a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


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Signs of autumn

Some of the leaves on the trees are turning golden and a few are scattered on the ground yet at the same time the bees can still find some flowerlets on the last of the lavender bushes to flower.

The quince tree has produced enough fruit for us but as usual they are not perfect and the worm eaten parts have to be cut out before they are used.

The sedum is just starting to colour and already the bumble bees come for the early open flowers.

The second crop of raspberries is doing well, thanks to recent rain and of course the bumble bees that assiduously visit their insignificant flowers.  It always seem to be the carder bumble bees that visit the raspberries at this time of year.

The Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) or pourpier is happy to see the rain.  This one is growing in my vegetable garden and trying its best to impersonate parsley, but I was not to be fooled.

I get large patches of this and it can be quite invasive.  It can be eaten as a salad vegetable but I confess I have never got passed the “having a nibble” stage.  It is O.K. and I should really pick some and try and make a real salad of it.

I was reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and she writes that one evening Thomas Cromwell had a salad of purslane.  It was a popular dish in Tudor times so I should not ignore it.  Does anyone else eat it?

This year we have had a lot of apples from our four apple trees.  We have given them away, I have made apple jelly and will later make chutney and Kourosh has taken charge of bottling them as compote.

Our favourite for eating is the Reine de Reinettes which is a sweet crisp apple that also is very good to cook.  It reminds me a bit of Cox’s Orange Pippin.  August seems so early to have so many apples.

At least the tomatoes have decided to ripen but I think I will have plenty of green ones this year for chutney.

In the meantime the extra tomatoes go in the pot for coulis to be frozen for the winter.

Will my butternut squash ripen before the winter?

Will this be a cold winter, for there seems to be more rose hips on the roses?

Hiding under a pot of geraniums this baby mouse was too young to run away.  Instead he rolled over to try and shelter under the leaves.  With all the fallen apples around I expect he will find plenty of food to grow up with and store away for the winter. whatever the weather throws at us.

 


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August draws to a close

Garden

August has been hot.  The garden has survived.  We have had two recent thunderstorms with rain to relieve the parched plants.  I am creating a new border on the left hand side and had new plants and cuttings that had to be watered, I just had not the time to go round all the established plants but all have survived except for my fragrant Skimmia that I had raised as a cutting from Aberdeen.  I did water it but it could not take this year’s temperatures and fierce sun.

Perennial sunflower

What has done well for this hot, dry year is the perennial sunflower.  They grow two metres tall providing a temporary hedge and provide lots of nectar and pollen for all takers.

Marshmallow

My cutting of the wild Marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis) that grows near here has done well.  Now I have the pleasure of watching the bees gather the pink pollen in my own garden.

A walk

It has been the rare days when it has been cool enough for me to go out for our usual walks.  I have missed that this year.

Brambles

The sight of brambles always spurs me on to make some jelly for the winter time.

Brambles and ivy

So the brambles were collected mid August early in the morning before the sun got too high.

Bramble jelly

I like making jelly as I make the jelly the day after I strain it which splits the preparation time into more manageable segments.  I’ve still got some juice that I have frozen awaiting the quieter (?) days in the winter.

Chutney

As the apples started to fall off the trees I made chutney with them and red tomatoes.

Swallowtail Papillo machaon

I became gradually suspicious of the baby Caryopteris my sister gave me last autumn.  It started off very small but in recent weeks has had an amazing growth and has produced very distinctive flowers.  I shall forgive her as I would never have got such a good shot of the Swallowtail butterfly and we need something to temporarily screen the hives from the road.  The buddleia  will be transplanted in the autumn.

Lampides boeticus

On the subject of butterflies – I thought I knew what these were when I saw the little tails on their wings.  I thought they were short-tailed blues but in fact they are long-tailed blues (Lampides boeticus) – not that their tails look very long to me.

Long tail blue

From another angle you can see that the male is blue on his upper side.

Belle de Nuit

Belle de nuit (Mirabilis jalapa) is not one of my favourite flowers but it always pops up somewhere at this time of the year.

Yellow Belle de Nuit Mirabilis jalapa

This will probably be due to furtive seed sowing by my husband who does like them, especially the yellow ones.  The perfume is very distinctive.  Wikipedia says it is similar to tobacco flowers, which I disagree with.  It reminds me of something I cannot place, with a “cheap perfume” odour.  Has anyone any other descriptions of its perfume?

Frog in a hole

I sympathised with our little tree frog who escaped out of the heat into a hole in the wall of the house.  I have never seen him there before.

Under tree

But the August highlight was when littlest grandchild came for a visit.

Apple grab

So many apples to eat!