Mediterranean Gardening France

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April / avril 2019
A visit to two private gardens in the Var

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On a very wet April morning 19 stoical members set out to visit two delightful gardens in the Var. On arrival at Mavis’s charming and informal garden in Carcès she kindly sat us down in her garden room, out of the rain, to tell us about the development of the garden. She and her late husband moved to the house and garden 22 years ago, and she has been working on the garden since then.

A wet start to the visit
Part of the cistus collection

Describing it as a ‘Potterer’s Garden’, Mavis is a keen plantswoman who loves to take cuttings and propagate them. She then looks for an appropriate space in the garden, and ‘pops them in’. Her early work included a major cut back of pine tree and ‘chênes verts’ to provide room to develop the informal planting. Mavis has a wonderful collection of cistus and euphorbias and extremely pretty ground cover perennials, including alpine phlox for early flowering.

Cistus, euphorbias and flowering shrubs

Nearest the kitchen is her well-stocked herb garden, and we learned a useful tip: do not plant different varieties of mint in the same area or unwanted hybrids will result!

The herb garden

Mavis is a real enthusiast, and this is very evident in the exuberant collection of trees, shrubs and perennials.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch in Montfort, and were able to dry off and warm up, before visiting Saskia’s lovely garden in Correns. An added bonus was that the rain had stopped! Saskia and her husband bought a plot of land on a hillside 14 years ago, built their house, and Saskia has enjoyed planning and planting the garden ever since. The garden has a fantastic view over the valley to the massif of Le Grand Bessillon, but is exceptionally rocky. The first job was to clear a large number of pine trees and some of the oaks, to allow more light into the garden and olive grove. Saskia made use of the large boulders which were dug up for the house foundations and pool to create rocky enclosures and walls. Cistus, rosemary and lavender grow profusely in the gravel garden and a magnificent Japanese wisteria hangs down from a trellis providing exquisitely perfumed shade.

A cheerful display of planted pots
Cistus, rosemary and lavender in the gravel garden
The wisteria

Saskia is a dedicated gardener, devoting about two hours a day to planning, planting and maintaining this delightful garden.

Text: Gill Robinson
Photos: Gill Robinson and Nicola D’Annunzio