a french garden


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It’s been hot!

Laurier rose

I have found the high temperatures of this summer difficult in the garden but there are some things that do well in the heat,  like this white oleander outside the house.  It was a mild winter and it was not frozen so it is looking its best ever.  I would have never have planted it if I had known that it really needs to be protected in the winter here.  However, I coddled it and wrapped it while it was little.  Now if it freezes I will just cut of the damaged parts and trust that it will survive.

Hydrangea

The Hydrangea has lapped up the sun and temperatures in the high 30’s centigrade (we managed to get to 40 degrees centigrade one day).

Baby Hydrangea

Even its little cuttings that are going into their second summer in a rough, dry spot beside a wall are surviving well.

Hydrangea Savill gardens

Not all the plants get such a tough treatment.  I bought this Hydrangea, called “Savill Garden”, at Savill Gardens last October when they still had a lovely show of Hydrangeas.  It is in my new “stick border” where I have to mark the new plants with a stick to make sure they don’t get lost in the weeds and I am watering these until they get established.

Canna

The Canna has done a grand job in providing a screen where trees have either fallen down or been removed along my “stick border”.

Choisia Aztec pearl

My lovely Choisia “Aztec Pearl” was moved last autumn to provide hedging but was not such a good choice as the Canna.  It may well succumb to heat stroke despite my improvised parasol.

Lupin

I only managed to raise five plants out of a whole packet of lupin seed I started inside in the autumn.  They are supposed to flower in the first year but I’ll be lucky if they survive to next year.

Hibiscus tronum

A happier outcome of my seed sowing are these Hibiscus tronium.  I saw these during my visit to the Savill Garden last October.  They are also called “Flower of an Hour” as the flowers do not last longer than a day.  They were growing and flowering in a shady part of the garden in October although they are supposed to like hot, sunny spots.  These are in a pot in full sun but I have others in the ground and I am looking forward to seeing where they will grow over here.

Stick garden

At least the middle part of the “stick garden” is starting to take shape.

Willows

It now completes the circle started by the willows (Salix alba Chermesima) I planted in January of 2014.

Thyme

The thyme and ..Chaomille

the chamomile planted under the willows have provided a good ground cover.

First squash

Our first butternut squash has appeared as have the tomatoes and courgettes.

bee in pumpkin

The squash and courgettes provide good early morning entertainment watching the bees hunt for the nectar at the base of their flowers then struggling out covered with the pollen.

Gourd 2

My husband planted some decorative gourd seed this year and I am looking forward to seeing the different shapes.  He also bought a half price packet of wild flower seed at the supermarket check out – lured by the reduction and the picture of Maya the Bee on the front of the packet.  The seeds have been planted at the bottom of the garden as a special patch for the bees.   We will see how it turns out.

Plum tree

The plum tree provides a deep shade and a pleasant resting place for the blackbirds and other birds who do not share the sweet plums 50:50 with us.  The chairs have to be upended and the table well washed before using it at this time of year.  A radio placed in the branches playing France Inter will keep the birds at bay long enough to set the table.

Baby wren

This is the time to watch the antics of the baby birds in the garden.  This baby wren was quite happy to stay in my gardening shoes on the patio.  It is embarrassing to post a photograph showing the state of my gardening shoes but it could have been worse – it might have been a photograph showing the state of my gardening trousers.

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The Savill Garden visit October 2014

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I was very fortunate on my last trip back to the U.K. to be able to visit the Savill Garden on a beautiful sunny day.  In addition, they are exhibiting sculpture in the garden between the 1st. September and 31st October 2014 and I was interested to see how I felt about sculpture in gardens.

Bronze pheasant

There is a bronze pheasant running across the grass in the first picture which is quite in keeping with the garden as there are real ones here too.

Flora

The next sculpture I passed was “Flora” who was beautifully set against the background of the autumn woods.  She is much too grand for my garden but the sculptures are for sale.  I am not sure how I stand here as I am not wanting to advertise them but if you visit the garden you can see how many copies are available and what the price is as they are labelled.  You would need more than two thousand pounds if she is just the perfect addition to a corner of your garden.

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This cheetah, made out of bronze/iron resin, is almost half the price and perfect for the garden with an African savannah feel.

Hibiscus trionum

I was more interested in these Hibiscus trionum which were flowering profusely in a rather shady part of the garden.  They are also called Flower of an Hour as the flowers only last a day but the abundant flowers also leave attractive seed heads.  I would have thought they would have preferred a sunnier spot and I want to try them in my garden next year.  They are annuals or short-lived perennials and best sown annually from seed.

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Not all the sculptures were over a thousand pounds and these black wire mesh crows could be bought singly or as a set of three.

Roe buck

The Roe Buck and fawn in bronze resin did not have me fooled as they rested near a screen of greenery.

Owl

I do not have an artistic nature but I was surprised at the pose of some of the statues.  This little owl in bronze resin had been placed in a beautiful old tree but perched on a piece of wood totally foreign to its environment.

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I have my favourite plants in the garden now and I was heading for the temperate house and the Mahonia X Media “Charity”.

Carder bumble bee in mahonia

I was not disappointed as this beautiful plant was in flower and full of honey bees and bumble bees enjoying the nectar in the sunshine.

Magnolia seed pod

Close beside the Mahonia there is a Magnolia tree with surprisingly rose red seed pods, much different from the seed pods I get on my Magnolia so I checked out its label.

Champion Tree

I mentioned to my husband that I never knew that another name for Magnolia was Champion tree.  It was not until I got home and looked into it further that I discovered that it is this particular Magnolia that is designated a Champion Tree because it is a registered tree.  As you can see it has been recorded and measured in 2010 and you can follow the link to learn more.

Juglans nigra

We were very taken by the beautiful walnut tree that was dropping its ripe fruit, but when my husband accidentally stepped on one we noticed the different odour given off by the green case around the nut.  Checking on the label we noted that this is a Juglans nigra, or Eastern Black Walnut which is native to eastern North America and not the Juglans regia that I am more familiar with.

Juglans nigra

The fruit looks just the same from the outside but the shells are harder and more difficult to crack than the European walnut.  I would imagine the flavour would be slightly different too but I have never tasted one.

Arbetus arachnoides

Close by is another favourite tree, Arbutus arachnoides.  I find its peeling bark more attractive than Arbutus unedo , the strawberry tree that is native to France, but I have never seen the arachnoides variety on sale.

bumble on Arbutus arachnoides

The flowers look exactly the same and the bees were feasting on them gratefully.

Persicaria

Another flower attracting a lot of attention from the bees was the Persicaria vacciniifolia.  I would like to have a bank of low flowers giving colour in the autumn in my garden,so I treated myself to a Persicaria to take back with me, but it was the Darjeeling Red variety that I found.

Shaggy dog

This “Shaggy Dog Story” in bronze resin is the ideal solution for the gardener with allergies and at just over a thousand pounds must work out a lot cheaper than the real thing counting food and vet bills.

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Some of the sculptures were in metal.

dragonfly

A metal dragonfly hovered over the waterlillies.

dragonfly on pond

This picture gives an idea of the scale and positioning of the dragonfly.

Savill Garden

With gardens like this I would not feel the need of any man made enhancements.

Pouncer

But perhaps this “Pouncer” would add some drama.

Self contained man

Or the “Self contained Man” might provide a centre point, although I find his positioning here beside the metal railings far from sympathetic.

Ligularia fischeri

I preferred discovering flowers and plants in the garden that are new to me like these tall yellow Ligularia fischeri, “Cheju Charmer”.

bumble on Ligularia

And it is not just because the bees liked the flowers but I think they would appreciate growing in a garden with moister soil than I could offer them.

Cardriandra

It is just sheer coincidence that this photograph of Cardiandra formosana “Crug’s Abundance” happens to have a carder bumble bee in it.  I was taken by its colours which are so different from the usual autumn colours.  Another plant for my wish list.

Acer

It was such a beautiful visit and perfect timing to see what can be done in a garden in the autumn.