In this part of the French News Online "Lifestyle" Section,
professional gardener Mike Alexander, takes us, gently, through
those tasks you should be tackling in the garden this month.
Cistus Sylvatica looks great at this time of year
This is the one month in the year when we thrifty gardeners
can't resist getting our wallets out, undoing the screws that
have held them closed for the past eleven months and going a little
This is the month of the foire aux plants and I can't
drive past one without at least having a little nose around. Before
you can say "get back in the car or I'll divorce you"
I'm elbowing other zombie-eyed gardeners aside in a desperate
attempt to spend my money quicker than they do.
As I race backward and forward between car park and plant stands,
forcing more and more plants into my vehicle, it starts to look
like the inside of the tropical house at Kew. A sort of buying
frenzy has set in and before you know it the rest of the family
are convinced I'm trying to give Emelda Marcos, let loose in Jimmy
Choos, a run for her money. The windows of the car steam up from
the inside and without an inch of space left I am forced to abandon
the dog and scrounge a lift home for the wife and child from a
neighbour whom we normally never talk to for reasons I won't go
into here. (OK before you start with the hate mail, I'm joking
about the dog).
Here's the sad part. When you finally get home, to a family which
has decided you're quite nuts, you spend hours unloading the plants
which as reality slowly hits you, you then begin to wonder why
you bought in the first place. Half of them will have lost their
labels so you can't identify them, your courtyard garden is way
too small for a giant Redwood and after unloading six different
types of chilli you remember no one in the house will eat the
Paeonies - doing well this year
This year I intend to be far more focused in my buying. Paeonies
did very well this season with no rain to damage the blooms and
I am searching for a new copper coloured one I have heard about.
I am gradually weaning my clients toward more Mediterranean plants
at the moment. I am not sure if global warming is really having
an effect in our gardens but the tougher plants of southern Europe
cope much better with the thin soil and frequent droughts around
here. Artemisia, with it's grey foliage can look very attractive
especially if used as a backdrop for some of the alliums which
can also handle dry conditions. Cistus Sylvatica looks great at
this time of year as do some of the potentillas particularly P.
Fruiticosa which will flower well into summer.
Artemisia - makes a great backdrop
Many of the gardens you will see in France are very much spring
gardens and I put this down to the fact that a lot of plant buying
is done on impulse and because the plant is in flower now and
looks attractive. Try extending your season by buying plants that
will flower later in the season. Among these are the Russian sage
Perovskia or a great shrub salvia that goes by the charming name
To help you join my spending spree take a look at this website
- in French - which shows where to find 500 foire aux plants in
2011 all linked by town and département to a map of France...
aux Plants - France