I have divided this page into two parts. In the first part I have listed the cultivated plants that I have found growing in my garden on arrival. By cultivated, I mean those plants that I think were planted here on purpose for decorative (or productive) purposes, rather than those that appear to have self-sown. Lower down the page I have started a list of other plants that I might like to add to my garden in the future.
Part 1 – Cultivated plants in my garden
Butcher’s broom. Prickly shrub to 1m tall. Female plants have red berries which last more than 12 months, but only if there is a male nearby to pollinate them. Hermaphrodite forms are also available. Butcher’s broom suckers to make a thicket, is often found in woodland in the wild, and enjoys deep shade. Christopher Lloyd recommends thinning out stems regularly, as each only lives productively for 2-3 years. He also recommends planting it in combination with the evergreen fern, Polypodium interjectum ‘Cornubiense’. Propagation by division is the best method – grown from seed it can take 5-6 years to bear berries. So-named because butchers used to use a handful of it to wipe their chopping boards clean (ouch!).
Wisteria. The wisteria here is very overgrown and does not appear to have had any flowers this year. I intend to take all the excess whippy shoots off this summer, and prune it back hard and properly in the dormant season, hoping for some good flowers next year.
Mexican orange. There is a very neat, relatively small leaved specimen of this in the garden. I think it is probably one of the normal cultivars, but as it is growing in full sun it hasn’t gone all lanky like some that I have had in the past. It is obviously thriving here, so I may have to propagate it and plant some more.
Lavender. Of course. There are two areas where lavender has been planted. Most of it looks quite healthy – there are one or two plants getting a bit leggy, but I will see what a light pruning does for them when they finish flowering.
Honeysuckle. There is a very rampant and beautifully scented honeysuckle growing up onto the roof of a covered seating area. The flowers are white and yellow, so it may well be what I think of as ‘common honeysuckle’ (Lonicera periclymenum) rather than a specially bred variety, but I’m certainly not complaining!
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). This is growing squashed in behind the buddleia and a common dogwood. One of my favourites, I think I need to cut down the dogwood (which grows everywhere) to give this more space, and give it something to climb over, so it can become a feature of the garden.
Hibiscus. The hibiscus by the front door is the most beautiful shade of blue-purple, with a dark magenta centre. It’s a big healthy shrub, about six feet high by four or five feet wide, and it flowers for ages. I want more!
Common daylily. There are a couple of large clumps of daylilies in the front garden, and although it is the ‘common’ orange variety, the colour works beautifully, especially with the hibiscus above. Some more would be welcome.
Rosemary. There is a patch of rosemary which looks lovely and healthy, although it is in danger of getting swamped by the buddleia and cornus sanguinea.
Buddleia. To me this seems to be an unusual pink buddleia – maybe I am just more used to the more common purple ones. It is beautifully scented and a magnet for large butterflies, including some impressive swallowtail types. This could be another one to propagate.
Red valerian. There are several areas where this is growing, and it makes a welcome splash of colour. So far it has flowered throughout the early summer. It seems to be quite drought-tolerant.
Rosa rugosa. (Roseraie de l’Hay?) I have a row of these planted alongside a wall, but many of them are half dead. They need an irrigation system and a good sort out. There are also brambles and other weeds growing up amongst them. An area I need to tackle soon, but have so far been put off by the thorns, the brambles, and a small snake that we saw lurking in there!
Laburnum. (Internet photo). I have a nice multi-stemmed laburnum tree – unfortunately we did not get to see it in flower this year. Although the seeds are poisonous (read My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier) the dog does not seem to be trying to eat them so I think we are safe.
Oleander. I wanted an oleander bush, and it seems I’ve got one. Unfortunately it seems to have self-seeded almost under the tap by the front door. Seeing as they can reach tree-size, this is most definitely not the right place for it. I might take some cuttings from it before attempting to transplant it to a more suitable location.
Yarrow. I’m not quite sure whether this counts as a ‘cultivated’ plant or not, as it is also a wildflower/weed in some places. Anyway, I like it and it isn’t (yet) behaving in any unruly way!
Sempervivum. This seems to just grow, on the stone walls and in stony crevices, so again I’m not sure if it should be classed as ‘cultivated’, but some of them are nicely placed, and a bit of a feature, so I have included them here.
Stag’s horn sumac. Some would say garden plant, some would say weed! I may have to keep on top of its suckers, but I do like them, especially for their beautiful autumn colours.
Grapevine. I have three of these, planted as fruit-producing ornamentals, growing up various pergolas and balconies etc. I don’t know if they are all the same variety or not.
Lamb’s ears (stachys byzantina). There is a small patch of this growing happily, although fairly smothered by red valerian and lavender. With its silver colouring it is obviously happy in the sun.
Mint. There are several patches of mint here which have done what mint does – ie. they have taken over the flowerbed or are spreading out into the lawn. Luckily there is plenty of space, so they are welcome to spread.
Climbing rose. It’s smallish, it’s semi-double, it’s a pinky-red. I’ve no idea what it is! I have seen photos where this rose is flowering abundantly, but when we arrived it was overgrown and half dead. I have pruned it and given it some TLC and it has rewarded me with a smattering of roses. Hoping for a better display next year.
Photinia. Photinia has been used in several places as a bit of screening hiding a bit of fencing or the side of a shed. Whilst not one of my favourites it is doing a useful job.
Box. Box grows in the wild in France, and can grow to great heights. I assume the very informal box ‘hedge’ by our entrance was planted, but it fits in well with the local environment. It is 8 or 10 feet tall, and so far I have just loosely clipped the outer side to tidy it slightly, while still allowing it to sprawl naturally.
Bay. There was a great big hedge of bay growing alongside the front patio, which had reached roof-height and completely blocked the view from a window. I have taken about six feet off the top, and reduced the thickness to just a few feet, to allow some light into the living room.
Helianthus. A few straggly helianthus have appeared, giving a welcome splash of colour. They have grown a bit tall and then flopped, but hopefully I will be able to give them a boost so they come back stronger next year.
Purple hazel. The purple hazel is not in the best position, growing up (presumably accidentally) in the middle of a laurel hedge, but it is a lovely plant and is producing hazelnuts. I hope to propagate it and plant some others in more suitable positions.
Japanese wineberries. These unusual fruits are a type of raspberry. With small, slightly tacky-feeling berries that are bright red when ripe, they are like a slightly tart, whilst also sweet and juicy, raspberry. My Japanese wineberry canes are sprouting around the base of a large ash tree.
Fig trees. I have two mature fig trees, as well as a number of saplings growing up where they shouldn’t be. I do not yet know what variety they are, but going on the evidence of the breba figs on one of them, they are fairly large and golden yellow when ripe.
Apple trees. I have three apple trees, which have between them produced a grand total of four somewhat diseased apples this year. Two of the trees look relatively young and healthy, whilst the other is small and stunted, the main trunk having broken off or died at some point in the past. Some TLC needed, I think.
Apricot tree. The apricot tree looks relatively healthy, but again has borne no fruit. I am guessing that this is because the blossom got frosted in the spring.
Almond tree. The almond tree looks a little bit fragile – spindly and brittle branches, and again no sign of any nuts. It has been very tightly tied to its stake, which has started to damage the bark and may also have prevented it from producing strong anchoring roots.
Mulberry. The mulberry tree is a more mature specimen than most of the other fruit trees. It did have developing mulberries on it this year, but something seems to have eaten them before they got anywhere near ripe.
Part 2 – Wish list
This is probably a dangerous thing to do, and could grow arms and legs, but I thought I would start to make a list of some of the plants that I have seen growing in the area, that I might like to have in my garden one day (if my garden conditions and layout allow).
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’. I love purple leaved shrubs and trees, and this one has done well for me before. Sounds like it should thrive in France although I haven’t seen it here yet.
Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’. Slightly tender for UK so I hope it would do well in France. Or maybe Solanum jasminoides ‘Album’, although I do like the purple colour.
Viburnum Opulus, which I love for its bright red berries, or perhaps Viburnum Opulus Sterile/Roseum, which doesn’t have the berries but comes highly recommended with an AGM. I am not sure which one I have seen growing here in several places. The just-opening pale green pom-poms look fabulous entwined with purple wisteria.
Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ – not because the name is French but because it’s probably my favourite flower/shrub of all time. I have seen other Philadelphus growing in gardens, so hope that I will be able to grow this one.
Thyme – this may be Jekka’s Thyme (after Jekka McVicar). The bees seem to love it, and the leaves are very strongly aromatic.
Purple Bearded Iris (Iris germanica). This seems to grow everywhere around here so hopefully I might inherit some. It would look good along the base of the stone garden walls, either inside or outside the garden. Gorgeous scent.