We have been having a cold spell which has kept me out of the garden. It is not just the cold but the grey skies and lack of sunshine has left the leaves unraked. It is a job I reserve to keep me occupied in the garden when it is sunny.
Yesterday afternoon we had snow. The flurry did not last long and it had melted before the morning.
The Hellebores were covered with snow but are showing no sign of flowering.
This will be the first really cold weather for some of the new plants. The Azara looks like a mini Christmas tree but is hardy enough as we have only been having lows down to a minimum of minus three degrees Centigrade.
I have to thank Kourosh for these photographs because I stayed by the fire.
From the middle of November we have been having rain, at last. That means less days sitting watching the garden in the sun and more time viewing it from the inside.
At least the Lagerstroemia is getting enough rain to drain the leaves of their precious nutrients and allow the dry shells to fall. Gradually the bark is becoming mature and starting to peel.
The Salvia leucantha is still going strong, and with the bees and its long stems in constant motion, it draws your attention as soon as you look outside.
The saffron has been harvested and although I did not think it was as plentiful as last year my harvest was 5.5 grams against 3.8 grams of last year.
We had an unexpected harvest from our Acca sellowiana or feijoa bush this year. Perhaps it was just the very hot summer but it was the first time that our plants had given fruit. We had planted them as the pretty flowers attract the bees and had not really expected them to give fruit and we were surprised at how good they tasted.
Our Eriobotrya japonica is in full flower at the moment but I can only smell the lovely perfume when I go to the bottom of our garden which has not been so frequent in this rainy period.
The flowers attract a lot of pollinators including the Asian hornet. I just hope the fruits will manage to set before we get really cold weather as we had no fruit last year.
Although this year we had hardly any apples or pears, at least our Malus has given fruit for the birds.
The birds come to have a bath even in the rain, so this is something else that we can watch from the window. I think this is a female black cap (Sylvia atricapilla).
In the back garden the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) has changed to its autumn colour and today the leaves are falling waiting to be gathered in for composting.
My Hydrangea from the Savill Gardens in the U.K. is keeping dusty pink flower heads, the soft colours in keeping with the autumn tones.
In the front garden I am still enjoying sitting outside and eating lunch on a small portable table as the big one has been stored away as we felt the warm weather could not last – but it has.
Our Salvia leucantha growing in a pot in the patio supplies us with plenty to watch as the bumble bees love it.
The carder bumble bees are Kourosh’s favourite.
The hummingbird hawk moth is a constant visitor and has the right equipment to get to the nectar of these salvias.
This bright blue salvia is in a pot too but will get put into the garden as soon as it has finished flowering.
This salvia has a beautiful flower.
I find it grows too tall. The wall is about two and a half metres. I thought it might grow less when I moved it to the front garden last year as it gets a lot of sun here. It has grown just as tall in its new position and I just think it looks leggy. Any suggestions?
We are still waiting for proper rain to give the garden a good soak after this hot, dry summer.
Nothing is the same this year and now our spring flowering Prunus “Accolade” has started flowering.
After a pleasant break in the Auvergne region of France, it was good to get back to the garden. We visited the Puy de Dôme, an extinct volcano towering 1650 metres high and providing an amazing viewpoint of the area. It is possible to access the summit by foot, or a charming train can take you up and down. We asked if it was possible to take the train up and then come down by foot. We were told this was quite possible but it was not mentioned that the “goats’ path” would not lead you back to where we started from but to another carpark at some distance from the main centre where we were parked. Luckily, we enjoy walking but the extra leg was more than we bargained for.
There had been some rain for the garden while we were away and the Cosmos had taken over a corner of the front garden as I had not had the heart to weed out the self-sown plants.
Today some of the flowers are finishing and it has attracted the Godfinches (Carduelis carduelis).
The adults are very brightly coloured with distinctive red heads.
I am not a birder but I think there were quite a few immature birds in the group.
Perhaps someone might know if these are females or young birds.
There was a constant movement of birds in the Cosmos – I can count five birds in the photo above.
We were amused to watch them patiently wait their turn until the sparrows finished splashing around and drinking from the bird bath.
Eventually the sparrows move on.
It makes me wonder if they are the same birds from the little nest that the goldfinches hid amongst the leaves of one of our Hibiscus syriacus at the front of our house in July.
Our department of the Charente Maritime (plus another eleven departments) have been placed on a red alert because of the predicted high temperatures – approaching 40 degrees Centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Depending on where you live this may seem extreme or not.
It feels pretty hot to me but luckily we live in an old stone house that will stay cool until this stretch of extreme weather passes. We were booked to go with friends to an evening outside meal with music at our village tomorrow but all outside entertainment has been stopped including outside markets until the weather cools.
The bees are hot and fan in front of their entrances. The trees behind them protect them from the worse of the direct sun and there is insulation under the roof.
Kourosh thought of the old type of coolers that pushed air through wet straw and has sprayed the wooden entrances to increase the efficiency of the bees fanning.
We always leave plenty of water out for the bees and they need it, especially in the heat.
There is a particular crush around this local stone which is limestone and soaks up the water well.
It is not only the bees that appreciate the water and the bath is perfect for a morning dip for the robin.
It is too hot to go walking and too hot at the beach for me. I have checked out the Magnolia tree this morning and the bees had already set upon the flowers with gusto. The flowers do not last a day once they have opened.
The hummingbird hawk moth is back in the lavender.
I find it difficult staying inside and so check out the garden for only short periods.
There are little bees nesting in tiny tunnels in the house walls. I do not know what they are so that will give me something to think about. If you have any ideas please drop me a hint.
The back garden is a mixture of bare trees, leafing trees and blossom.
I don’t want the Nashi and the Accolade flowering cherry to finish.
In the front garden there is plenty of colour even although most of the daffodils have finished.
The Eleagnus umbellata trees are full of flowers and attract honeybees.
I would highly recommend Eleagnus umbellata if you were looking for a fast growing small tree. I bought 10 at 1.71 euros each and shared some with friends. That was in February 2017 and they have grown rapidly. I like them as trees but they can also be used as a hedge. They survive our dry summer weather which is a great plus.
Another beauty is the Malus coccinella, it was bought in February 2020 and is smothered in flowers just now (one of the Eleagnus umbella trees is behind it in this photograph, slightly to the right.)
I do not want the blossom of the Malus to finish but it will eventually be replaced with small ornamental apples that were appreciated and completely finished by the birds in the winter.
The weather continues to seesaw from our recent summer-like temperatures to overnight lows near zero. We took our lemon tree back inside yesterday, we knew that the it would only be a short warm spell at this time of year. Still the frog was able to sunbathe in its leaves some of the days. Can you see it so perfectly camouflaged? (Hint, towards bottom left.)
At least we are having more sun than was predicted but when I look at all the blossoms and flowers I feel like shouting at the garden – Slow down you move too fast, you’ve got to make the springtime last!
If I had only one word to describe the garden today it would be “Hellebores”. I did not do my usual moving of self-seeded plants last autumn but the plants I have moved in previous years are providing so many flowers after another dark, damp week here. The bees love them and gather the pollen until the flower ages and the stamens fall off.
The noisiest part of the garden is near the plum tree, although patches of Hellebore try to rival the plum tree for the highest “buzz” volume.
The plum tree opened up this week but today was the first sunny day that we could appreciate it properly. The flowers are full of honey bees, bumblebees and other pollinators.
We are told that hazel pollen is a very important early pollen for bees. I never see our catkins mobbed with bees like some of our flowers so I was glad to catch this bee this morning with a heavy load of hazel pollen.
Likewise I have recently added Cornus mas or Cornelian Cherry to the garden as the pollen is supposed to be high in protein so I was glad to see the bees on the flowers.
Our first Camelia flower opened today. I hope we will be having more sunny days to enjoy it when it is fully opened.
Rain or sun we can watch our birds from the windows.
This plant tray stays outside our kitchen window and is the bathing place for the birds.
Kourosh thinks it is some type of warbler. Its feathers look incredibly downy.
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.