mardi 24 avril 2012

Meilland sur vente 24 - 27 April

Lots of roses for sale

samedi 21 avril 2012

Springtime in Chartres

Just an hour from Paris, Chartres is a pleasant day trip for a change of air and an uplifting view of the impressive and very beautiful cathedral widely considered to be one of the finest gothic cathedrals in France designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It dominates the skyline and must have been quite simply breathtaking on the horizon in times gone by, but be assured, it is still a powerful presence in the town and surrounding areas.  Plenty to see in this ancient settlement, now a town of just under 40 000 inhabitants.

Even in the spring we found plenty of flowers and greenery here.

A beautiful canopy of trees to give shade in the summer

Joyous, fresh yellow and white beds at the Tourist Office

An ancient stone marking the site of the Abbot's first house

More spring themed freshly coloured raised beds by the Cathedral
 The Centre for Stained Glass is also worth a vist with its  beautifully coloured's the entrance.

All in all, a very enjoyable day out.  Certainly a 'must see' if you're visiting Paris and have time for day trip.

vendredi 20 avril 2012

Sia spring flowers

Pretty pink, purple and white Sia flowers arrangements in my local florist.

jeudi 19 avril 2012

Flower Market, Ile de la Cité

View towards the spires of Notre Dame

Anyone who has trudged out of the Prefecture de la Police after a long wait to renew their resident's card will not be able to avoid having their heart lifted by the sight of the Marché aux Fleurs which is right next to the Prefecture in the Ile Saint Louis/Notre Dame quarter.

But you don't have to suffer hours of adminisration and waiting to enjoy the market which you cannot miss as Cité is the only metro station on Ile Saint Louis.

Coming out of the 'belle epoque' metro Cité you fall upon the market at Place Louis Lépine (who was a Parisien prefect) and who could resist a little walk amongst the refreshing greenery?

The market has existed since 1808 and is open every day from 8h - 19H30 except on Sundays when the place is transformed into a bird market.  The market is a mixture of florists, shops selling garden nick nacks, a couple of postcard/souvenir shops, plant shops, a shop for cactii and carnivorous plants, a store selling bird boxes and dreamcatchers, other shops selling garden sculptures, wrought iron decorations, pots, multicoloured watering cans, unusual lights and lanterns to cheer up the garden, birdcages, paintings and beautiful flower and plant related cards.  But the overall impression is that of greenery and beautifully arranged multicoloured blooms with huge olive trees and large bare rooted bushes and trees waiting outside  to grace the most elegant roof terraces in Paris.

One shop selling seeds for everything

A walk in the market is like walking in an unexpected enchanted garden with a peculiar mixture of flowers that shouldn't yet be blooming (I went in spring) which have evidently come from greenhouses, and a typical garden centre selling  healthy, seasonal and some unusual plants, some common but still beautiful.  I was pleased to find some large ferns for 10 Euros for example, which I really can't seem to find in the big garden centres, plus other green plants for balconies or gardens..  It was such a pleasure to spend half an hour marvelling at the show.

If you're looking for a little bit of fresh air and greenery amongst the other well known and ubiquitous tourist attractions in this area, spend some time here and recharge your batteries and try to walk away without even buying a little souvenir!

Here's a blog in French about the market:  .

mardi 10 avril 2012

Why do confiers go brown?

I've just worked on a beautiful terrace in Paris 15th which, not for the first time, made me pose this question.

The client had an established confier hedge in large ceramic rectangular pots.  The current hedge was well trimmed but unfortunately one wall of conifers was entirely brown, the trees dead and the adjoining trees had started to turn brown.

The client preferred that I replaced all the wall. It was quite a job to tug out and saw into the conifer trunks and there was a lot of waste - the confiers were completely rooted in the pots and entwined together.  Much sawing and tugging and dirt later......

So, removing conifers is heck of a job.  How can this be avoided?
There are many causes thought to turn conifers brown and eventually kill them:-

Brown patches usually develop during the active growth season.  This affliction particularly affects the following trees:- cuprocyparis, leylandii, chamaecyparis Lawsoniana (lawson cypress), Thuja Plicata (western red cedar).

The following words are taken from the Royal Horticultural Society website.  I'm not going to try to rewrite them nor change them because, in my eyes, you can't get better advice than the RHS:-
"Pests: Cypress aphid
Cypress aphid (Cinara cupressivora) is a relatively common cause of brown patches. A recent collaborative research project between the RHS and East Malling Research found cypress aphid to be associated with half of the cases of brown patches investigated.

Damage caused by cypress aphid develops in late spring and summer. It is found most often at the base of the hedge, but can develop at any height.Large greyish greenfly are sometimes found, but the browning often develops long after the aphids have left the foliage. Clues are left behind, including cast aphid skins and a black fungal growth (sooty mould) that grows on the sugary honeydew excreted by the pest.

Scale insects
Scale insects are found quite commonly in affected areas. These, like the cypress aphid, feed by sucking the sap from the foliage. Heavy infestations are thought to cause some dieback, but scale insect is very common and is often incidental to the problem. If there are similar numbers of scale insects on parts of the hedge unaffected by the dieback then this pest is unlikely to be the primary cause of the problem.

Pestalotiopsis dieback
A fungus called Pestalotiopsis is occasionally associated with brown patches, and can be seen as tiny, black fruiting bodies scattered over the affected foliage. This fungus usually attacks weakened or damaged plants, but once present it can sometimes cause quite severe die-back. Pestalotiopsis is more likely to be a problem in wet summers.

Coryneum canker
This disease is caused by the fungus Seiridium cardinale, and can cause branch die-back of leyland cypress and western red cedar. It is found most commonly on large trees, and is relatively rare in smaller hedges.

Honey fungus or Phytophthora root rot
If the browning affects most or all of the foliage of an individual tree in the hedge, or a tree dies completely, a root disease such as honey fungus or Phytophthora root rot could be responsible.

Hedge trimming
All conifers have little or no capacity to regrow from old wood. Over-enthusiastic hedge trimming can result in bare patches. The time of year when trimming is also important, even if it is just light trimming. A recent research project found that die-back appeared to be slightly more common after autumn trimming (mainly October). Trimming in the summer during times of plant stress, such as prolonged drought or hot, dry spells may also be a factor.

Growing conditions
The RHS Advisory Service believes that many brown patches are likely to result from adverse growing conditions such as drought, frost, waterlogging or cold, drying winds, all of which could inhibit regeneration from the trimmed foliage.

If the browning affects most of the foliage of individual trees, check for root diseases, waterlogging or establishment failure.

Prevention and control Prevention
Avoid trimming during hot or dry weather or in the autumn, and never cut into old wood. Trimming two or three times, in April, June and early August, is usually relatively safe. Removal of competing vegetation within 30cm (1ft) each side of the hedge, feeding the trees with a general fertiliser in late winter and mulching the base of the hedge with a 8cm (3in) layer of well-rotted organic matter should also help.

Non-chemical control
Bare patches may (depending on the cause) gradually fill in, but in serious cases this can take several years. It may be possible to tie in nearby healthy shoots to fill bare areas if these are not too extensive.

Chemical control
If conifer aphid is the cause of the problem then spraying with an insecticide such as Provado Ultimate Bug Killer may help, but this will need to be applied as soon as the aphids or the first signs of damage are seen."

I have also seen advice that advocates leaving the trees and seeing if they grow back green because they have been lacking water during the summer. To be honest I've never seen a confier recover from brown patches.  They usually get worse rather than better.

Brown patches might also be linked to pollution damage.

It is known, though, that conifers are particularly sensitive and vulnerable to brown patches so sometimes if you are planning to plant a large hedge, it's better to avoid them altogether, especially when planting in a garden as they are likely to grow fast and large and will be very very difficult to remove if they do develop brown patches.  Having said that, my neigbour has a lovely confier hedge that is under control, in good health and trimmed regularly so it's not oversized.  After a sunny day when I walk past, the smell reminds me of a particularly happy trip to the Troodos mountains in Cyprus.

I treated the confier hedge that remained in good condition and was more recently planted, hoping that this might do the trick.  Only time will tell.

3 for 2 pots at Carrefour!

If you buy 2 ceramic pots in Carrefour you get the third the same FREE!  I took advantage and purchased those rather nifty looking green ones.  I liked the purple ones, particularly the shape - they have the same in a biscuit/pale sand colour too. 

And good news is that the pots were only 19 Euros each to start with.  Go go go...