October / octobre 2015
Visit to Pépinière Ezavin – Le Monde des Fougères
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Hidden in the leafy garden suburbs between Cannes, Grasse and Vence at Roquefort-les-Pins is a mecca for people with pteridomania (an expression coined by Charles Kingsley in 1855 to describe the prevalent passion for ferns).
Here, over the last twenty years, Olivier Ezavin and Pascale Arnould have created a plant nursery and collection of over 500 ferns and shade-loving plants and recently invited us to pay them a visit.
Knowing that MGF members are particularly interested in dry gardening, Olivier reminded us of the virtues of ferns – they are mostly frost hardy and pest free and many are drought–resistant. Polypodium cambricum, for example, rests in the summer heat, losing most of its leaves which re-grow in the autumn rains.
Other good ferns for dry shade include Dryopteris sieboldii and Cyrtomium falcatum. Olivier debunked the myth that ferns prefer acid soil, pointing out that all the water used in their nursery is full of calcium and certainly not acid. “But,” he added, “ferns do like a little humus or compost added to the soil at planting time”.
Other good plants for dry shade include Iris japonica and Iris confusa, both of which spread well. Iris japonica needs half-shade but Olivier told us that too much shade could inhibit flowering. Iris confusa requires some water but rewards this with lovely blue or white flowers.Plants stocked by the nursery and recommended for dry shade
include aspidistra, (we admired some lovely varieties with spots and stripes) various acanthus species, hedera, hellebores, Solanum amygdalifolium, Ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s’ broom), a number of varieties of Liriope muscari, and Dianella caerulea with its bright blue flowers.
Many, many more plants are listed on their web site. On logging onto the site, go to ‘La Nouvelle E-pépinière’ then down the list to ‘Plantes pour zones sèches’. In addition to keeping the plant nursery in such superb condition, Pascale is presently working on a collection of unusual begonias.
Olivier’s current project is the selection and supply of plants for vertical gardens (murs végétals), created in collaboration with the botanist, Patrick Blanc. The nursery sends plants for green walls to the UK, and even to Bahrain and Kuwait!
Text: June Grindley
Photographs: June Grindley and from the Pépinière Ezavin website