dimanche 4 décembre 2011

Green Fingers are Good for your Health

As reported in 'Hello' magazine, Mind (a leading UK mental health charity) is calling for people to get outside to guard against the winter doldrums. Gardening expert, Rachel de Thame is quoted as saying 'At this time of the year it is vital that we all take advantage of the theraputic  effects of the great outdoors and look after our own mental wellbeing'. 

Mind has developed ideas as to how we can all get off our butts and build some 'eco-therapy' into our lives.


Their website reports 'Research shows that those who are more active have a greater sense of wellbeing and have lower rates of depression and anxiety. Even simple activities like taking a stroll in the park, or doing some gentle outdoor exercise can have big benefits for our mental wellbeing.  Improve your mental health by getting outside into nature.'

To further motivate you, they have an outdoor activity picker.


So, get out there into the garden or local park or square, feel the sun on your face, maybe the rain on your head and the wind in your hair.  Enjoy!

vendredi 2 décembre 2011

Une tour Eiffel végétale? Or not?

According to the free metro paper, 20 minutes, the engineering group, Ginger announced this week their project to cover the whole of the Eiffel Tower in plants.  Apparently from June 2012, 600 000 plants will cover the famous landmark and this 'installation' will last 4 years.

The plants will be suspended in pockets suspended from the metal structure.  A tubular watering system will ensure that the plants get enough moisture.  According to an ecological report, if this happens, the Tower's carbon emissions will be at zero because the Tower will absorb more CO2 than it produces.  The provisional budget for this project is projected at 72 millions of Euros.

The group who run the Eiffel Tower denied knowledge of the project.

According to Ginger's website, however, they are working on a plan to refurbish the first floor of the Eiffel Tower with, amongst other things, a glass floor replacing part of the famous structure designed by Gustave Eiffel.


I felt slightly sad that the living wall structure wasn't going ahead, after all if they can cover the structure in lights, why not plants?  à suivre.....

mercredi 30 novembre 2011

Sia Christmas displays

Inspiration!  Instead of those kitsch Christmas decorations dotted around the house, why not choose a lovely vase (there are some cute mirrored ones here) and put a bright red bunch of tulips or berried twigs in them for a lovely Christmas table display?  Cheery yet elegant and somehow 'christmassey'!

vendredi 25 novembre 2011

Winter pot

Here's a pot that I did today as part of a garden overhaul for a client in 19th arr in Paris.  My client is going to decorate her entrance hall, with a glass door, in a tasteful gold and purple William Morris type print wallpaper.  The doors are also a dull shade of plum.

I saw these purple pots in Truffaut and thought they were just the job to place matching ones either side of the door, welcoming you home in an entrance which does not get direct sunlight.  Add a skimmia rubella, an ivy for trailing and two tiny mid purple violas, I think this makes a really pretty display for winter.  I liked the slight clash of the red simmia and the pot. and it looked great in situ.  Luckily the client thought so too! 

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.

Albert Camus

dimanche 20 novembre 2011

BIG living wall (mur vegetal)

Lots of you seem to be interested in living walls.  They are all the rage and add a really unusual aspect to your living space - either inside or out.  Here is the mother of all living walls, photos taken in the summer:-

The Museum was built on a curved site where there was an old disused conference centre.  The Musuem opened on 23rd June 2006 and its creation was supported enthusiastically by President Jacques Chirac. The Museum (known as MQB) houses indigenous art from cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Vegetation completely covers the exterior, creeping round the windows.  And once you enter behind the enormous glass screen, you find a marvellous garden full of expansive paths, snaking round corners.  Very very exotic, completely in tune with the contents of this Museum.

The building was designed by Jean Nouvel and the 'green wall' is 200 metres long and 12 metres high.  It was designed and planted by Gilles Clément and Patrick Blanc.

The north winds and open expanse of the Seine, running alongside the Museum, has caused regular frost damage to the wall despite the same support system for roots and irrigation and drainage systems being perfectly adequate for another living wall project on the side of the department store BHV (previously featured in this blog).

The building is around 100 metres walk from the Eiffel Tower.

Pretty seating area for picnics or resting your feet

Great view onto the Museum cafe/restaurant

I am so impressed and it's projects like this that make me feel so small for all my tiny efforts to make a difference to the environment through planting.  Imagine all the inspired thought and sheer hard work in bringing these plants, making these paths and all the upkeep.  It is great to see a  pretty new public project paying such meticulous and thoughtul attention to the public spaces outside.  When I worked for an architect, they were obliged by law to add a 'green' element to each boring office block.  This was often achieved with little thought or care and by just 'filling in the formula' by plopping a few sad trees around.  Not for all the projects - they were not all office blocks thank goodness, but there was such a casual attitude 'oh yeah, I forgot the trees'.  Plop plop  plop, now we'll pass this building by the planning committee.

In this MQB project, the grounds and the building were so obviously conceived together and meant to be complementary.  It certainly offers the casual visitor,  the person just passing by taking a detour from the street, a very pleasant calm walk through the towering grasses.  The palette is very simple - green and white (see the clumps of anenomes in the areas with less light) and a lot of the foilage is evergreen.  The high glass wall fronting the space ensures the peace and quiet throughout the garden making it a real haven from the busy riverside.

vendredi 18 novembre 2011

Plant Sacks at Monoprix

I know, here I go with my favourite shop again!  Couldn't let the day go by without mentioning my find of plant sacks when I visited Monoprix today.  Nice plum colour, more for indoor plants and as it says on the packet 'New Trend'!

Large about 20 Euros, small around 15 Euros.

mercredi 16 novembre 2011

Parc Floral Autumn glory

Clumps of crysanthemums, blazing grasses and a path that you can't walk on composed of millions of pansies leading round the corner to?  Who knows?  (Mystery is always good in a garden) caught my eye in the Parc Floral in Vincennes on a sunny November day.

mercredi 9 novembre 2011

Pretty tree!

Can't go wrong with your Autumn pics.  Simple tree in my little town, really pretty.  So many of them around.  Take the time to appreciate them before we descend into winter and the bare branches.  I can't help stopping to look.  On Saturday, in the twilight the leaves hummed with colour, it towered quietly over the green space and I felt the true majestic quality of this tree.

I'm pretty sure the Druids thought that trees were sacred.  In that moment, I felt it too.


Here's two flower beds that I often walk past in the Jardin du Luxembourg.  They were planted with geraniums all summer and now they have these enormous clumps of crysanthemums.  Not sure how long these will last, but I imagine they'll probably change them before winter.  I'm betting it's going to be pansies!

jeudi 27 octobre 2011

Autum is a very easy time of year to take a beautiful landscape photos - it's almost cheating because it's so easy.

Anyway, here's some pretty lovely images taken today.  I thought the grasses in particular were absolutely humming with colour and vibrancy.  Gorgeous!

Seen in Paris

Walking past an open gate in Boulogne I spotted this unusual display outside a lawyer's office (not usually known for their sense of humour or artistic tastes) You could definitely try this at home.  Not sure how to get hold or the oversize apple cores but certainly suspending pebbles on wire supports is do-able and a very cute way of displaying seaside finds.

mercredi 26 octobre 2011

Smart winter displays in this beautifully kept shopping village.  Simple but smart and will last throughout the winter.  Note the pots are always in groups of three.  Copy these displays for winter!

A little Tidy Up in Montrouge

A little tidy up in a cute garden space in Montrouge, Paris which made quite a dramatic difference.  I took up all the wooden tiles and put plastic underneath them so that the owner no longer needed to come back from her travels to find her space overgrown with weeds pushing their way through.  I suggested she put small evergreen bushes (Choiysa for example) in the border, with some bulbs to cheer up the winter gloom.  In this way, the weeds won't be appearing so much too.

mardi 13 septembre 2011

Table decoration

I spotted these charming table decorations in a cafe in Munich - tiny rosemary bushes in sweet cache pots.  Thought they were just cute.  You could use them at home, cheaper than cut flowers, smell good and fends off mosquitos - yay!

lundi 12 septembre 2011

" Designing a garden is a bit like having an affair with another man's wife: you have an intense relationship, knowing that at some point you will have to leave" 

"Gardening should make you happy"

James Alexander-Sinclair

Just read an interesting interview with this outspoken garden designer in the magazine 'Gardens Illustrated'.   Lovely magazine for dreaming.  Great photos.

vendredi 9 septembre 2011

Jardin Christian Dior, Granville, Normandy

Another holiday treat was a visit to the Christian Dior Garden in Granville, Normandy.  That is, the Christian Dior, the fashion designer (b 1905 d 1957).

His childhood home, 'les Rhumbs', acquired in 1905 by his parents has a gorgeous garden 'à l'anglaise'.  The house and garden, following their purchase by the town of Granville were opened to the public in 1938.

There is a good website with an English version which tells the history of the house (now a museum for Dior's creations, sketches, art collection and changing temporary exhibitions plus a discreet shop with a very beautiful salesperson).


I was particularly bowled over by the rose garden which was created by Dior's mother, Madeleine Dior along a sheltered path and restored again in 2002.  The roses are the old fashioned ones that smell divine.  I couldn't stop sniffing all over the place, which is fitting for the garden of a fashion designer who is equally well known for his perfumes.

In 1925 the young Christian Dior replaced the small green house by a pergola around a small pond and seating area.  This 'outdoor salon' is very much inspired by the Art Deco period.

There are simple and elegant dove grey (Dior colour adopted for his well known 'Dior' logo), benches offering comfort for those who wish to sit and drink in the atmosphere, a beautiful mosaic in blues and golds inspired by the name of the main house 'les Rhumbs' and a bust of the designer.  Camelias, hydrangeas and palms are planted and climbing roses, jasmine and clematis decorate the pergola structure.  A very restful area.

The garden is large with lawns, pretty planted areas, a bamboo arch and plenty of wonderful sea views.  If I had a criticism it would be that the flowerbeds of closely planted annuals seemed a bit 'municipal' and not particularly apt for a private home although there were some well maintained wilder and looser looking borders too.  The house, perched on the edge of the cliff, is simple inside with white walls and wooden varnished floors and it is fascinating to see Dior's wonderful, intricate creations close up.  Dresses every girl dreams of wearing!  I particularly liked his simple black and white illustrations where, with just a few strokes of the pencil, he describes perfectly and elegantly his next creation.

The garden is open to the public free of charge all the year round.  There is a charge to visit the house.