Le Vent qui Rend Fou.

In the south of France, the mistral, a wind which comes down the Rhone and blows for weeks is supposed to make men and horses go mad.  Here March is traditionally windy but this week the wind is relentless; I don’t know about the horses, but it is driving me quite mad. Spring is happening;  the willows have a green haze, the blackthorn blossom is frothing up all over the hedges, the hawthorn is coming into leaf and the ditches are full of primroses, but how can you enjoy them when you need all your strength to keep upright and walking under trees feels like Russian roulette?

So I have been lurking in my potting shed, sowing seeds and waiting.


But today I ventured out to find that my plants are braver than I am and have been racing to unfold whilst I have been cowering in the shed. The Weeping Willow has a haze of green.

Buds are plumping up everywhere, I love the red leaves and buds of Paeonia mascula ssp. mascula even if it does have a cumbersome, tautology of a name. It has gorgeous single flowers, but I love it from the time its plump noses first appear in winter.

Paeonia mascula ssp. mascula

Last week I showed you Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ which was rashly running into bloom. Now it looks like this and I tremble for it because frost is forecast for next week.

Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’

And now Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ is hastening to join the party.

Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’

The gorgeous flowers of this camellia are probably going to get zapped by the frost too. I arrived here with several camellias in pots and tried planting this one out even though I don’t have the acid soil which is supposed to be essential for its well being. To my amazement it is flourishing and has doubled in size. The ones in pots are looking a bit yellow and unhappy so I shall tip all of them out  now. The books don’t always get it right, sometimes it is fun to push the boundaries and see what you can get away with.

In a recent post I showed you all the primroses in my greenhouse and wrote that I am a bit snooty about these over -hybridised primroses and only have simple wild ones in my garden.

But then looking round I find all these fancy ones. And I must have planted them because I’m pretty sure that nobody crept into the garden in the night and put them there. But in my defense some of them are very old varieties. Anyway, they certainly shout out spring.

And whilst my back was turned the first of the cheery species tulips came into flower. I never planted these but they come back and increase each year. The extra bonus is that the squirrels seem uninterested in them unlike the delicious, expensive ones I plant in pots.


And next week it will officially be spring and just maybe the wind will stop blowing and we will be able to linger and enjoy every new shoot and bud. I have some more treasures I’d like to share with you and I shall be posting my Top Ten March blooms on the 23rd of the month and thereafter I shall try to always make it the 23rd. I hope some of you will join me and show us your spring favourites.

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37 Responses to Le Vent qui Rend Fou.

  1. Despite the wind, your garden looks great. I had to chuckle when I clicked on your post, as I just put up a quick “feels like Spring” post. We had a freeze when my magnolias and camellias were blooming and they did OK, while other plants did not. I hope yours will make it.

  2. I do hope frost doesn’t get your magnolias – they look so beautiful! Your species tulips are very early – I think mine have another week to go. Everything is early this year, isn’t it? I am not complaining at all. A drop in the wind would be nice though!

    • Chloris says:

      The magnolias are unscathed and are opening up more each day. Yes, everything is early after the very warm February, what a joy it is to rediscover more spring beauties each day.

  3. Kris P says:

    Wind or not, your garden is looking splendid. The tulip photos are reinforcing my intention to try the some of the species varieties in my own garden. The wind is blowing here too – we call ours Santa Anas, aka devil winds, which legend, according to Wikipedia, say is “responsible for a tense, uneasy, wrathful mood among Angelenos.” I’ve got some chores to tackle in the garden but I’m not fond of working in the wind either so I’m dragging my heels. However, as the wind is drying, we haven’t had rain in over a week now, and my irrigation system has been off for over 2 months, I need to get out and water, like it or not.

    I hope you avoid the forecasted frost.

    • Chloris says:

      I hope your Sant Anas have stopped blowing, we can’t have you in a ‘restless wrathful mood’. Here it is peaceful at last after winds that blew for 10 days and it is wonderful to linger in the garden watching all the spring blooms emerge.

  4. That is an incredibly beautiful Camilla, do you have the cultivar ? the colour grading is quite perfect.

  5. bcparkison says:

    Frost did a number here as well and Spring is having a hard time coming and going off again.
    Your primrose are just delightful and that red lily is beautiful.
    I guess all is well that ends well. At least I don’t have the flooding that so many do.

  6. Oh the wind seems relentless at the moment Chloris but it looks as if it should ease off next week which is good news. We don’t want frost though so fingers crossed. We went on a cruise along the Rhone a few years ago and apparently the mistral had been blowing the week before. We were most relieved! You’ve got the right idea retreating to the potting shed where you can keep snug but still get on with jobs. Loving your glorious array of primroses and that illustration.

    • Chloris says:

      The forecast was right, at last we have windless mild weather and what bliss it is. A bit of sun would be nice too but you can’t have everything. Gosh, I wouldn’t fancy cruising down the Rhone in a mistral. The ilustration is one of my DiL’s, she has promised me a plan of the garden which I am eagerly awaiting.

  7. Tina says:

    The wind might make horses and men mad, but it’s waiting for spring that does it for gardeners. Your spring seems well on its way.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, we are all champing at the bit for weeks. We are lucky here that there are very few days that we can’t get outside and I do all my tidying in winter.

  8. Heyjude says:

    Your camellia is very pretty, I fear that the wind and rain will have spoiled those in the Cornish gardens. Same with magnolias. I planted species tulips back in 2016, but after flowering the following spring I have not seen any of them. Maybe I didn’t plant them deep enough.

    • Chloris says:

      I love your Cornish spring and garden visiting in Cornwall is wonderful at this time of the year. My favourite for magnolias is Caerhays. My magnolias seem to have come through unscathed and in a week or two should be looking great.

  9. fredgardener says:

    Beautiful spring pictures, Chloris ! The magnolia and camellia are my favorites.
    And the description of the Mistral is quite good. You don’t need to go to the south of France these days to be “drunk” because of the wind … luckily it stops tomorrow!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Fred. My magnolias will be looking their best in early April, it is always an exciting time. The wind has stopped here at last, I hope you have lovely spring weather now to enjoy your garden.

  10. Cathy says:

    I sometimes think we must have our own microclimare here as we always seem to miss the worst of the weather and this time is no exception, although the working greenhouse did rattle rather alarmingly when I was in it one day this week! Hope you don’t get any frost – i was wondering whether to unplug the greenhouse heaters but will perhaps leave them a little longer. Isn’t it lovely to see these first tulips? Love that dark magnolia – and what a pretty camellia that is. Thanks for sharing your nearly-spring treasures with us – so generous

    • Chloris says:

      My back garden is usually sheltered as we are surrounded by trees but this time there was no escape. I am leaving my greenhouse heater for a bit longer although I think I will undress my tree ferns. It is mild at last and heaven to be outside. We are just off for a long cycle ride to enjoy all the primroses in the lanes round here.

      • Cathy says:

        I too will leave the heaters in situ for a little longer just in case but I am not expecting them to come on much, if at all. I am certainly itching to remove the bubble wrap on the working greenhouse but think I will invest in some shade netting this year – have you used it before? Hope you enjoyed your bike ride and the primroses

  11. bittster says:

    You always find so many goodies to show, I’m glad you braved the storm.
    I’m just going to put it out there that my garden is very open and undefended, and it would be no problem at all for someone to sneak in at night (or for that matter any time of day), and trash-up my garden with over hybridized primula. Cowichans and doubles would be particularly offensive just in case suggestions are needed.
    I love the peony foliage. I opened the wallet for a few seedlings last spring, and I’m thrilled to see they’ve made it through to year two. I hope they look half as nice some day.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, and for any secret primrose planter, some laced ones would be ok, silver or gold, I don’t mind. I just found two seedlings round that peony, great excitement!

  12. Christina says:

    My garden is in a very windy site, I hate the wind and try not to go out in it if I can help it. It is fascinating that species tulips don’t do well for me at all; the ones I planted have all but disappeared but the hybrids return regularly. I have some flowering in the garden already. I don’t mind the bright primroses, after a long winter any bright colour is very welcome.

    • Chloris says:

      I hate the wind too and I can’t bear being out in it. There was one little clump of this tulip when we got here, now it is all round the weeping pear. I wish I knew which one it is. I would get more for other parts of the garden.

  13. Brian Skeys says:

    I do like the species tulips, so dainty. I must try some more this autumn. I wonder, are they less susceptible to tulip fire?

  14. Beth says:

    Chloris, your early spring flowers are amazing! Nothing here has greened up yet, so it’s so lovely to see yours to tide me over until our spring arrives. And that’s really funny about the primroses you forgot about and Never would have planted! 🙂 I’ve had very little luck growing primroses, and would be so happy to have the gaudiest of the lot. Thanks for sharing all your lovelies! Best, -Beth

    • Chloris says:

      Winter seems to go on and on in your part of the world, it’s a good thing you have your lovely sun room. Yes, the primroses light up the garden at this time of the year.

  15. I definitely feel mad after a week of relentless rattling wind. I am hoping that today’s relative calm remains true for the foreseeable future. Paeonia mascula ssp. mascula is a lovely plant. Does it bloom freely? Interesting result with your camellia. It shows it’s worth a try regardless of stated preferences. Good luck with the others.

    • Chloris says:

      Calm again today, thank goodness. Yes the peony blooms freely and this year, I have found two seedings round it. I used to grow it near Molly the Witch and I got seedlings in all shades of yellow and pink.

  16. Love those red species tulips with the yellow centers!

  17. snowbird says:

    What a beautiful Camellia, mine all have windburn, a curse on the winds! I do like all your primroses, especially the little blue ones. Here’s to better weather for us all….that painting has me smiling, what a talented DIL you have.xxx

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