mardi 25 mai 2010

Champs Elysees Goes Green

20 years after the Grande Moisson in 1990, the Champs Elysees has once again been transformed by nature. Trees, flowers, vines, fruit, vegetables....even a few farm animals staged a take over in this most famous avenue during the weekend. An enormous garden was created on the avenue « The thinking behind the event was to discover the diversity of our country and the land and to meet the men and women who are behind the farming, forestry, gardening and agriculture industries" said William Villeneuve the President of 'Jeunes Agroculteurs'.

mardi 18 mai 2010

Morning delight

I had such satisfaction working in the garden this weekend that I vowed to take a little time every day to just enjoy it and do a little job each day, so nothing becomes too overwhelming. So, after I've done the school run (well, walk) I went directly (do not pass go!) to the garden and this morning I trimmed back the lilac taking off the dying flowers.

It's a weird year with the late cold weather as I'm still waiting for the daffodil, crocus and tulip leaves to turn brown before I remove them - they should be left to go brown because whilst they are still green, the goodness can still go back into the bulb to make it stronger for next year. It looks unsightly to see all those browing leaves so I'm always anxious to get this stage over with. This last few weeks the choiysa have been providing a nice view and scent with their big bushes of white flowers and the little alpine plant has white flowers plus I have 4 very old white iris coming into bloom. I'm always surprised when they appear because I didn't plant them, someone else way before me did and it's nice that they always come back. So the garden is pretty white at the moment, apart from the blazing red of the new leaves on the potted acer (see picture).

I love my garden in the morning, with the dew on the grass, that slight damp feeling before the sun hits it and the peace and quiet before my daily tasks begin. I stopped and listened to the birds, enjoyed looking at the fruits of my hard work this weekend, willed the tomatoes to grow (we are having a race, each member of the family planted one plant each and we'll see how many tomatoes we are lucky enough to gather). I picked a bunch of delicately scented lily of the valley (they are in flower about 2 weeks late this year) so I have a little piece of the garden inside and as the boathouse clock strikes 9h, then it's time for me to go inside, leave my green space behind and get on with the day.

vendredi 7 mai 2010

Foire de Paris

Yesterday I spent a long day trucking round the Foire de Paris so I could bring you all the latest in the garden world. I had such fun meeting the people who run their business and talking to them about their products. Here's what I found interesting:-

Two innovative products for watering the garden: A simple probe with a very simple regulator that uses old plastic bottles and can water plants for up to 3 months - ingenous! There was also a system similar to the self watering systems but hooked up to a very large bottle.

I often use upturned plastic bottles full of water in the soil to give the plants water when we're away but I always feel that the water escapes far too quickly. This probe solves the problem very nicely. I purchased 4 and will report back on their effectiveness. A really really great solution to window box watering that is ecologic because it only releases water gradually and reuses those plastic bottles.

The second product that caught my eye was a hose storage system that is stored in the ground (no more unsightly hose wheels) and rises up from the ground through pressure once the water is turned on rather than using electricity. Same for winding back the hose. Great for larger gardens. Jetzer at

If you have a terrace and you long for grass or a nicer outlook from your terrace than your neigbour's kitchen or a brick wall, then this company might have just the thing. They sell synthetic grass which looks pretty natural and they make printed banners with natural images on them to disguise an ugly view or balcony rails or just to offer some privacy.

There was a LOT of garden furniture. If you're thinking of buying some, get yourself down to the Foire as you can get some great deals, especially on the exhibition models. A few pieces (amongst fields of teak tables) stood out:

These are cute resin chairs. The adult versions light up and the sunlounger has a very sculptural form.

This Belgium firm makes garden furniture in limited editions only and sells directly from the factory. I loved the granite topped table, the classy wood and white table/chair set and the cute tulip lights amongst many of their unusual designs.

The double sun lounger made me long for a huge garden and a swimming pool. No more craning your neck to chat to your sunbathing companion when you are facing each other like this. Really lovely and made of beautiful materials. Stylish. Luxe!

If you'd like a water feature in your garden or on the terrace but don't want a pond or twinkly fountain, here's an alternative. Lots of different designs including one that lights up in different colours. I preferred this simple one which I could imagine tucked away in a secluded corner. Apparently the Managing Director designs all the fountains herself. This firm also sold a really unusual 'living wall' with a fountain.

And lastly, I thought this low table made of concrete and steel with a niche for grass or flowers was an excellent modern mixture of hard, soft, industrial and nature. The creators of this furniture are young and friendly and I hope they have lots more ideas on this theme. Ones to watch! PARISPARIS

The Foire really had a carnival atmosphere, loads to see, and even though I didn't visit all the Halls, my feet were sore at the end of the day. I even had time to digress into the winetasting and food halls (a girl's gotta eat) and my highlights there were some expensive Cour St Emillion wine and Grand Marnier crepes.

mercredi 5 mai 2010

Planting Pairs

Remaining on the subject of 'grow your own', here are some additional matches made in heaven:-

Carrots and spring onions in alternate rows - the smell of onions deters carrot root fly
Sweetcorn and French beans - the roots of the beans release nitrogen which is beneficial for the sweetcorn
Basil and tomatoes - the gorgeous basil scent wards off whitefly - good on the plate, great in the garden!