dimanche 23 septembre 2012

Fête des Jardins - Parc Watteau

Due to a reluctant family I saw less of the Fête des Jardins as I hoped.  Finally, we just managed a trip out to a fairly local park, but still,one that we hadn't visited before.  Weather was warm and sunny and plenty of visitors were out enjoying the day.

The Parc Watteau is in Nogent-sur-Marne in the Department of Val de Marne.  It covers 1.7 hectares and  is built on a steep hill, so it's a very challenging site.

The area, just off the main road running through Nogent and a stones throw from the main street of shops, was owned privately.  After it was purchased by the local Council in the 70s, it was developed as a public park in a classical design.  The park is quiet and calm and surrounded by stone walls which protect it from the wind.  At the top of the park, the space opens with a row of lime trees onto three terraces with the third terrace offering a fantastic view over the Marne Valley - a balcony over the Marne.

After the three tarraces, the park gives way to a very sloping lawn and a less organised area - there's a green outdoors theatre, an impressive waterfall surrounded by large rocks (great to climb for kids) and embedded with multicoloured pebbles, leading to a small round pond, and small childrens' playground.

the waterfall was much enjoyed by small boys who climbed up it

If you approach from the lower entrance to the park, there's a small climb to the top and before you go in, make sure you take a little stroll on the road Val de Beauté which is beautifully planted with grasses and plants next to the road and runs alongside a wooded area.  It's very restful.

Here are some pictures from the day of the Fête des Jardins.  There were many children and adults enjoying the old fashioned wooden games, there were stands where you could exchange plants, a stall ran by 'Mamie Rose' who used lots of herbs in her cooking, a tour of smelly watering cans (which gave off lemon, basil, rosemary etc smells when you sniffed the end of the spout.  There were various posts showing natural gardening tips and if you undertook the quiz and guessed the flavour of the jam (rhubarb), you won a keyring!  All in all, a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Impressive insect house

Well being through plants

Sniff the watering can I thought it might be a joke and it would spray water on my face, but no!

samedi 22 septembre 2012

Ding Dong - L'atelier du forgeoron, Villedieu-les-poeles

A fleeting vist to this little garden and the shop attached to the forge of Villedieu-les-poeles left me wanting to see the forge itself.  It's not a great garden, nor large nor a remarkable one.  However, it was very peaceful and the patina of these old bells, made in the forge, made me think what lovely unusual garden decorations they are, particularly when placed against the old mossy walls.  The deer and dolphin are a bit more tradition in terms of garden decorations, but they looked lovely all the same.

Here's a slightly bizzare video of a plant pot support designed and made in the forge with music so Frenchy!


The sign that tells you all you need to know

View of the beautifully designed fence and gates
 from the road
By the way my mother in law was born in this town.

vendredi 21 septembre 2012

Bois et Fôret - the forest comes to town

Passing close to the Louvre metro station yesterday, I enjoyed a little exhibition on the courtyard there.  This space is often the site of exhibitions/shows/events so it's always worth taking a peek if you're in the area.  I love how this happens in Paris - suddenly there's an interesting show or something completely unexpected in a familiar place.

Anyway yesterday the space was host to 'Bois et Fôrets' organised by the Ministry of Agriculture.  They had mounted an impressive display of forest trees, furniture and were holding seminars and events based around the theme of employement in forestry.  Around the square there are some excellent photos of people who work in some of the many jobs in forestry.

Here's some pics:-

A Bee House
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rsEdqs94RI and here's the youtube link to the advertisement.  The show is on until 23rd September 2012.

jeudi 20 septembre 2012

Paroles de Jardiniers

Photo: Plusieurs jardins vous ouvrent à nouveau leurs portes ce week-end à l'occasion de "Paroles de Jardiniers" pour vous proposer des ateliers en famille, vous donner des conseils, vous faire découvrir de nouveaux univers... Pensez à télécharger la brochure sur www.tourisme.yvelines.fr !

© 2012 Pascal Gréboval CDT 78


I've recently 'liked' the FB page of Tourism in Yvelines.  They have a cute name of 'Paroles de Jardiniers' with an online pamphlet listing all the garden events in the region.  I highly reccomend it and currently you can win a weekend in Yvelines, for two.  Give it a click!

mardi 18 septembre 2012

Arley Hall, Cheshire, England

I was pleased to have the chance to visit the gardens of Arley Hall during the summer.

Arley Hall is a Grade II listed country house in Cheshire.  It was built in the Jacobean style in 1832-1845.  The gardens are on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and are also Grade II listed meaning that the site is 'particularly important:  of more than special interest'.  The gardens were created in 1830's.  The Herbaceous Border is one of the first in Britain and remains one of its finest.  The house is approached by an impressive avenue of bleached lime trees, ending in an unusual clock tower with only one hand.

The Arley Estate is part of land held by the Warbuton family since the end of the 12th Century.  The formal gardens cover 12 acres.  Sir Peter Warbuton developed pleasure grounds and a walled kitchen garden.  During the second world war, the gardens provided food for the house and a skeleton staff ensured that the grounds didn't remain untended.

The herbaceous border is the first of its type in Britain and planted with four levels of flowerbeds.  It  is considered amongst the best in UK.

The Greenhouse is called the Vinery and was built in 1872-3 and has a large sloping roof.  The fig trees in it were planted inside shortly after it was built and there is an abundance of figs and flowers and passion fruits in this elegant white structure plus some beautiful period details such as the floor grid above.

The vegetable garden next to the greenhouse is full of produce with a gorgeous flowering border which would have been used to provide cut flowers for the house (and maybe still is).

The ha ha was built by George Latham.  A ha ha is a sudden drop providing an abrupt end to the formal gardens leading the eye to a magnificent view over farmland and grazing sheep, a very English landscape.  I guess it's called a ha ha because that's the sound you make if you don't know it's there and you fall off the edge!  Actually if you want to know more about ha ha, here's the Wilkipedia page.


The drop occurs immediately after this sundail in the centre of the garden after the steps and is unseen and  imperceptible from the garden unless you venture close up (careful not to fall!)  It ensures that the livestock cannot stray into the garden but gives an uninterrupted view over the lovely countryside without the need for a barrier.  Very clever.

There is much topiary in the garden, including these enormous tubes which are very impressive and many metres high.  Scaffolding is needed to trim them.

There are also some smaller, less mamgnificent but nevertheless impressive examples of topiary dotted around.  Lots of ideas to steal for your own garden here.

The modern flower sculpture in the pond is by Tom Leaper and is in keeping with its surrounding garden.

All around the garden you'll find beautiful vistas, paths leading into other gardens and some beautiful architectural details - gates, fences, doors, chairs, well placed vases, statues - everything is harmonious and well considered and tasteful.

And just when you think you've seen everything, you come across the alpine garden with waterfalls, ponds, bridges, little hiding places, informal stone steps leading up, down, amongst the luscious ferns and greenery with the sound of rushing water to soothe the senses.  All beautifully harmonious, on a grand scale, informal with a natural, wild feel and in sharp contrast to the orderly topiary and charming sets of small enclosed gardens.

And don't forget to visit the smaller enclosed gardens such as the Herb Garden and the Scented Gardens.

And the larger lawned gardens.

And when you really have walked enough, go have a cup of tea in the barn.  You might even want to get married in the Barn or give thanks for nature in the Grade II listed chapel.

And when you've got your energy back, take a walk in the woods and a peek through the modern sculptures.

And return home knowing that you have seen and appreciated the work of many lifetimes of gardeners and the product of much dedicated hard work by the current gardeners.

The Hall, Chapel and Gardens are open to the public - go take a look!  The barn is a licensed restaurant and cafe and there is also a restored building used for weddings and events.

Some filming has taken place in the Hall and Gardens - for 'Cludeo', 'The Forsythe Saga', 'Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' and recently two Coronation Street weddings have taken place there.