The yellow flowers you will see popping up in dry sunny spots across France are not crocuses but are members of the daffodil family. They are called stenbergias, or, to be exact Stenbergia lutea – or the winter daffodil. Really easy to propagate by dividing clumps of bulbs when they get a bit crowded they are a cheerful addition to your French garden and add a bit of extra zing to the autumn colour scheme.
Sedum loves a dry, gravelly situation and you can propagate it easily
Other things which look great at the moment are Hylotelephium spectabile (most of us know them as Sedums; they were re-named botanically a few years ago). Like stenbergia, if you can find a spot they love (usually dry and sunny) they thrive and can easily be propagated by dividing the plants in the spring or even simply by poking a stem into the ground and making sure it gets a bit of water while it is establishing.
Gaura - next to the David Austin rose "Strawberry Hill" - which does well in SW France
Then you have beautiful white Gaura lindheimerai – the flowers floating like butterflies above stems which are rapidly turning autumnal red, and gorgeous grasses – such as Stipa gigantea or Miscanthus malepartus. Add the fabulous flask shaped rose hips of Rosa moysii (the one in the photograph is Highdownensis, but my favourite is Geranium) and the stark exploding firework heads of dried Allium schubertii and that is a fabulous collection for the dry autumn garden.
Stipa gigantea - the seedheads will remain intact all winter
Finally – in a shady corner under some trees, plant corms of Cyclamen hederifolium. The little flowers appear from August through the autumn followed by marbled green and white leaves in the winter.