A Week in Flowers, Day 7

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”.

A Week in Flowers, Day 6

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.

A Week in Flowers, Day 5

Rose Veilchenblau 31.5.21

Now our summer is starting at the end of May. I have a confession to make – I am not a rose person!

I find they need too much care and fussing to get the most out of them. Kourosh looks after our roses and I just grumble a bit if they are not perfect.

Veilchenblau gets a special pass from me as I find it so special. Perhaps because it only flowers once in the season that I appreciate it more. Also the bees adore the flowers.

Verbena bonariensis 20.7.21

When the self seeded Verbena bonariensis is flowering throughout the garden it means that we are in mid summer.

A Week of Flowers, Day 4

Manuka flowers, 5.5.21

We bought some Manuka bushes as a present for our honey bees and to see if we might get some interesting flavours in the honey. Well, so far it has worked in the reverse. We love the pink flowers but the honey bees have so far ignored them. At least some of the solitary wild bees appreciate them.

Hypericum, 9.6.21

My Hypericum has been grown from seed given to me by a friend who did not know the variety. It is probably “Hidcote” which is a very popular variety. The seeds were amazingly fruitful and the seedlings extremely sturdy, so I have a large reservoir of Hypericum plants I can pop into needy places in the garden. They reward you with prolific yellow flowers in the summer and require little care and attention.

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.

A Week of Flowers, Day 2

Hellebore, 25.2.21

In February the Helebore are flowering around the garden. I love these tough flowers. They will grow in shady spots and yet survive in sunny spots and take the beating summer sun. They like it in the garden and self-seed providing me with plenty of plants for ground cover in difficult spots.

Hyacinth, 1.3.21

By March the garden is filling up with the colour of the spring flowers. March is a colourful month. I have often grown Hyacinth in bowls indoors and they get a second life in the garden when I plant them out after their flowers pass.

Dark November

Chantecleer

November has become a cold dark month. We have been touched by a tragedy in our little hamlet that rocks the foundation of your thoughts and leads to introspection.

Willows

We gardeners who love our gardens and share them with the many visitors that pass through them have something truly precious. Others lack our interest, and November can be a dark time without interest or a kindred spirit to share hopes, exchange ideas and bask in the comfort of being with people of similar ideas.

It is difficult to reach out to people who have a different nature but we are all different. It is wrong to be too pushy but it is also wrong to relent too quickly.

I will try to open my eyes wider, to be more inclusive, to think more of others, not to be misguided by false smiles and easily obtained assurance that all is well. Perhaps, we can all make that phone call, email or coffee invitation that we have been putting off. Will it make a difference? I do not know.

In the meantime, Cathy of “Words and Herbs” has suggested we join her in a week of flowers, starting on the 1st December. It can be a difficult month but I admire her positive spirit.

Sunny November

We are still in autumn. The Koelreuteria tree in the front garden has lost its leaves but other trees are still holding onto theirs. When a breeze disturbs them, a snow of dead leaves floats down.

The weather has been fine with plenty of opportunities for walking.

We keep waiting for winter to set in and on Wednesday we had lunch outside on the terrace of our favourite restaurant by the sea. The sun was shining and people were sitting in the sun in T-shirts. We have had several “last” lunches outside this year!

Wednesday brought so much sunshine that this small copper butterfly settled on our Mme. Isaac Pereire rose in complete denial of the calendar date.

During the day the blue skies warm up the garden with strong sunshine.

However, the nights with clear skies bring low temperatures and we have found ice on the birds’ water dish in the morning.

I have decided to coddle my abutilons this year. I swore I would never keep fragile plants in the garden. The abutilons have been with us for years, their leaves freezing in winter and then shooting again in late spring. Now I feel they have been so courageous to survive that they are going to get some help.

We have also got a Salvia leucantha that will need protection soon.

I just cannot manage to do justice to this beautiful flower when I take a photograph. It too will get special attention.

The lemon tree is still outside. It will go into the spare bedroom with gro-lights during the day but I could not deprive it of the beautiful sunshine we have been having lately. We do protect it with a fleece at night if the skies are clear.

Today is cloudy and more autumnal.

I hope nevertheless to be able to still enjoy some more days sitting in the garden drinking our tisane, See who joined us on Wednesday morning.

Potter wasp in October

It is the end of October and the garden is changing into its autumn colours although the weather is mild and many of the plants are late in flowering.

This wasp is working late into the season too.

On the ninth of October this little potter wasp was making probably its last nest on our house wall. I always marvel at the perfect little pot she builds. It is not far from the birds’ water bath so she has plenty of water to make her “clay”, mixing soil and saliva with her mandibles.

I think she is Delta unguiculatum or Eumenes unguiculatum, whichever nomenclature is current. She will lay her egg on the top of her pot and will then bring in a paralysed caterpillar to become the nourishment of the growing larva.

Watch this short video to see her engrossed in her work.

These wasps are not aggressive and have never caused us any problems. In fact, she is a good natural pest control for the garden.

When all is finished it will be covered by more special mortar, to cover one or more little pots. Her offspring will stay inside, metamorphosing into the adult during the cold winter but she will never see them fly. Her work is finished, she will never see them fly because she will not survive the winter.

The offspring will, hopefully, join the flowers in the garden next spring.