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Plants that like the hot summers and cold winters?


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We are in the process of buying a house in 24. At the moment the garden

is predominantly lawn with a few trees / shrubs and some herbaceous

plants (I noticed lavender, honeysuckle..) - fairly functional.  I

enjoy gardening in the UK but have no idea of what plants would thrive

in the Dordogne area - as although summers can be hot, winters are

pretty cold. 

Can anyone suggest plants that have thrived in similar conditions - and

equally ones to avoid.  Also are the pests similar to those in the

UK - or is there a new breed of beasties I need to become familiar



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Hi Hastobe.

I have tried to answer this question in my mind, and I keep coming back to to 2 questions.

What sort of soil have you got?

What sort of garden do you want?

I'll have a bash if you get back with the answers

I ignore all the beasties.



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I know its a fairly fundamental question - but I have absolutely no

idea of the soil type!  We are still in the process of buying and

we haven't had enough time at the house to test for soil acidity etc.

With regard to the garden, initially it will have to be fairly low

maintenace as we are not going to be able to be there long-term for

another five years (sadly).  But we thought we could use membrane

etc to reduce weeding. At home (in the UK) we have herbaceous plants,

lawns, gravelled areas etc.  I love 'natural' gardens and scented

plants - hardy geraniums, roses, lavender, herbs - also poppies. 

I like hellebores and many of the scented winter flowering

shrubs.  Structure is also important - I would like the garden to

look good in winter too.  Not sure if this helps. 


(PS - I am not into formal bedding - or 'garish' bedding plants  - prefer softer colours and planting..)

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Okay, got all that. It helps a lot.

Did you walk around in the wet? Did the soil stick to your shoes? It was that kind of level of info I meant. I can't be arsed with things that need me to understand PH, not if it's going to be in the ground anyway.

I like the sound of garden you describe.

I only asked about soil because ours is clay - something I had no experience of -  which is good for some plants and DEATH to others, no matter what you do to help.

I'll get thinking and try and come back tomorrow with some ideas. And so will all the other gardeners who spot this thread....

One thing I would say is this. There is no point poring over UK Gardening books, and thinking 'I love that, I want that', unless you are going to order from specialist nurseries. When you get here you'll find all different varieties on sale.

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Take a peek over the fences and see what, if anything, is still alive in yr neighbours gardens. I appreciate that they may not have exactly the same soil types but the weather should be reasonably close.

2 years ago we bought little lavender plants from outside at Jardi Leclerc (never buy anything from INSIDE the shop) at around €1.60 each compared to €4 on the market. They start flowering when it gets warm and continue through to first frost. Otherwise we tend to buy from the cheap section at garden centres or their special offer weekend sales.

Most of the stuff we brought over from Essex has not made it, too hot in summer, too cold in winter or both excluding osteospurnum (sp?), allegedly not hardy now living in Ikea aluminium dustbin in full sun, only watered when looking desperate, every cutting given away dies but here it is a joy to behold.



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I expect a lot of people have been exploring this suibject one way or another and will have some very helpful suggestions. I'm not very far advanced on this but I am happy to share my meagre discoveries so far.

I have been recommended a couple of books that seem relevant.
One is Betth Chattos book about the Dry Garden, which gives some very detailed information about how to establish plants so that they become drought hardy. BC also says that her garden suffers extremes of heat and cold so some of the plants she uses may work fotr you too. The other was an Australian gardening book I got from Amazon (? Drought Gardening?) which includes guidance about plants for the type of climate you describe. I'm afraid I don't expect to see my copy of that until May so can't give you the title, but a search on Amazon may help you find it.

Our garden in France sounds a bit like yours and we too are only there part time. Successes so far have included box, lavender, rosemary, honeysuckle, wisteria, irises, acanthus, achillea (Sp? it's wild form is called yarrow) perovskia, tete a tete daffs, cosmos, pot marigolds, nasturtiums and toadflax. I plant seeds of cosmos, nasturtium and marigolds in late spring in shelterd spots and they do faily okay, although a good dousing in "grey"/recycled water is needed to revive them in the summer..Sumac trees and hollyhocks seem to grow well in the area too but the hollyhocks I planted were all destroyed by slugs or snails. 

I have noticed that different parts of the garden support different plants. In an enclosed potager we have been able to harvest asparagus, cherry tomatoes, chillies, beans and some potatoes.. But of course we planted most of those out in April or May to harvest in the summer. The potager also contains established roses and daylillies - but I don't rate their chances anywhere else in the garden. The soil is much richer where they are and the hedges and walls seem to give valuable protection.

Bonne corage! I am sure you will enjoy the project.


PS a climber whose name escapes me has also done well, I think its a chilean plant in the potatoe family, and is much prettier than that description sounds! Perhaps someone else can supply the name!

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PS a climber whose name escapes me has also done well, I think its a chilean plant in the potatoe family, and is much prettier than that description sounds! Perhaps someone else can supply the name!

Lucie, could it be a Solanum, perhaps S. glasnevin?

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I have seen Box suffer horribly from dryness so I would use that in the most moist part of the garden.

Buddleia, sedums, smaller leaved hebes, cistus, helianthum (rock roses) halimocistus (SP?), I have some campula that do well in a hot sunny place, but they do have clay soil.

Eucalyptus should do well and there are lots of varieties, but keep them well away from the house. How about Bamboo?

I have had a rheingold(connifer) do well in a hot dry spot, and you could try looking at that those tall Italien cupressus too (but start saving  !)

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I see others have done the hard work.

Laurel grows like crazy here, and seems to be very drought resistant. Lot's of French people have it as a fiercly pruned hedge, but I've seen seen enormous ones that have ben left to grow and they look great. Very  'jungly', great for shade for one or two people, with a scented rose climbing up and through it.

You could also get an italienate look after a few years by pruning into 'bobbles' at the top - sorry my language is failing me.

I understand what you mean about the 'muted' colours, but honestly, the amazing sunshine does help do away with that 'municipal planting' look. 'Bright' 'garish' things  look fantastic in the sun here, so don't completely discount them.  The amazing sunshine can leave your 'muted' colours looking washed out and dull.

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Yes we have the ubiquitous laurel hedge (clipped to within an inch of

its life) around the front garden.  But having said that it does

look good so I have no plans to take it out. 

Interesting point about colours - I hadn't thought about how

differently strong colours would look in bright sunshine, I guess I'm

accustomed to thinking in terms of English weather, colours, planting

etc etc.

Thanks for all the suggestions - its really appreciated. 


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I don't think anyone has mentioned roses - these do very well and there

are lots of varieties. Another point is growing in containers - then

move them into the shade when it's too hot, indoors in the winter, and

if your soil is rubbish you use compost. We are south of you in the

Gers and have clay soil. Tesco- I agree with you that bright colours

look better than muted - I love the huge range of geraniums. Pat.

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We just chuck various kinds of nasturtium seeds all over the place in spring and have a brilliant collection of flowers until the late autumn.  We have some more established plants too, but the nasturtiums look wonderful and are maintenance free, apart from the odd spray against caterpillars.

Perennial geraniums (pelargonium) are pretty tough too and will grow almost anywhere. 

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Camelias seem pretty hardy and seem to hold onto their blooms even in the winter although some of the flowers go a bit brown round the edges, but the leaves stay a lovely dark green.

Also our Hydrangeas are pretty low maintenance .

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If you have room in the car suggest you bring some plants with you as range in france not yet as great as u.k.and can sometimes be more expensive here.However if you are buying more expensive plants/shrubs/trees then probably best bought locally as many are guaranteed.

we have been in south limousin area adjoining dordogne for 5 years and started with only the exiting ,chestnut.oak and beech trees ,but the other half is the expert -like most women gardeners and i am the shifter.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

when a plant does not like an area or needs more or less shade then thats when i shift it.!!!!!!!!!!

not to be left on my own as i pulled up a large weed which apparently was a honeysuckle--

well how are we men supposed to know.

we nowhave many different types but as others have pointed out you need to check the soil ph.which is very simple.if your french is not too good bring a ph test kit from u.k. as instructions easier to follow.

yours ,

lady chatterley's gardener/labourer.

p.s. just moved 6 shrubs.




buying a bag of cement tomorrow that will stop her moving them.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i have just been told a garden is never finished and all things will be moved more than once and if i complain again i will have to learn to cook my own dinner.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



better go and put the early potatoes in.[ip][W][:)][W]


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Have a look at the local garden centres. We too found that a lot of the plants we brought from the UK didn't do well but the locally bought ones do better. Watch out for plants that are sold here but still do not tolerate v. cold winters and need to be wrapped up or brought under cover. If buying specials from the supermarkets try to get there on the first day of offers as they are often no good at looking after them and anyway the best stuff gets snapped up. I agree with the post about roses too - they love it in my garden I'm pleased to say!



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[quote user="Ab"]

but the other half is the expert -like most women gardeners and i am the shifter.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

when a plant does not like an area or needs more or less shade then thats when i shift it.!!!!!!!!!!

not to be left on my own as i pulled up a large weed which apparently was a honeysuckle--

well how are we men supposed to know.


I laughed so much at that - I think we have exactly the same

arrangement!! I have also lost innumerable plants as a result of

hubbies enthusiastic weeding.  I remember gradually building up a

collection of nasturtium seeds by collecting and drying the seeds each

year.  I planted the seeds out and they were sprouting

beautifully.  Leaving hubby to his own devices in the garden I

disappeared off to the supermarket.  When I arrived home I found


smiling proudly at the pile of shrivelled looking green things on the

path - all my beautiful nasturtium seedlings carefully weeded

out!  I keep telling him that he just needs more practice

[;)]  My DH ranks only marginally below slugs in the 'danger to

plants' category - but he is darn good with a shovel and wheelbarrow!

Thanks for both of the suggestions - I wonder if the locally bought

plants do better because they have been grown locally (and are

therefore more acclimatised to the local conditions)?


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