Mediterranean Gardening France

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Graham and Julia Petty’s garden, near Uzès

General Description: The terrain comprises 3000 sq m of sloping land, part of an old olive grove. The house was built in 1982 when the hard surfaces and rockeries were created, and the major planting of trees, including umbrella pine, sophora, lime, conifers, arbutus and vitex. The white oak and almond are indigenous. In the mid 90s the house became a holiday home. The garden was neglected and all the soft planting had been lost before we bought it in 2004. We are gradually restoring and developing the garden.

Agave, ceanothus, roses and euphorbia

Soil and climate: The soil is very variable. In places it is a shallow covering above solid rock, in others it is deep and sandy, or dense rubble of stones and rocks. Sometimes a planting hole takes half an hour to make, using a heavy-duty fork and a hammer and chisel. We do not have a well or forage, and temporary watering systems from town water are used to establish new plants for their first 2 or 3 years. After that they must survive on their own. The house and garden are reasonably well protected from the mistral, but we have experienced intense winter cold in recent years.

Plants and Projects: Our philosophy now is to focus on plants of the region that like our very dry conditions, such as phlomis, cistus, and sage, and other plants that are well adapted to our soil and climate. We try to limit ourselves to plants with Filippi’s “code de sécheresse” of at least 4. We say “now”, because we have learned the hard way, e.g. losing about 50 new plants in our first canicule, when the roots were too small to cope with the extreme heat. A surprising success is the hostas. We brought just a few from UK as they were Graham’s favourites and they have flourished in large, well-watered pots in the shade of oak and olive.

We plant only in the autumn. So progress is slow, and much of the garden is still work in progress. We are starting to plant under large pine trees, and amongst olive trees, that we are pruning in order to create a more intimate feel in the front of the house. We still have too much hard surface area.

The land at the rear is still an area of old olive trees mixed with oak and pine trees that in 20 years have taken over. We are starting to clean and open this up, and will be reintroducing garrigue plants lost because of the planting of pine trees.

The garden produces an enormous amount of oak leaves and pine needles each year. We produce excellent leaf mould from oak leaves every year. The pine needles are a pest as they make the place look so untidy.

Visits: We would welcome garden visitors at any time of the year, but would recommend spring, early summer or autumn. Please contact us by email to make an appointment.
Julia parle français à un niveau moyen.

Email: Graham & Julia Petty