Category Archives: French gardens

Life in gardens: Cornusson

You’ve made your garden; how will you live in it?

Une ronde a Saint Edmond, via flickr, Bibliotheque de Toulouse Commons“Une ronde à Saint Edmond, Cornusson, [in the Pyrenees, France,]” c. 1900, by Eugène Trutat, via Bibliotheque de Toulouse Commons on flickr.

[T]he significance of the garden cannot be restricted to the domain of the aesthetic. That the garden affords sensory pleasure and invites the exercise of taste is, to be sure, an important dimension of the significance that gardens have for many people, but not one that even begins to exhaust the place that these same people afford to the garden within a wider conception of ‘the good life’.

– David E. Cooper, from A Philosophy of Gardens

[The] fragmentary world is mended here,
And in this air a clearer sunlight plays.

Adrienne Rich, from “Design in Living Colors

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Filed under architecture, culture and history, design, French gardens, garden design, landscape, life in gardens, vintage landscape

Life in gardens: Belesta, France

Bebe et les pigeons, Belesta, 1897, flickr Commons

“Bébé et les pigeons, Bélesta,” 1897, by Eugène Trutat, via Bibliothèque de Toulouse Commons on flickr.

Trutat (1840-1910) was a naturalist, geologist, mountaineer of the Pyrenees, and the curator of the Museum of Toulouse.

He was also an early photographer — beginning in 1859 — and was particularly interested in using the medium for science. He eventually took almost 15,000 images and authored a number of books, including Photography Applied to Archaeology and Photography Applied to Natural History.

He also took many beautiful pictures of his family and friends, including the one at this link, here, of his sons, Paul and Henri. He took several photos of Bébé, a little girl, in October 1897.

There’s more in words than I can teach:
Yet listen, Child! — I would not preach;
But only give some plain directions
To guide your speech and your affections.
Say not you love a roasted fowl
But you may love a screaming owl,
And, if you can, the unwieldy toad
That crawls from his secure abode
Within the mossy garden wall
When evening dews begin to fall,
Oh! mark the beauty of his eye:
What wonders in that circle lie!
So clear, so bright, our fathers said
He wears a jewel in his head!
And when, upon some showery day,
Into a path or public way
A frog leaps out from bordering grass,
Startling the timid as they pass,
Do you observe him, and endeavour
To take the intruder into favour:
Learning from him to find a reason
For a light heart in a dull season.
And you may love him in the pool,
That is for him a happy school,
In which he swims as taught by nature,
Fit pattern for a human creature,
Glancing amid the water bright,
And sending upward sparkling light.

– Dorothy Wordsworth, from “Loving and Liking: Irregular Verses Addressed to a Child


Filed under architecture, culture and history, design, French gardens, garden design, landscape, life in gardens, nature, vintage landscape

Spring holds on in France

École du Breuil, Paris 12e, photo by Alain Delavie.

École du Breuil, Paris 12e, photo by Alain Delavie.

“Sit down, it’s spring!”

This is the message of a charming chair at the Ecole du Breuil in Paris.  The photo is by Alain Delavie* from his blog Paris côté jardin (Paris  garden side).

However, in his post on May 26, Delavie noted that the temperature was “hardly conducive to lazing in the shade of a tree … more to a jacket and mulled wine.”  Indeed, Paris had record cold weather for the end of May.  Today, the temperature will be around 14°C or 57°F — pretty chilly.

Paris côté jardin is a wonderful resource for gardeners preparing to visit (or even luckier, live in) Paris or the Ile-de-France.  Delavie is the editor of Rustica Hebdo magazine and editorial advisor to  Equally impressive, he is a member of the European Network of Master Composters.

(The blog is in French, but there is a Google Translate button.)

The Breuil School is run by the city of Paris and is located on 23 hectares in the Bois de Vincennes.  It was founded in 1867 by Baron Haussmann and Alphonse Du Breuil to provide the Paris and Seine region with properly trained gardeners.  Today, its mission is to train gardeners, technicians, and managers for the city of Paris “on the subject of plants in the urban space.”

The school enrolls 300 students at a time:  200 in the classroom and 100 in apprenticeships.  Its grounds and facilities include an arboretum, heritage orchard, greenhouse, many plant collections, and library.

Today’s quote

Tant que mai n’est au 28, l’hiver n’est pas cuit.

Until May 28, winter is not cooked.

– French saying, via Paris côté jardin

And another

As gardeners, surely we have done our duty once we have registered our disapproval at the general arrangement of the universe, with complaints of special sharpness directed toward the clumsiness — indeed, sloth — with which wind and rains are scheduled. It is all that can be expected of us. The rest is the full responsibility of the heavens and need not, therefore, concern us. It does seem to me odd, nevertheless, that this “Nature,” which is supposed to be so wonderful, so rarely lets anything come to full perfection. It is all designed on the frog in the well principle, two hops forward and one backward until a certain level is reached, then the whole thing collapses. That is all anybody needs to know about nature.

– Henry Mitchell, from The Essential Earthman

*Used here with his kind permission.


Filed under design, French gardens, garden design, garden writing, landscape, nature, working in the garden

Vintage landscape: Bagatelle Garden (and Chelsea Miscellany)

Bagatelle/enclos*ure Hand-tinted (3″ x 5″) glass lantern slide of Bagatelle Garden, Paris, France, ca. 1930, photographer unknown.

Below: two details.

Bagatelle detail/enclos*ure

The image is from the Garden Club of America Collection, part of the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian Institution (used here by permission).

Bagatelle detail/enclos*ure

The Archives hold over 60,000 photos and records documenting 6,300 historic and contemporary American gardens.  At its core are almost 3,000 hand-colored glass lantern and 35mm slides donated by the Garden Club of America.

Smithsonian Gardens maintains 11 gardens around the Smithsonian Institution’s grounds and also has a good blog here.

Chelsea Miscellany

It’s RHS  Chelsea Flower Show time!  Their website is here.

All The Telegraph’s  Chelsea coverage is here; The Guardian’s is here; The Independent’s is here.

BBC coverage is here.  You may need this to view it.  (View episodes soon; some expire in four days.)

The New York Times reports on how gnomes will be allowed in the show this year (only), here.  In the Herald (Dublin), “Diarmuid Gavin has branded the Chelsea Flower Show ‘dull’ and described Prince Harry’s garden at the centenary exhibition as ‘bad,’” here.

Studio ‘g’  has photos of the Best in Show winner — the Australian garden — here, and they promise more pictures to come.  Also, check out The Galloping Gardener’s report, here (thanks to GD by CM) — Gardenista’s, here – and The Enduring Gardener’s, here.   Anne Wareham of thinkinGardens comments on two of this year’s entries, here.

Sources for seeds for cow parsley — plant of the moment at this year’s show, according to Gardenista – here.

Instagram photos tagged #chelseaflowershow are here.  GAP Photos has 103 photos of Chelsea, here.  More photos, as well as plant lists, are posted on Shoot, here.

Where have you found good photos or reviews of the show?


Filed under art, British gardens, culture and history, design, French gardens, garden design, garden writing, landscape, nature, plants, vintage landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens

Blois garden in May

Blois garden/enclos*ure

Forgive me for re-blogging these photos from 2011, but I am missing the particular beauty of May in the northern hemisphere.

Blois garden/enclos*ure

This is a garden overlooked by the Chateau de Blois in France.

Blois garden/enclos*ure

I took these photos in May 2007.

Blois garden/enclos*ure

The garden was designed by Gilles Clément.

Blois garden/enclos*ure

The hedges are yew. In between are Mutabilis roses and Stipa gigantea. I have forgotten all the emerging perennials, but believe I saw Joe Pye weed and anemones.


Filed under design, French gardens, landscape, nature, plants