Autumn in August

If autumn makes you think of falling leaves, then that’s what is happening in the garden now.

The grass is dried to a crisp, in fact it is tinder dry. There have been many forest fires in France set off by accidental sparks coming from farm machinery etc. The forest fire in the Landes region just south of here was started by a pyromaniac volonteer fireman and consumed 6,200 hectares of pine forest. Unfortunately, many other regions have suffered forest fires and the heat and drought continues.

It seems trivial after the fires to complain that my Liquidambar tree has yellow leaves that are carpeting the ground underneath it

The old plum tree that lost all its flowers in a late frost is now dropping its leaves. I hope this is its way to stay alive as there is no way to water these trees.

In amongst the desiccated grass there are still clumps of weeds like the cat’s ears that somehow manage to store enough moisture in their long tap roots to produce leaves and flower, and are much appreciated by the bees.

The Dahlias must survive thanks to their tubers and even manage to accept the scorching sun on their leaves better than the Hellebores which have become yellow leaved and exhausted looking.

The Japanese Anemones survive in the drought and the scorching sun. They are surrounded by a host of tiny bees and I should use them more but I find them so difficult to control.

I have patches of Yellow Cosmos in the front garden but these do need to be watered at the moment although I would say that they are moderately drought and heat tolerant.

It cheers me up to watch the variety of bees that they attract. This is a Megachile (centuncularis, I think). It is slightly larger than a honey bee and sometimes chooses a Cosmos already occupied by another bee knowing that the surprised bee quickly cedes its place. Pushy creature!

I can’t forget the honeybees!

I have not been working in the garden lately because of the high day time temperatures. We are now in our third period of “canicule”, that is a period of high day and night time temperatures that last at least three consecutive days. We have never had such a hot dry summer and it is forecast to last at least until Sunday.

I am glad for my pots of flowers near the door. This blue sage does well in a pot and I could always plant it our in the autumn.

My tub of Antirrhynums have been a great success and were very easy to grow from the seeds I collected last year. They attract the bumble bees that squeeze themselves inside.

My two Heptacodium jasminoides (or miconioides) have started flowering. They are in a very hot dry part of the garden but they belong to the honeysuckle family so I hope they will not suffer to much. Once in full flower, they will be covered with bumble bees.

I have made use of the sun and heat and cleaned up the wax from the cappings of the honey frames. You can see how I did it if you look zigzag at the collage above ( I have no longer access to the carousel feature with my free site). I forgot to wash the cappings of excess honey but the wax still came out clean. Today I am processing my friend’s cappings and I have remembered to wash them first!

25 thoughts on “Autumn in August

  1. Paddy Tobin

    You certainly have extreme heat. We have 29C here in south-east Ireland today and are remaining indoors. Our garden is reacting in much the same way as yours.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mine survived for many years in a very dry, sunny spot but I must admit they “survived” and did not really flower until late in the season and then sparingly as I was trying to get rid of them. I am sure you will not lose yours even if they go brown. Amelia

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness, what an intense summer! I was hoping you were getting a break in the heat by now. My heart goes out for you and your garden and bees. I hope your old plum can hang in there and that cooler weather and quenching rain finds your area soon! We’re still in drought here in CA too; the field grasses look like yours. Wildfires are a scary new reality (their increased frequency and size). We got a kind of water cart to take water to distant trees to try to keep them alive until (hopefully!) normal winter rainfall returns. It’s all changing so fast. Hard to adapt!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Amelia,
    Good to see that the garden is still looking lovely in spite of the heat and drought, and that many of the insects are still thriving. I hope too that your local water supplies are holding up – it seems many in Europe are now having to contemplate issues like water supplies running out, and the risk of landscape fire damage, in a way that hasn’t featured in our thoughts before. I wonder how your honeybees have fared, and whether it’s been a good/poor year for their/your honey with all the extreme heat?
    Best wishes
    Julian

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There was less honey than usual, but we had expected that. It was mainly sweet chestnut honey that they had gathered in the spring. As long as we get rain soon, the ivy should revive and provide them with their usual stock for the winter. Rain is forecast for Monday, so I hope they have got it right. There are no hosepipe bans yet in our area but I try to be as sparing as I can with the watering. It is mainly the vegetables that we water but even those are doing poorly in the heat. As for the insects, there is a noticeable lack of mosquitos. Although personally happy about not getting bitten, it does seem bad news for the food chain. The slugs and snails are also marked by their absence. We have got glow worms still in the garden, which surprised me as I thought the larvae needed snails to reproduce. Could they manage on worms? Our compost heaps are the only suitable breeding ground that I could think off. I am glad we are not near any pine forests. A fire was declared not far from Bordeaux last night and that is too close for comfort. Amelia

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Amelia, and interesting about the effects on other species too, and that you’ve been spared hosepipe bans, which is a surprise, but I guess it’s all about more local water storage and supply constraints. Living in normally wet West Wales, we’re now thinking about some sort of rainwater harvest/storage system. It seems only a matter of time before our spring supply will fain in extended hot/dry periods like this year .
        Best wishes
        Julian

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I saw that in the UK they have been filling in the holes in golf courses. I have been told (i.e. no verification) that in Royan all the beautiful floral roundabouts and the golf course are watered by tankers containing water waste from the sewage treatment that is clean but not deemed suitable for human consumption. Interesting. Amelia

          Liked by 1 person

  4. You still have a few flowers for the bees at least. 👍 The very same situation here, and we are worrying about our trees and shrubs that are burnt black or dropping leaves. I am hoping some of the berries will survive for the birds later on. I have more or less given up on the flower beds and am concentrating any hand watering on the vegetables and fruit trees. A good tip for watering trees or shrubs effectively is to put a tiny weeny hole in a large bucket and fill it and place at the base of the tree – instant drip irrigation! We have about 30 buckets with lids we leave half open so there is no vacuum effect. Heavy to cart around though. Good luck with keeping your garden going Amelia and hope we all get some decent rain soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. We also have very hot weather (about 30 degrees today) but the garden is just about holding up. Lavender is currently thronged with bumblebees and a large patch of marjoram is very popular with honeybees and some small lasioglossum. It’s amazing how they keep going. Yesterday an agricultural vehicle caught fire in fields on the other side of town and a large amount of stubble was engulfed in flames, alaming!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The threat of fire is so real during a drought. Sparks can be caused accidently by vehicles trailing metal on asphalted roads. With the grass so dry any odd spark can ignite it. As you say – alarming. We are just under 40 degrees at the moment, it is not pleasant. Amelia

    Like

  7. We are eagerly awaiting rain forecast for Monday, I think parts of France will get it too, hope it reaches you on the western side. This weather reminds me a lot of Jordan where I spent some of my childhood and where it’s not possible to have a garden without a drip origination system or daily watering. Things are changing very fast and it looks like we will have to find new ways of gardening. Good luck and hang on in there till the rain comes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I make some lotion bars and a few candles. My big project for the winter is making some of my own foundation with the wax that I have been saving up. I have a silicone mould but it is a bit tricky to use. If I perfect my technique (:)) I have a friend with more wax and a burning desire to make his own foundation.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I never wash the honey out of the cappings. Sacrilege! The honey sinks to the bottom and I easily remove the wax once it’s hardened enough. Then I pour the honey into a container and use it for cooking. It’s lovely and strong (with a few wax flakes) and since it’s already been heated, I don’t feel guilty cooking with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Laura, I was quite brief with my description of my wax processing as I did not think it would be of general interest. I leave the cappings to drain of all the honey before I take them for washing. In France the honey drained from the cappings is thought to have special properties and we keep that for ourselves :). We have a friend who takes several boxes of his cappings with the honey before it is drained and eats the mixture with fromage blanc. He likes the cappings mixed in with the honey. I have tried it and the cappings do melt in the mouth, more so than with the full natural comb. Amelia

      Like

      1. I guess not everyone is obsessed with wax and honey 😊

        I too drain all that I can from the cappings before melting because raw honey is my favourite. But I’m always surprised how much is left after several days of draining. When I used to sell honey there were some people that specifically asked for my baker’s honey and were disappointed when I didn’t have any (I was asked why I didn’t make more – I explained I didn’t make honey, my bees did 🤣). On rare occasions I’ve put the cappings out for the bees to clean up – the only thing left at the end of the day is a pile dry wax crumbles.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s