jeudi 31 mars 2011

Garden Furniture II

It's SO exciting in the shops at the moment; all the new garden furniture and accessories are out on sale.  I'm such a sucker; every table set with lovely glasses and jugs makes me think of idyllic warm evenings lounging in the garden, chatting and laughing with friends.  No mosquitos, no rain, of course! 

I was a bit disappointed with the selection at Habitat but I think maybe their full range is not out yet.  Did spot a few nice things though like this cute cat cushion called 'Moggy', the 'Exmouth' cushion, both at 15 Euros, these low chairs in two colours and at a reasonable price of 32 Euros.  The fruity and aqua colours are joyful and a great contrast in a green garden.  The sturdy white table and chairs are 164 Euros I think.  The illuminated pots are pretty and make a lovely effect but they need to be plugged in so they're not really suitable for outside.

mardi 29 mars 2011

National Museum of Ceramics, Sevres

I quickly passed by the National Museum of Ceramics in Sevres and impressed by the sheer formal nature of the gardens and the super protected roses.  Slightly 'cold' and a bit too formal for me though I love the huge ceramic pots at the door and in reality the topiary looks more welcoming.  Also liked this strange sculpture in the gardens.

vendredi 25 mars 2011

Water your plants! Happy Globe

There are more and more methods of self watering for plants in the shops.  I've decided to test some of them.  I was tempted to buy these pretty glass globes for my larger houseplants.  The form is pleasing, the material is glass and it looks like an ornament rather than a practical device wigh a long stem.  Two globes cost just under 9 Euros.  So far, one is working well.  The other emptied two weeks' of water into the plant almost immediately.  They are very easy to fill and use and can be used outside as well as indoors.

So, 50% effectiveness, 4/5 for attractiveness 4/5 ease of use.  2.5/5 for value for money.

I purchased mine in Bricorama.

mercredi 23 mars 2011

New pots from IKEA (zinc and otherwise)

Passing through IKEA, I noticed some pretty affordable garden cheer ups from brightly coloured deep orange and vivid blue, through pastel greens, pinks and blues, lacy off white, large zinc effect, elegant modern ceramic in black or white.  Great choice, great prices!  Use them repeatedly in threes, fives, sevens in clusters, on stairwells, in a row, on a windowsill.............

how do you know spring has arrived?

Two pics that sum up the arrival of Spring for me:- a gorgeous beaming forsythia in its golden prime.  I walk past this every day on the way to school and it cheers me up so much.  This garden doesn't get much direct sunlight but this plant gives a real ray of sunshine.

And just the previous week we had had hail and really cold temperatures but here's the Jardins du Luxembourg hoaching with people catching some sun at lunchtime.  Today I even had to queue to get into the gate I use normally.  It was lovely sitting on a Luxembourg Chair (see Fermob website) and overhearing passionate debates amongst students from the Sorbonne and Ecole des Mines whilst eating my sandwiches.

And the last clue is the smell, the smell of the ground warming up, the leaves opening, the fresh air and a certain change in the atmosphere.  Spring is sprung!

Ps Reason # 4 - the first blossom has arrived on our cherry tree, hurray!

jeudi 17 mars 2011

Arley Hall, Cheshire, UK

Someone very special to me has just got a job here.  I know that they are really going to love working in such an amazing place, being surrounded by all this green beauty and history.  I wanted to show you the glorious gardens, just some lovely pictures....go on, have a look at the website!  A real slice of England.  Visit if you can of course.

mercredi 16 mars 2011

Le Magicien de l'éphémere

Which, roughly translated means 'the Wizard of ephemeral'.  I noticed this this stunning little shop front in Rue Royale.  Lachavme, master florist since 1845, whose motto is 'excellence'.   I was stopped in my tracks by the smell of the jasmine in this display around the entrance - I literally walked past and back tracked when I smelled it, only to be met with these sumptous blooms in the colourful shop window.  If only my blog could do smell-o-vision!

I imagined sophisticated gentlemen ordering extravagant bouquets for their amour, beautifully decorated banqueting tables or society weddings overflowing with creamy roses......such decadance!

Have a look at the website and get yourself a floral screensaver from the 'goodies'.



Sitting at home feeling miserable with a gastro, it was hard not to be slightly uplifted by the sight of these trees bursting with blossom next door.

dimanche 13 mars 2011

Monoprix does it again!

More cute cache pots from Monoprix to add class to your garden or balcony or staircase.  Ranging from 5 - 7 Euros a pot.

So darn tasteful in those muted greys, greens and off whites......

Garden Furniture

I've noticed that the shops are waking up to spring and are starting to display their new garden furniture ranges.  Passing through BHV on rue Rivoli, I glanced at their selection which seemed frankly uninteresting and rather expensive.  Bricorama have some cute coloured chairs and tables at the budget end of the market.  Here's some pics of part of their range

I'm sure this will be the first of many garden ranges I'll be bringing you, can't wait to explore the shops!

dimanche 6 mars 2011

Squares of Paris: It's not really a Square!

I tracked down the other green space in 2nd arr, Square Pierre Lazareff, deep in the heart of the garment production/fashion wholesalers area.  The Square is named after a journalist on a French newspaper, France Soir.  And guess what?  It's not really a square! It's an enclosed small planted area with a high wooden structure and alongside is a strip of fenced in plants and trees.  This is not a Square!  I cannot eat my sandwiches in there!

However, there is a little story nevertheless.  The high wooden structure turns out to be a pigeon loft and there's a sign explaining why it's there which explains that this contraceptive 'pigeonnier' was installed by the Town Hall of the 2nd arrondissement of Paris to deal with the pigeon population of the area and improve the conditions of cohabitation between the birds and the residents.

Inside the loft, the pigeons can find water and food and are able to make their nests on small balconies.  Births of baby birds are regulated by the sterilisation of the eggs.

Wounded pigeons are put in the hands of the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort (near Paris).

The loft is responsible for a significant reduction of pigeon related nuisance in the area.  The pigeons group together in the loft and the cleaning of mess is also easier to handle.

Actually I was pretty speechless at that!  Here's some pics of the non-square, the loft and the Marché de Montorgueil.

So, even in the most meagre green spaces, there's still something interesting to learn.  And the 'square' is right next to the Marché de Montorgueil, a really vibrant street filled with cafés and bakers and some pretty trendy little shops.  So my walk wasn't for nothing......

Didn't find any pics of pigeons, they must all have been inside:-)

samedi 5 mars 2011

Gorgeous garden tiles

Now the work has finished in the front garden, the huge deep trench has been filled, the hole in the road repaired and the steps into our house are destroyed (along with some of the garden), it's time to think about the future and finally I can start to act on those dreams and ideas I had for the space.  Up until now it wasn't worth making plans as we always knew that we would have to replace the drainage and deconnect the septic tank eventually.

Now we're free to dream again!  I spent a few hours tidying up, sifting stones from the soil, replacing a tree, replanting the box hedge, trimming the trees and box that survived today.  It's looking much better out there.

I have some idea of what kind of staircase I'd like to replace the old one, now we just need to find a creative stone mason to do it.  I've also long lusted after some beautiful tiles for the path.  From this company:-


Gorgeous cement tiles in jewel colours with classic-with-a-twist patterns.  We'll choose a border of smaller tiles in terracotta and maybe turqoise in the corners as a border (to match the terracotta bricks of the house and the turqoise ceramic decoration near the roof which was so popular in 1920's houses in this area).  Inside the border, I'd like each of the family members to choose their favourite tiles so that the design truly belongs to all the family and we've all had a part in choosing the path to our home.  I think paths are very significant things, metaphorically and physically - leading the way home, the first thing you see when you walk out of the door in the morning and what you look out onto from your home.  I love the butterflies, birds and frogs, dh, the figure with the ball and the cactus design,  the children some patterns, the lizards, turtles, birds.  It should be a really beautiful design.

Take a look at their website and see that there are some surprising effects with these beautiful tiles (the website is also in English).  Flick through the online catalogue and be amazed.  I don't see any designs outside so I'm checking with the manufacturers that they are suitable for exterior use.  I really hope so!,carocim,200397,15829.asp

Actually this article in Marie Claire Maison says they are suitable for outside and inside too.  Yipee!


vendredi 4 mars 2011

Balcony in 12th arr

Last year I was pleased to be invited to help a friend bring some colour to her windows.  She lived in a typical Haussmanian flat near the Gare du Lyon and her favourite colours are yellows, oranges and pinks.

I used her existing windowboxes and pots to create displays of hot pink geraniums, marigolds and ivy and asparagus to give some green (she specifically wanted the asparagus).  A very simple scheme but nice and 'hot'.  I also added some little confier and evergreen 'trees' for the ground level.

Here's some photos of the empty window and then with windowboxes.  The photos don't show how nice the boxes looked eventually, as they were freshly planted  when the photos were taken, but I understand they did bring a welcome breath of nature to her family.  She was kind enough to write a reccomendation for me:-

"Claire took the time to listen to my preferences and took into account the type of light the balconies received. She bought plants, pots and soil and did all the planting in one afternoon. Our three balconies are now filled with flowers that will bloom all spring and summer, as well as ivies, and other greenery to balance out the flowers. Thanks to Claire, we are enjoying a beautiful blooming mini-garden on our balconies and the entire family is delighted. »

jeudi 3 mars 2011

Green on the Rails

Travellers on the newest metro line - Line 14 - in Paris are surprised to pull into the Gare du Lyon station.  One has the impression of entering a rainforest jungle!

Catch the line and be amazed by this fabulous (and seemingly well kept) large garden on the side of the tracks., right next to the train.   Much nicer to look at than a wall full of advertising, and completely unexpexted.

Line 14 was only opened just over 10 years ago and it's the only line with driverless trains.  It's a very modern line, lots of concrete, glass and modern design of the stations.  If you take this line, try to stand in the front carriage right at the front where the driver's cab would have been (if there was one).  It's a great ride, fast and full of wind-ey tunnels and long stretches. where you can see the stations approaching from the darkness like beacons ahead.  You can even pretend you're driving.  Great fun, even for adults!

I always wonder who looks after this garden at the Gare du Lyon, whoever, they are doing a great job!  It's a pleasure to look at and really unusual in an underground station.

mercredi 2 mars 2011

Winter Jasmine

We inherited a very sturdy yellow winter jasmine which is climbing an old trellis.  It is very virulent and, if left unchecked, it will droop down to the floor and becomes quite unruly.  I trim it back hard every summer and it really pays back my hard work.

Although it peeks out from a tiny hole in a concrete drive, the plant is huge and was the only bright spot of colour on what was a grey dull wall.  We painted the wall off white and now the light reflects off it and the pretty vibrant yellow flowers look even more beautiful, especially during a long, dark winter.  It is such an amazing plant coming from such a tiny hole, sometimes people stop and comment when it's in full bloom.  It has given me much cheer on difficult days as I look out onto a rainy or snowy scene.

The flowers have all but gone now but now we can look forward to the bright green leaves that will develop.

If you have a wall that needs cheering up, you could do well to choose a winter jasmine to give your garden some winter colour and interest with foilage in the summer.

There are 200 or more species of Jasminum.  Climbing jasmines will twine themselves over any suitable support - trellis, fence, arch or even over a large shrub or into a tree.  In cool areas, jasmines should be grown in a sheltered position.  Jasmines are fully hardy to frost tender, ours does not seem to be affected by frost at all.  Jasmines need well drained soil in full sun or partial shade (ours has partial shade in a position that receives sunshine until 11h every day and is in a sheltered position out of the wind).

If your neigbour has a jasmine, you could ask nicely for a cutting in summer, pop it in a loam based potting compost in bright light (but keep it out of full sunshine).  Plant in the Autumn or spring.

Our jasmine is jasminum nudiflorum (Winter Jasmine).  It's described as a deciduous shrub because it loses its leaves in Autum, ready to bear flowers in winter and the leaves are produced in spring on the site of the fallen flowers.  Here's a close up of our glorious jasmine.

For successful winter jasmines, it's better to plant on a wall that doesn't get too much sunshine as the sun can damage the flowers after a frost - preferably a north facing wall - wow a plant that likes this exposure - that's a treat for those with a north facing wall.

Never plant a winter jasmine on an east facing wall because the morning sun will defrost the flowers too quickly, leading to damage.

One should prune a winter jasmine at the end of winter and the goal of pruning should be to open up the plant mass by cutting back the old branches that are stopping the young ones from pushing through.  Also, the branches that flowered in the winter should be cut back.