Mediterranean Gardening France

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Jardin de garrigue chez Arlette et Alain Vidart – Lauris, Luberon Sud, Vaucluse

General Description: Nous avons acquis un assez grand terrain comprenant un vallon avec des chênes, il y a 25 ans. Le jardin d’environ 2000 m2 a été planté sur un terrain dégagé pour la construction d’une maison de vacances familiale. Il est découpé en carrés séparés par des dallages afin d’en faciliter l’entretien.

Le jardin a été conçu avec le temps pour s’intégrer dans le paysage. En premier, nous avons planté des arbres avec une réussite inégale : mûrier-platane, cyprès, cèdre de l’Atlas, arbres de judée, sophoras, oliviers. Puis la plantation a été organisée sur la pente : rocaille et vivaces au Nord à mi ombre, pergola à l’Ouest abritant les repas, terrasse au Sud et plantes couvre-sol à l’Est. Une petite cuisine d’été a été installée. Une haie d’éléagnus et pyracanthe plantée en 2015-17, en place de genêts en fin de course, nous sépare d’une petite route.

Rosiers ‘Meipock‘ et senecios, sous le figuier

Soil and climate: Terre calcaire, lourde et argileuse. Eté chaud et sec, hiver froid pouvant descendre jusqu’à -10°C. Quelques jours de mistral fort au printemps. Pas de forage possible, donc arrosage avec l’eau de la ville. Aucune pelouse. Arrosage par tuyaux poreux quelques minutes programmé la nuit. Aucune plantation n’a survécu sans être arrosée régulièrement le premier été.

Ouest, quatre carrés et Chagaga (le chat noir)

Plants and projects: Simplifier l’entretien en remplaçant les plantes déficientes par des plus résistantes à la sécheresse : Teucrium fructicans, cerastostigmas rampants et arbustes, erigerons à mi ombre, achillées, abélias, helichrysums. Déplacement d’iris au soleil.

Des talus expérimentaux de rocailles dénommés nouveaux territoires sont en plantation au sud.

Est, sous les chênes et le grand pin

Visits: Les visiteurs sont bienvenus. Nous avons visité trois ou quatre jardins de MGF avec le plus grand plaisir et espérons des visites en échange.

We speak French, English and Spanish.

Visites en mai, juin, septembre, octobre. Merci de nous envoyer un mail ou téléphone : 06 74 41 98 38

Email: Arlette & Alain Vidart

Read more at MGF Past Activities September 2018


Joanna’s Garden near Tourrettes-sur-Loup

General Description: When we first arrived at the Prieuré we found the garden uncared for but with many interesting trees and shrubs. About twenty original olive trees survive and they give good fruit for oil every two years. There is no particular style to the garden, it has grown ‘like Topsy’ over the years and its design, if you can call it that, has been governed by its ‘planches’ or terraces.

A previous owner had planted Iris unguicularis, now growing everywhere, as do cotoneasters, pittosporums and oleanders. There were umbrella pines, a fig tree, several roses and a large Cupressus macrocarpa. The first things we planted were a Wisteria chinensis to cover a pergola in front of the house and several Eucalyptus globulus.

Since we are on alkaline soil, other plants that do well include hellebores and euphorbias, particularly rigida, with its acid yellow spring flowers. In February Japanese quinces, Chaenomeles japonica, give a warm, rosy glow and Sarcococca hookeriana faithfully fills the garden with a wonderful scent. A large Garrya elliptica with its elegant catkins gives great pleasure in late winter. Peonea suffruticosa does well and some ceanothus thrive, particularly ‘Trewithin Blue’ and ‘Concha’. Bearded irises – we have many varieties – are show-stoppers.

Agave, ceanothus, roses and euphorbia

Soil and climate: The soil is generally alkaline, over 7pH, but there are small pockets of neutral soil where acers have survived. We enrich the soil with home made compost, mulch and sheep manure called Migon..

The Mediterranean climate is supposed to have long hot summers and cool wet winters, but recently this has by no means been the case. In February 2012, snow fell and stayed for a week and frost devastated small plants and shrubs alike.

About 35 years ago we drilled down 40 metres to make a well and during the first 25 years we had plenty of water. However with encroaching building on the mountainside behind, drills have been made into our water vein and the debit is reduced. Therefore, as our water supply is now limited, we only water plants during their first and second years and the rest of the garden has to look after itself.

Plants and Projects: My gardening is haphazard; I call myself a plantswoman, rather than a gardener and I allow plants to seed themselves wherever possible. These are mainly indigenous species: hellebores, coronillas, Euphorbia rigida, acanthus and Spanish broom.

I love the grey leaved plants, santolinas, Stachys byzantina, centaureas and artemisias which contrast so well with the deep purple smoke bush Cotinus coggygria, and the acers. Other specialities are buddleias, chosen to attract butterflies, including davidii, weyeriana, crispa and lindleyiana.

Then there is the golden rain tree, Koelreuteria, catalpas, the December-flowering, sweet-smelling Chimonathus praecox and for summer scent, delicious Cestrum nocturnum. My latest joy is a long flowerbed of Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ to encourage butterflies and bees.

Roses are of great interest here – one in particular originates from La Mortola in Italy, and can be purchased from under my name, Joanna Millar. In my garden this rose romps away up a cypress tree – an astounding sight with its many thousands of yellow blossoms in March and April.

Many roses have come from England: ‘Constance Spry’, ‘Seagull’, ‘Rambling Rector’, ‘Cecile Brunner’ and ‘Bobby James’. Here when we arrived was Rosa ‘General Schablikine’, and R. banksiae ‘Lutea’. We don’t prune climbing roses, only cut out dead wood, and let them romp up cypress or olive trees. Other shrubs are trimmed but allowed as much freedom as possible to give a natural and luxuriant look to the garden.

Visits: I would be happy to receive visits from members at any time of the year. Appointments at Joanna Millar or by telephone at 04 93 24 18 77. We speak French and English.


Duncan’s garden in Caromb in the Vaucluse

Duncan wrote this description of his garden in February 2012. He was a great supporter of the concept of a Directory of Members’ Gardens and one of the first to open his garden to visits from members and friends. He was also passionate about the protection of wildlife and championed the idea of publicising those gardens which are recognised as a refuge by the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux. Duncan died unexpectedly in April 2017 but his partner and friends feel sure that he would have wanted his garden to continue to be cared for and to remain open to visitors. MGF member Frances Horne has volunteered to open the garden for visits by appointment – see contact details below.

General Description: The garden comprises approximately 600 sq m of land in the centre of a 14th century stone village surrounded by vineyards and orchards. The mas dates back to the mid 1850s and the land originally formed part of an agricultural small holding however the property was subsequently used as a restaurant. I inherited a hard-packed gravel area used as an outdoor terrace and a weed-infested grassed children’s playing area.

Soil and climate: Work on the current garden commenced in 2007. The only vegetation was three olive trees, a vine, four cypress trees, a bay and a neflier. The soil is generally workable with a roughly neutral pH – no doubt a result of the garden’s former history. Carpentras is on official record as having the greatest extremes of temperature in France recording -10ºC in March and 43ºC in summer. Despite being sheltered by stone walls, the garden also suffers the impact of the mistral blowing down the Rhône corridor. There is no well or forage (although a right to flood the property from a nearby lake exists!) so rain water is collected and stored and supplemented by automatic watering from the town supply for newly planted areas and the potager.

Plants and Projects: I have tried to select plants naturally suited to our Mediterranean climate and have included space in the design for a herb garden and four raised vegetable beds. There is also a separate pool terrace with planting in pots. Excluding the potager, all the plant names and planting dates are recorded so that I can monitor successes and failures. The garden is run on strict organic principles (apart from the occasional use of town water) and waste material is either shredded for mulch, composted or burned so no material leaves the site. A small barrel pond together with insect hotels and shelters have helped to develop the garden’s eco-system.

My main disappointment is not to have given greater early focus to disguising unattractive new walls. I also remain intolerant of poor performing specimens, which means that areas of the garden evolve fairly rapidly!

Visits: The garden is most interesting from late April to late June and again in the autumn. Please send an email to make an appointment.

Email: Frances Horne

Garden recognised as a refuge by the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux