Category Archives: garden writing

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

A look back

This blog in 2012:*

I posted 173 times and received 39,923 views from readers from 147 countries.

(I do, however, take WordPress’s “My Stats” with a grain of salt.  A few mornings ago, it showed me with 10 views from 4 visitors in 6 countries.  Maybe one viewer was on an airplane?)

Posts with the most views: “Enclosures of the kings” and “A garden in the Virunga hills” — both in February and both after enclos*ure was featured on WordPress’s “Freshly Pressed” and Fine Gardening’s “Garden Photo of the Day.”

Most viewed individual photos:  Japanese Tea House (below)

Japanese tea house with mid-century garden chairs.

The Japanese tea house at Tudor Place with mid-century garden chairs.

and Tanner Springs Park (below)

A summer camp visit to Tanner Springs Park in Portland, Oregon.

A summer camp visits Tanner Springs Park in Portland, Oregon.

Thumbnails of both are featured on pages one and two of Google Image Search for those topics.

Search term bringing the most views to this blog: “Chateau Gaillard.”  I have never posted about Chateau Gaillard.

Strangest search term bringing (2) views to this blog: “why would someone enclos [sic] a front porch and make their side entrance the main address.”  Please, I would never do that.

Best blogging lesson learned:  In a country where the power goes off several times a day, click on “save draft” constantly.

Most popular enclos*ure photo on Pinterest:

18 stick in compost pile

from “A visit to GOFTC.”    “A pole is placed in the middle of the [compost] pile so it can slide in and out. If it is pulled out warm and damp, the pile is in good shape.”

Most annoying WordPress feature:  a spellcheck that changes ‘enclos*ure’ to ‘enclose*ure.’   Also, quote marks are frequently facing the wrong direction — see just above.

My own favorite image this year: I really couldn’t pick one, but I did love the pouring teapot in the garden of the Sowathe Tea Factory last January (below).

Sowathe cup of tea

Thank you all for visiting enclos*ure in 2012.

*according to my Annual Report and “My Stats.”

Today’s quote

People often ask us, in an amazed way, “how do you possibly garden together?”. . . [O]ne person’s strengths fill in for the other’s weaknesses. The human eye contains two kinds of receptors: rods respond to light or darkness; cones are sensitive to color and detail. Men’s eyes have more rods, a thousand times more sensitive to light than cones, so men wait for low light, often seeing better in the dark. With a plethora of cones, women may stumble in the dark but are better able to respond to the subtle blush of a rose. It doesn’t stop there. Men and women process the information that comes in through their eyes differently. Women store visual information on both sides of their brains, men on one side only: this give men better depth perception, but at the price of color recall, which is easier for women. Ten percent of men are functionally color blind, and almost none have the selective capacity of a woman’s eye, well trained.

– Nori and Sandra Pope, from Color by Design:  Planting the Contemporary Garden



Filed under African gardens, American gardens, design, garden design, garden writing, landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens

January reading

Happy 2013!

January WPA posterA silkscreen poster of  the Illinois WPA Art Project (ca. 1936 – 1941), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

On my nightstand for January reading:

Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City by Dan Pearson.  His city garden is the best example of what I want for our Washington, D.C., garden when we return.

Illustrated History of Landscape Design by Elizabeth Boults and Chip Sullivan

The American Meadow Garden by John Greenlee and Beautiful N0-Mow Yards by Evelyn J. Hadden

The City Shaped:  Urban Patterns and Meaning Through History by Spiro Kostof

Color by Design:  Planting the Contemporary Garden by Nori and Sandra Pope

The New Perennial Garden by Noël Kingsbury

– none particularly new, but indications of my current interests.

I just finished re-reading Peter Martin’s The Pleasure Gardens of Virginia:  From Jamestown to Jefferson.  I recommend it — along with Barbara Wells Sarudy’s Gardens and Gardening in the Chesapeake, 1700 – 1805 – if you garden in the U.S. mid-Atlantic.  Martin is particularly good on Mount Vernon and Monticello and on Jefferson’s changing enthusiasms and false starts.  (Martin and Sarudy differ somewhat on the extent of the influence of the English landscape garden style in 18th century America.)

(I also love Fergus M. Bordewich’s Washington: The Making of the American Capital for landscape/city planning history.)

Right now I’m really taken with the Game of Thrones books (I know, I’m behind the trend; I’m in Rwanda.)  I’m thinking of making the jump to an e-reader this month and then loading on the second book (aka Season Two) to watch in February.  I also want Hillary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies soon (I had to re-read Wolf Hall last month first — it’s so good).

What are your plans for winter reading?

Today’s (rather long) quote

With a transatlantic perspective, Horace Walpole struck a prophetic note in 1775 just before the outbreak of war.  He imagined a declaration of gardening independance when he predicted that “some American will . . . revive the true taste in gardening. . . . I love to skip into futurity and imagine what will be done on the giant scale of a new hemisphere.”  Walpole did not base his statement on any knowledge of American gardens.  He simply lamented what he perceived to be the incipient stage of a reaction against the idealizing landscape gardening of Capability Brown in favor of an affected variety and intricacy that he thought characterized the picturesque school.  The rising interest in horticulture and uses of gardens as places to display flowers and flowering shrubs struck him, even in a manmade landscape, as out of tune with the sublimity of open landscape.  For him, the best seemed over by  1770.  Perhaps there was hope for a revival in America, where huge expanse of unspoiled and panoramic landscape offered endless opportunities to invoke “ideal beauty,” with its natural harmony and continuity. . . .  The American landscape garden, however, never realized that vision.

In America, as in England, the direction in the new [19th] century was toward the picturesque display of plants in gardens, a development promoted by the proliferation of nurseries and seed houses all over the East and by plant-hunting expeditions to all parts of the world.”

– Peter Martin, The Pleasure Gardens of Virginia (see above)


Filed under American gardens, culture and history, design, garden design, garden writing, nature, vintage landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens, working in the garden

A dachterrasse (yes, bitte) and Friday miscellany

I recently discovered the beautiful German blog Gartenblick  (Garden View) by Dusseldorf photographer Sibylle Pietrek.

I particularly liked this post about her small, but really lovely, roof terrace (dachterrace).  I was impressed that the designer  — Karim Rashid — could achieve a real sense of an edge of a meadow (with a lounge chair) in so few square feet.

In her post, Sibylle writes that she uses the space for “early evening aperitif, photo shoots, painting, reading, and painting nails.” And to catch the long autumn afternoon sun.  What a nice refuge.

I’m starting to  think about the possibilities for the flat porch roof of our house back in D.C. . . .

All the above photos: ©Sibylle Pietrek, used here with permission.  Please check her blog before pinning or sharing.


Please check out Garden Rant’s review of October annuals at the Smithsonian Institution’s gardens.  Again, why are the S.I. gardens so wonderful and its neighbor, the White House, has this?

Have you seen the online Landscape Architect’s Guide to Washington, D.C., featuring write-ups by 20 L.A.s on 75 historic and contemporary landscapes?  I wish it were somewhat more opinionated (see above), but it’s useful for a visit to the Capital.

The Global Garden,” the weekly series of the Los Angeles Times’s home and garden blog, explores “multicultural L.A. through the lens of its landscapes.”  Now it has created a library of its posts, here. In the last year, the series has looked at sugar cane, shiso, loquat, purslane, moringa, sweet lemon, ice cream bean, and more. It will continue to update the archive with new material.

I really like this garden by the firm Covachita in San Pedro, Mexico (I believe it’s their studio).  It effectively combines edgy modern urban with antique farm.

The “Urban Jungle” columns by Patterson Clark in The Washington Post are always so interesting, especially this recent one about milkweed (Asclepias syriaca — the light pink one).  If yours left pods and white fluff all over your garden in September, consider how — during World War II — you (or your enterprising child) could have been paid about 15¢ a bushel for them.  The Japanese occupation of Java had cut off supplies of kapok — a fiber (then) needed to fill life vests.

ADDENDUM: I clicked on ‘publish’ and then found one more. I have to admit I love this sort of thing.


Filed under American gardens, design, garden design, garden writing, landscape, nature, plants, The Sunday porch, Washington, D.C., gardens