The Spring Garden

Daffodils in Spring at Les Trois Chenes. Our 'Wishing Well' came in handy when our piped water froze!
Daffodils in Spring at Les Trois Chenes. Our 'Wishing Well' came in handy when our piped water froze! | Source

The Spring Garden in Limousin

Spring is a lovely time to be in Limousin. The French gardens are full of spring bulbs and flowers. The trees are full of blossom and the wild flowers bloom along the roadsides and the hedgerows.

Our garden is in the Natural Park Perigorde-Limousin, (or the Parc Naturel du Perigorde-Limousin), an area preserved because of the high quality of its landscape, natural resources and flora and fauna.

We are blessed with wonderful wildlife and a beautiful, rich and green environment and I like my garden to be natural and in keeping with this wonderful countryside.

Come to Limousin, enjoy the chestnut and oak woodlands when they are carpeted with bluebells and take a peek at my Spring garden.

Where is Limousin?

A markerLimousin -
Limousin, France
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A pretty garden in Spring is a must

I put a lot of effort into having a nice show in the garden for as long as possible and I love our garden at the start of the year.

First the snowdrops, of course, then the crocuses and the early Camellia come to lighten the end of the winter. Then the fruit trees, the daffodils, the tulips and the wild flowers join in. It really does gladden the soul.

These daffodils are growing in an old feeder that was left lying around the farm when I bought it. Since then I've found many other things to use as containers for plants. These are just a few ideas for what to grow in Spring and a few ideas for container planting.

My latest challenge is to have a wonderful garden in July and August!

I found this 'planter' in the barn. Ideal for spring bulbs
I found this 'planter' in the barn. Ideal for spring bulbs | Source

Container planting in Spring gardens

I'm not sure what this was used for, but last year I put my Datura in it. Unfortunately, the plant became too heavy for me to move easily and I was caught out by an early frost. (Lesson number one - take care of tender plants in plenty of time!) This year I put my tulips in but I'll look out for a larger plant to balance the scale of the container better.

Here in the Limousin, we are blessed by the rich variety of wildlife and delight in the deer that graze the adjacent fields, the barn owl that lives - yes- in the barn, the swallows, the wild boar, the Golden Orioles and the buzzards. We are also plagued by some of the little 'dears'.

We have slugs and snails and moles and mice. We have a sort of mouse which live below the ground and eats the bulbs from underneath, leaving just a stalk and leaves above ground. Growing the plants that they like to eat in containers helps to confound them. Once I started to look around for things to put my plants in, I found all manner of interesting receptacles!

Many of the photos here are available as Spring and Easter greetings cards

This is one of a range of greetings cards and many other gifts using photos taken by me from Les Trois Chenes, Limousin and France
This is one of a range of greetings cards and many other gifts using photos taken by me from Les Trois Chenes, Limousin and France | Source

Tulips are wonderful spring bulbs

Tulip bulbs
Tulip bulbs | Source
Winter pansies and tulips in April, lilies a little later on.
Winter pansies and tulips in April, lilies a little later on. | Source

Planting for months of colour

I planted this pig feeder up with winter pansies, tulips and lilies last autumn. The pansies did show their little faces a little and provide a bit of winter greenery, but as soon as April arrived they all pushed up, jostling for position. The tulips soon arrived. I do hope the pansies last until the lilies bloom. One small tip that really works and I'd like to pass on - fill the bottom of a deep container with polystyrene. It gets rid of the poly., it makes the container lighter, and it saves on potting compost.

These tulips are not from Amsterdam, but they are from Holland. Marcel, who runs the web site Krazartbrought them for us. The colours match the pansies by good luck rather than good planning but the colour scheme is something you should think about when planting. Remember that all the plants might not bloom at the same time, so you have an opportunity to ring the changes.

Question: Is there such a thing as a black tulip? Find out here

Lilacs scent the night.
Lilacs scent the night. | Source

Lilac by moonlight - fragrant spring flowers

Nights are wonderful in this part of France. We do have two street lights outside the house, so we are not 'kept in the dark' - for which I am grateful. But the general lack of light pollution here means that the skies are dark and are a mass of stars. The moon is often bright enough to see by. Here, I managed to catch the lilacs by moonlight. The nights are alive in the spring with bird song and the singing of the frogs. We have lots of nightingales here, but all birds here sem to sing all night, as well as all day in April.

The night air is heavy with the pungent perfumes of wisteria and lilac, and at this time we start to see our resident toad. If we are really lucky we'll see the barn owl or, as the French say 'La Dame Blanche' - The White Lady.

You can see here all the sedum stalks from last year are still on the plants. I leave them over winter so the birds can enjoy the seeds, but by April they should be cleared as the new shoots are well on the way.

The white garden has a long history and moonlight gardens also have a story to tell.

The geese eat the grass and the chickens eat the worms that would eat our apples!
The geese eat the grass and the chickens eat the worms that would eat our apples! | Source

Live in harmony with nature

Let me introduce our green lawn mowers - the geese! Here is a gander in fine form and the females are laying beautiful eggs to eat, and to decorate. In the background are our beautiful, old apple trees.

When we first arrived we were disappointed with our apples; they looked 'organic' (not a problem), but they didn't taste very nice at all! Now that I know more about Life in Limousin, I wonder if these trees were planted to provide apple juice and cider! Limousin is an apple-producing area and we have the most wonderful choice of varieties, superb 'real' apple juice (cloudy with a bit of a 'snatch'), and cider to make you change your mind about not liking cider!

Chickens and orchards

The hen house and the orchard have long associations; and for good reason! These two old apple trees are planted in the hen runs. The hens clean up the land, eating grubs and insects that would attack the apple crops. You can then run the geese and pigs (we don't have any pigs - yet) through the orchards in autumn to feed on any windfalls not edible or useful for cider-making). The sheep in the picture, are a miniature breed from Brittany, called Ouessants, and are one of the smallest known races of sheep. We keep them, like the geese, as ecological 'lawn mowers'.

Spring apple blossom

Blue skies and apple blossom. The sheep also 'mow' the grass for us.
Blue skies and apple blossom. The sheep also 'mow' the grass for us. | Source

Spring bulbs

Daffodils and pretty little spring bulbs (what are these?)!
Daffodils and pretty little spring bulbs (what are these?)! | Source
We love to sit under the cherry blossom on warm April days.
We love to sit under the cherry blossom on warm April days. | Source

Eating out in spring

'Dejeuner sur l'herbe'. What could be nicer than eating outside in the warm April sunshine under the cherry blossom? Here in Limousin, if you are lucky, you can be sunbathing in March. No wonder the French Impressionists painted so many pictures of picnics and meals outdoors.

Limousin is rich in natural treasures, but it's also rich in art. Just ten minutes from the medieval town of Rochechouart, we are surrounded by the heritage of the past. But the Limousin also fosters new talent. Rochechouart Chateau is now a centre for modern art.

It may also surprise you to learn that Monet worked in Limousin, and Jean Baptiste Corot painted the amazing rocks in the river at St Junien. This place, called 'Le site de Corot', is a super place to take the children. They love climbing on the rocks, can swim in the river, picnic on the benches and tear around the various woodland footpaths on the river banks. For the adults you can always visit the Porcelain factory shop 'La Vie en Rose'. The Museum of Limoges, Le musée de l’Évêché, has a rich collection of artifacts, including some important paintings by Renoir. Next to the museum is the cathedral, and the botanical and public gardens, Jardin de L'Eveche.

Limousin Gardens to visit

There are many lovely gardens to visit in Limousin. This video shows some of the beauty of the gardens behind the cathedral of Limoges (about fifty minutes from Les Trois Chenes). There is also an excellent botanical garden here, complete with good labelling.

Some of the gardens that you can visit from our guest house are listed below. There's a wide variety and the list is just the tip of the iceberg! The municipal planting is also exceptional. They like to remind you that Limousin is the 'bread basket' of France, and you'll find all sorts of fruit and vegetables incorporated into their bedding schemes.

Magnificent magnolia in a garden in St Gervais, next village to Videix
Magnificent magnolia in a garden in St Gervais, next village to Videix | Source

The local gardens are worth a look

You don't have to travel long distances to enjoy a garden. Limousin people love their gardens. They have superb potagers, but they also enjoy growing flowers and shrubs, often mixing the two together for maximum enjoyment and ecological benefits.

The magnolia bushes and trees make a particularly stunning picture. The wisteria is seen everywhere, climbing up the faces of the stone houses and barns or along fences, but sometimes you can see it trained into little 'japanese' shaped trees, and the tamarisk paint the gardens in Monet's colours. For anyone who loves painting and drawing plants and flowers, Limousin is the place for you.

Nettles and Japanese Quince
Nettles and Japanese Quince | Source

The edible garden

You can grow many varieties of vegetables in your flower borders. Some, like the ruby and rainbow chards, are wonderfully decorative. You will also find many other edible plants growing in your garden - whether you want them or not! I have nettles, dandelions, wild onions, self-sown flat-leaf parsley, self-sown lambs lettuce, sorrel and chickweed growing in our garden and I weed them out of the flower borders and into the soup! Tasty, nutritious and slimming. Yes, chickweed has been said to aid you weight-loss diet! One of our favourites is nettle soup, a Limousin speciality.

© 2010 Les Trois Chenes

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10 comments

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 4 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Thanks so much, precy anza, for these few kind words. 'Wish you were here too!'


precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego

Love all those photos! I wish to be in there, so peaceful. ^-^' I always wanted a cherry tree and seeing that magnolia.... what a beautiful place! :) Voted up!


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Sally's Trove, boxxies, Lady_E Thank you for your comments. Looking forward to the spring again this year. We would like to get going with the vegetable garden this year.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Beautiful Hub - It's amazing how the Hens clean up the land too. You guys are so in tune with nature.

Merci.


boxxies profile image

boxxies 6 years ago

Beautiful spring blossoms from France.

Thanks for sharing them.

Marie


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

What a gorgeous bit of paradise you have. Thanks so much for answering that question about honey...it's how I found you. Now, off to the autumn garden!


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

elayne001, Ultimate Hubber, martycraigs: Many thanks for your kind comments. Life really is lovely here at this time of the year. Only slight prob is keeping up with the growing grass and weeds. Some new goslings have just been hatched out by their mums here. I am looking forward to seeing them out and eating all that grass! (This is the first time we have had naturally reared goslings, I usually use a incubator, but the geese have been great mothers so far - despite what the books say!)


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

We were in France last summer. It is so beautiful there. Thanks for sharing your garden with us. Great hub. Aloha!


Ultimate Hubber profile image

Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

Flower pictures were great! Thanks for the well written helpful hub!!!


martycraigs profile image

martycraigs 6 years ago

Those are some great photos you have there. I love spring specifically for all the plants and gardens in full bloom. Cheers!

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