We don't have an exceptionally flowery yard. We focus most of our energy on growing vegetables, and enjoy both the flowers and the harvest we get from the vegetable garden.
The best flowers for my style of gardening are perennials, including bulbs and flowering trees. In the way of bulbs, we have not only irises, but jonquils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, tulips of various colors, and crocuses. Most of these were already here when we bought the house seven years ago, along with a lot of wild cyclamens and primroses that come up in early spring.
We also have a lot of flowering trees, as I've mentioned. All these were here when we arrived too. There's an ornamental cherry as well as a fruit-bearing cherry tree; five apple trees; and an ornamental plum tree. The two fruit-bearing plum trees that we had blew over in a storm a couple of months ago, and they'll soon be firewood. Meanwhile they had a lot of blossoms on them last week. And I have two other little plum trees to plant in their place. We also have a pear tree and a lilac tree. The latter flowers every other year, it turns out.
We have peonies, columbine, saxifrage, roses, various violets, and blue bellflowers that appear every spring. Not to mention a couple of wild purple orchids, some cowslips, and a lot of dandelions. And we have a good collection of dahlias donated by a friend on the other side of the village. Not to mention the rosemary and thyme plants we've put in and that are in flower right now.
Oh, and don't forget the sage, which has beautiful purple flowers in May and June, and the big stand of St-John's wort, which will flower in yellow over the course of the summer. And the wild chicory (cornflowers), plus a stand of of yellow-flowering sedum that I brought back from my mother's house in North Carolina five years ago. It complements the pink-flowering sedum we found here when we moved in.
Since we've been here, we've planted lily-of-the-valley that was given to me by a friend in Normandy (I dug the plants up in her garden and brought them home), a fig tree that we bought, two plum trees that I grew from pits I got from the neighbors' tree, and a red-flowering sage plant that we took as cuttings from plants on the Ile d'Oléron when we went there on vacation a couple of years ago.
Wow. I had never done an inventory before. We do have a lot of flowering plants, and a lot of flowers in different spots in the yard at different times. Right now the irises and peonies are putting on a show. The ornamental plum has nearly finished, and we didn't get too many apple blossoms this year — maybe that means we won't be buried in apples in 2010.
The roses will start soon. One rosemary bush is absolutely loaded down with blue flowers these days. I guess I have to take back what I said at the beginning of this. It turns out we have a very flowery yard — though not exceptionally so by Touraine standards. It's just that our flowers are spread over a big yard, not concentrated in what the French call massifs.
Oh, I forgot to mention the two kinds of lavendar... and the mint. And probably others.
P.S. Staring out the window just now, I realize I left off: forsythia, tamarisk, linden (tilleul), prickly-pear cactus, and calla lilies. Plus a couple of flowering shrubs that I have never identified.