Mediterranean Gardening France

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April / avril 2018
A visit to a Bourse aux Plantes in Villecroze and a Provençal garden in Salernes, Var

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We started our day with a visit to the Bourse aux Plantes in Villecroze. Under the backdrop of the ‘grottes troglodytes’, the park was laid out with an assortment of stalls selling a wide variety of colourful and realistically priced plants. We explored the stalls and made several purchases.

Plant stalls at the foot of the troglodyte caves
Colourful roses for sale

Then, with the kind hospitality of Phil and Mica Grebot, we enjoyed our picnic lunches on their terrace, which has beautiful views. After lunch, Mica gave us a very informative introduction to the history and development of the garden that had been created by the late Nathalie Rigg with the help of her husband David.

The development of Nathalie and David’s house and garden began twenty years ago. The plot was originally a vineyard and it had to be extensively excavated in order to facilitate the building of the villa and terraces which now surround it. An artesian well was discovered, and this enabled an adequate water supply for the trees and plants which were planted in the earlier years.

On arrival at the garden we entered into an Yves St Laurent style, Moroccan-inspired, blue-walled parterre, then on to the shady terrace.

The garden descends down a stairway lined with magnificent aeoniums. Branching off the path are a series of different ‘rooms’, each offering a peaceful and tranquil setting in which to sit and contemplate. One such room discreetly conceals the swimming pool and a wonderful egg sculpture by Rebecca Campbell. In another room you can sit at the end of a small rill and listen to the gentle trickle of water while admiring a raised lily pond.

A stairway lined with aeoniums
A garden room
The pool and egg sculpture
The rill and lily pond

Another seating area can be found under an olive tree, on a terrace encircled with miniature box. A further area has a colourful fremontodendron and a ceanothus, underplanted with centaurea. There is a shady walkway lined with pleached hornbeams, interconnecting some of the rooms.

A seating area with fremontodendron and ceanothus
Pleached hornbeams line a walkway

The garden was indeed a delight to visit and a true testament of the dedication, vision and hard work of Nathalie, who sadly died three years ago. Her legacy remains in this wonderful garden.

Text and photographs: Linda Cosby