lundi 28 février 2011

Berry nice dining!

Sorry about the title...You would think I spend my days in Monoprix, given my recent posts, but I don't honest.

I was in there today and spotted this very cute table and chairs dining set enhanced with a lovely juicy strawberry design.

The table was just under 50 Euros and the chairs around 36 Euros.  Very cute on a small balcony or in a corner in the garden.  Watch out though if you leave them in the sun, you might burn your bum as the ensemble is made of metal:-)

dimanche 27 février 2011

Sia Artificial Flowers

I am so desparate for spring to arrive that I snapped these cheerful displays in my local branch of Monceau Fleurs.  All fake I'm afraid, but some of them quite pretty I thought and a nice colourful addition to your home.  The vases are pretty and the white display elegant.  Fake orchids in particular can be very convincing and attractive.  The real thing is hard to grow as you need the right conditions, restraint when watering, pruning them in the right way and lots of patience.  My Mum has some quite large orchids (real!) We purchased the bulbs on a visit to the 'Garden Island' of Madeira well over 10 years ago when we had a guided tour of an incredible orchid grower's plants and garden.  Have a look at the fabulous gardens of this special island:- 

I'm ashamed to say my orchids did not thrive, however.

So, here's a couple of jolly pictures to cheer the winter gloom!  Stems seemed to cost around 9 Euros a piece for the smaller ones by the way.

vendredi 25 février 2011

My Challenge for 2011

Watch this space, I am planning a big project for my blog - I'd like to visit ALL the squares in Paris and report back to you on each and every one of them.  Usually when you're looking for squares of Paris you can come across the famous squares and Places, but not tiny neigbourhood squares that are so vital to the community, offering a place to sit in the sun or shade, a place to relax, somewhere to eat your sandwich lunch, walk out with your children, your baby, your sweetheart or your friends.  The place you can pop into and see familiar faces, maybe a few ducks, definitely some soothing greenery and occasionally steal a go on the swings when nobody's looking!  It's those squares I'm interested in, the 'real' Paris, not the well visited tourist route. 

Let's see if I can meet my challenge, at least I hope to bring you some new and unusual places to visit that you might have's hoping!

In the meantime, here's the official Paris website, which is quite good actually.

Watch here for the unofficial version:-)

mercredi 23 février 2011

Square Louvois

A little known square in the 2nd arron., Square Louvois must have the most impressive fountain of all the little squares in Paris.  It is huge!  The square takes its name from the Marquis of Louvois.  The four female figures on the fountain represent the four major rivers of France - the Seine, the Garonne, the Loire and the Saöne and the signs of the Zodiac are featured on the large marble base.  The fountain was designed by Louis Visconti and was sculpted by Jean Louis Klugman.  The fountain features in a modern day episode of 'Gossip Girl' and one of the characters was pushed into it.(Serena played by Blake Lively).  The square was created in 1830 on the site of the Theatre National de la rue de la Loi.

I really love the soft green fence and its Art Nouveau style, arching outwards.  I'll be watching this ugly looking arch hopefully become covered with plants as the spring and summer approach.

The Square is only one of two green spaces in the 2nd arr, the area of Paris with the fewest green spaces.  It is pretty unexpected and the fountain is impressive and draws an intake of breath when one first falls upon it.

ps behind the square is a fantastic selection of Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants and other versions of Far Eastern cuisine, for all budgets.   Well worth visiting this quarter if you like this type of cuisine and worth shopping around for some very reasonable set menus, especially at lunchtime.

mardi 22 février 2011


If you're going to purchase those pretty zinc pots in Monprix with the lacy edges and you'd like to use them as flower pots outside rather than cache pots inside, you'll have to drill a hole in the bottom to save the roots of your plant becoming waterlogged and rotting.  Don't turn the pot upside down and press too hard on the bottom to drill as you'll bend the lacy edges.  Instead, try to turn the pot on its side and drill sideways.  You might need someone to hold the pot still as you might have to press quite hard and the drill bit will suddenly pop through when you've made your hole, so mind your fingers:-)

dimanche 20 février 2011

Zinc pots at Monoprix

You can tell that spring is going to arrive - the winter bargins are replaced by brightly coloured, light clothes in light fabrics that feel much too cold to wear right now! You can also see the new gardening ranges creeping out in cleverly located displays that make us all feel guilty that we haven't been in the garden for ages and make us want to get gardening.

Well, I had a moment like that in Monoprix!  They have the prettiest little zinc two handled troughs and cache pots in plain and green zinc, with a lace cut out border.  Really pretty.

You can see the table of 'green' which is mainly full of fake indoor plants, which are pretty good fakes in fact, and cute candle cactii.

And spring has even got its hands on the cushion range with these two lovely cushions.  I especially liked the thistle pattern which also appears on a cutting board.

It's not expensive in Monoprix and the good stuff goes fast and is limited, so if you fancy a injecting a bit of greenery (fake or real) into your home, it's just the ticket!

lundi 14 février 2011

All boxed up! Easy and effective display

I love box!  I noticed these lovely simple, elegant displays outside a restaurant on the Boulevard des Italiens.  They would look simple and effective on a small balcony or a deck, or for a larger space, repeated to give a minimalist but pretty green display.

Box is a very versatile plant.  It likes dry conditions, so it doesn't fuss too much if you forget to your watering, in fact it doesn't like being waterlogged.  It does well in shade or sun, dry soils, it's evergreen, can stand a frosty winter and a hot summer.  It's flexible in that you can trim it to all sorts of shapes.  The only thing is that it grows ever so slowly so either you need patience or a large budget to buy mature plants (they are really expensive - for example a small ball of 35-40cm might cost around 55 Euros and a larger one of 90 - 100cm is a whopping 400 Euros).  But it's easy to plant and very rewarding.  There are many types of box, each with different sizes of leaves, different shades of green and so on, so that you can play around with them and use them to great effect.

Here's a useful link if you'd like to know more about growing box (buxus sempervirens).

And here's the pictures:-

ps I saw some box hedges at a pub this weekend.  They were, very obviously, FAKE!  Don't go there, it is so easy to grow and faked, it looks really nasty.  Must try harder!

My front garden :-(

We're getting connected to the sewers.  It's messy, muddy, dusty and there's rubble and workers everywhere.  I've been growing, pruning and caring for a box hedge surrounding the garden for 7 yrs and I have two robust slow growing bamboo plants that had reached a good, bushy size.  One morning with workers swarming over the garden, digging deep deep holes = garden destroyed, plants pulled up and tossed aside, even the robust bamboo.  I was pretty sad when I got home.  Nothing I didn't, in my heart of hearts expect, but the brutality was all too much.

After the hole was partly filled, I was able to partly save the situation by replanting the bamboo and even the hedge is partly back in place.  They were only out of the ground for 48hrs and even then they were resting in a huge mound of soil. but who knows if they will survive.  I'm watering a lot hoping to get the roots established.  Unfortunately there's also a whacking great grid in the midde of where the garden used to be so some creative solutions need to be found.  Here's some photos of my 'malheur'.

mercredi 9 février 2011

Green in the City

It was such a lovely day yesterday, bright sunshine, mild, unseasonal weather and blue skies over Paris.  I spotted this tempting roof terrace atop a very stylish building and I REALLY wanted to be on it!  Just look at those large bushes peeking over tantalisingly!

I also spotted this robust bay tree adding a touch of nature to the area round the Bourse (French Stock Exchange).

I am so dying for spring to arrive in Paris!