why you are seeing a queen bumblebee. They have found a good place to hibernate in your garden to be close to a nectar source. So why not make a nest nearby in the spring :).

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              • Last summer we had quite a lot of this white tailed bee, so perhaps they have nests on the property. I have bee hotels so get quite a lot of different bees, not all of which I can identify. My other nest of bumblebees which I wrote about before seem to have gone in the last couple of weeks. They were not the white tailed ones, and there were several nests of them on the property in the lambs ears.
                bonnie

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  5. Love that picture of resting bumblebee in saffron crocus!

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  6. I am sorry to be a bit late with this. Can I complicate matters a little by mentioning that here in Totnes I regularly see worker bumblebees collecting pollen in winter as part of winter active nests. I may also see queens. They are B.terrestris.

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    • That is very interesting. Actually I saw a bumble bee nearly a week ago with pollen. It must have been B.terrestris but I did not think she was necessarily a queen. However it has been so cold recently that nothing has been coming out onto the flowers. So my question is “How does a bumble bee keep feeding the larvae during a cold spell?” Perhaps, they lose larvae during the cold spells. They do not have the numbers of workers in the nest to keep it as warm as the honeybees – I would imagine. Maybe their subterranean nests are warmer? Lots of questions! I did not think you would have active nests as far north as the U.K. I am surprised to see them here but then I hate the cold. Amelia

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  7. Thanks Amelia, I saw workers with pollen yesterday but it has been quite mild for some time here. There are many questions about this phenomenon and I woulkd guess, as you suggest, that some colonies dont make it to completion but down by the coast I do see males in December (with queens and workers) so some must have gone through to that stage.

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    • I have never noticed male bumblebees in December. Honeybee queens are supposed to leave the nest only once in their life to be fertilised and can keep laying fertile eggs for 3-5 years. Perhaps bumblebee queens could start off more than one colony if the first encountered a cold spell ?

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