mardi 21 juin 2011

Or Brun on Vente

Go to for sales of Or Brun products including very cute and practical insect traps.  Decent reductions on all products including fertilizer, plant treatments, watering balls (for when you're not there to water) and so on and all for use in organic gardening.

samedi 18 juin 2011

Acid Loving Plants

Here's a fine spring display with Acers, Pieris and Azaeleas in a local municipal space.  The fountain is very refreshing  in the summer as it throws out a fine spray.  All these plants have in common is a love of acid soils.  Let me explain!

Composts for acid loving plants are called ERICACEOUS which tend to need neutral to acid ph measurements.  Such composts are called loam based composts and tend not to have lime.  The term Ericaceous is a reference to the Ericaceae, family of plants (heathers) generally intolerant of lime.

The majority of acid loving plants are originally from woodland areas and they prefer cool, shady environments with a soil rich in hummus, moist and well drained.  Such soils are fertile because nutrients are annually replenished by the recyclying of fallen leaves.  Plants that thrive on acid soils, like azaleas and rhododendrons can grow well in containers filled with lime free or ericaceous compost.

Examples of plants for acid soils:

- Acer Japonicum or Acer Palmatum, Deciduous tree (Japanese maple that can grow into very large trres or bushes or can keep in bush form if planted in a container),

- Camellia Japonica, evergreen shrub (shrub with dark green, leathery foilage and is covered in large colourful flowers in spring),

- Andromeda Polifolia , evergreen shrub (otherwise known as bog rosemary),

- Styrax Japonicus deciduous tree ( Japanese snowbell with glossy leaves turning red in Autumn),

- Cassiope Lycopodioides, evergreen shrub (heather like shrub with dark green leaves that forms a dense ground covering mat),

- Desfontainia Spinosa, evergreen shrub (Has a Holly like appearance with tubular red flowers tipped with yellow,

- Celmisia Walkeri, evergreen shrub ( has arching, spreding branches, low growing with dark green leaves and daisy like white flowers in summer),

- Erica Cinerea 'Romiley', evergreen shrub (bell heather with magenta flowers from early summer to autumn above dark green leaves),

- Magnolia, Pieris Formosa, deciduous shrub ( summer flowering with goblet shaped flowers and dark green leaves)

- Pinus Sylvestris,evergreen shrub (Dwarf, slow growing tupe of Scots Pine with bright golden yellow needle-like foilage),

- Rhododendron Luteum, deciduous shrub (mid green leaves and funnel shaped sticky sweet smelling yellow flowers),

- Skimia Japonica 'Rubella', evergreen shrub (tough plant with dark red flower buds in autumn and winter which open into white flowers with a pleasant frangrace, very popular for pots and winter arrangements),

- Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea, evergreen shrub (cowberries that spread over a wide area that produces white flowers that turn into red fruits),

- Phlox Adsurgens, perennial (a mound of light green foilage with pink/orange flowers in late spring),

- Podophyllum Hexandrum, Perennial ( Purple splashed leaves, spreading plant with white or pale pink flowers),

- Semiaquilegia Ecalacarata, perennial (delicate plant with bell shaped flowers in purple red in early summer).

mardi 7 juin 2011

Complementary Colours

On the HSV colour wheel opposite colours are complementary colours, that when mixed produce a shade of grey.In colour theory, two colours are called complementary if, when mixed in the proper proportion, they produce a neutral colour (grey, white, or black).
Because of the limitations imposed by the range of colours that were available throughout most of the history of art, many artists still use a traditional set of complementary pairs, including:

white and black

red and green

blue and orange

yellow and violet

The use of complementary colours is an important aspect of aesthetically pleasing art and graphic design. This also extends to other fields such as contrasting colours in logos and retail display. When placed next to each other, complements make each other appear brighter. On an artistic colour wheel, complementary colours are placed opposite one another.

Sometimes we see combinations of colours that really 'work' or 'pop' against each other.  It's likely you'll be seeing complementary colours in action.  I always get confused by the term 'complementary ' because I think it should mean matching or similar colours but in fact, it's the opposite;

We can also use these theories in garden or windowbox design if we want to create really eyecatching compositions.  This flower shop in Nogent reminded me of how vibrant red and green are together.  Why not try some complementary colours in your windowboxes (as a smal experiment) or in a corner of your garden?  Have a look around and see what catches your eye in gardens and green spaces, you might suddenly be finding complementary colours everywhere!

samedi 4 juin 2011

Jardin du Luxembourg

I couldn't not mention a visit to Le jardin du Luxembourg here in my blog.  I pass by many times a month and sometimes have time to take a speedy sandwich lunch there.  One May morning, I had time to spare so I took a coffee in the garden and, as well as the coffee, I drank up the lovely calm atmosphere.  The Garden is a very important green space in Paris and offers a multitude of experiences for the visitor and is an exceptionally lovely, varied park.  It  is the second largest park in Paris, located in the 6th arr.  The park is located in the garden of the French Senat whick is housed in the Luxembourg Palace.

Marie de Medicis decided, in 1611, to build a palace in imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. She purchased the Hotel du Luxembourg and began construction of the new palace. She commissioned Salomon de Brosse to build the palace and a fountain, which still exists.  In 1612 she planted 2,000 elm trees, and directed a series of gardeners, most notably Tommaso Francini, to build a park.  He planned two terraces with balustrades and parterres laid out along the axis of the chateau, aligned around a circular basin. He also built the Medici Fountain to the east of the palace as a nympheum, an artificial grotto and fountain (see my pictures below; it's a very calm and beautiful place encircled by large ivy garlands).

In 1630 she bought additional land and enlarged the garden to thirty hectares, and entrusted the work to Jacques Boyceau de la Barauderie, the indendant of the royal gardens of Tuileries and the early garden of Versailles. He was one of the early theorists of the new and more formal garden à la française, and he laid out a series of squares along an east-west alley closed at the east end by the Medici Fountain, and a rectangle of parterres with broderies of flowers and hedges in front of the palace. In the centre he placed an octagonal basin with a fountain, with a perspective toward what is now the Paris observatory.

Later monarchs largely neglected the garden. In 1780, the Comte de Provence, the future Louis XVIII, sold the eastern part of the garden for real estate development. Following the French Revolution, however, the leaders of the French Directory expanded the garden to forty hectares by confiscating the land of the neighboring religious order of the Carthusian monks. The architect Jean Chalgrin, the architect of the Arc de Triomphe, took on the task of restoring the garden. He remade the Medici Fountain and laid out a long perspective from the palace to the observatory. He preserved the famous pepiniere, or nursery garden of the Carthusian order, and the old vineyards, and kept the garden in a formal French style.

During and after the July Monarchy of 1848, the park became the home of a large population of statues; first the Queens and famous women of France, lined along the terraces; then, in 1880s and 1890s, monuments to writers and artists, a small-scale model by Bartholdi of his Statue of Liberty and one modern sculpture by Zadkine.

In 1865, during the reconstruction of Paris by Louis Napoleon, the rue de l'Abbé de l'Epée, (now rue Auguste-Comte) was extended into the park, cutting off about fifteen hectares, including the old nursery garden. The building of new boulevards also required moving and rebuilding the Medici Fountain to its present location.
During this reconstruction, the director of parks and promenades of Paris, Gabriel Davioud, built new ornamental gates and fences around the park, and polychrome brick garden houses. He also transformed what remained of the old Chartreux nursery garden, at the south end of the park, into an English garden with winding paths, and planted a fruit garden in the southwest corner. He kept the regular geometric pattern of the paths and alleys, but did create one diagonal alley near the Medici fountain which opened a view of the Pantheon.
The garden in the late nineteenth century contained a marionette theater, a music kiosk. greenhouses, an apiary or bee-house; an orangerie also used for displaying sculpture and modern art (used until the 1930s); a rose garden, the fruit orchard, and about seventy works of sculpture.

The garden is largely devoted to a green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and centred on a large octagonal basin of water, with a central jet of water; in it children sail model boats.  The garden is famed for its calm atmosphere. Surrounding the bassin on the raised balustraded terraces are a series of statues of former French queens, saints and copies after the Antique. In the southwest corner, there is an orchard of apple and pear trees and the théâtre des marionnettes (puppet theatre). The gardens include a large fenced-in playground for young children and their parents and a vintage carousel. In addition, free musical performances are presented in a gazebo on the grounds and there is a small cafe restaurant nearby, under the trees, with both indoor and outdoor seating from which many people enjoy the music over a glass of wine.

Look at these Fermob 'Luxembourg' chairs with the name of the café on the back and these cute high chairs for children.  The café is expensive but does a great 'crème'.

The morning I was there, two eldery ladies were practising tai chi in the stunningingly well kept pavillion.  It was very calm.

A pigeon loft.

The École nationale supérieure des Mines de Paris and the Odéon theatre stand next to the Luxembourg Garden.

Opening hours for the Luxembourg Garden depend on the month: opening between 7:30 and 8:15 am; closing at dusk between 4:45 and 9:45 pm.  It is very busy when the weather is good and can feel crowded, despite the huge spaces and it is, understandably, a very popular destination for tourists and the many students from the école des Mines and the nearby Sobonne.  The puppet theatre is still going and is very popular with children, it's very old fashioned and the owner makes sure the children stay in line!  The childrens' playground is absolutely great, fenced in, no escape and it has some fabulous games.  We had to pay a small entrance fee to go in but it was worth it.  There are tennis courts there too.

Thanks to Wilkipedia for the history.  They are my pictures and my comments, though!

jeudi 2 juin 2011


The thing I love about Acers are their pretty, fragile leaves.  In the garden I planted an Acer about 7 yrs ago in a large container.  I love seeing the sun come through the leaves and this year there are other fuschia coloured flowers growing through the leaves.  It makes me feel good when I see something so pretty.

Pretty Paris

What I love about walking around Paris is seeing the unexpected and a glimpse of the private spaces that are never quite what you imagine.  Passing through garment district yesterday on rue Réamur, I spied this sumptous green courtyard peeking out.  It would normally be hidden behind an impressive set of wooden doors but just for a moment, passers by had a glimpse of this lovely space.

Habitat again

Hot hot hot colours in this Ali Baba's cavern for the garden and terrace at Habitat.

Motorway musings

Weekend in Normandie and what has impressed me this time - the green rolling fields, the beautiful forests, traditional houses, the Camembert, the cider?  No, well, yes but no.  Speeding along the A13 after braving the traffic jams in Paris, we stopped for a bite to eat.and I found my hand reaching for my camera in the motorway service station, of all places.

Although I'm not a rose person myself, I was impressed how this little well kept garden which is simply red and pink roses and thriving lavender.  Simple and cheery.  You wouldn't think a busy motorway was a few yards away.