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The Grumpy Gardener - September

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In this part of the French News Online "Lifestyle" Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, takes a break to visit other gardeners work.

Star Jasmine at the Jardin Botanico de Madrid
Star Jasmine
- Jardin Botanico de Madrid -

A Gardener's Holiday

Gardening for a living has to be a passion because the financial returns often don't match what could be gained in other trades or professions.

I knew this to be the case and went into the trade with my eyes open and so there was no fit of depression when I saw my first pay cheque. There are still moments however, when one needs to fan the flames a little to keep the passion alive and so recently I was very fortunate to pay visits to three grand inspiring gardens that have done just that.

Jardin Botanico de Madrid
The Jardin Botanico de Madrid is much more formally laid out than, say, the Domaine du Royal (see below) and provides an opportunity to see how many different types of plant perform. One of it's highlights for me was a wall of about thirty metres long and entirely covered in star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) which I could smell well before it even came into view.

Domaine du Rayol
The Domaine du Rayol features plants from many parts of the world all of which able to cope with tough Mediterranean conditions.

Domaine du Rayol, Provence
Domaine du Rayol, Provence

The landscaped gardens run right down to the sea about an hours drive west of Saint Tropez and even include guided snorkelling tours of the incorporated marine garden.

Jardin des plants, Paris
The Jardin des plants in Paris was stunning in August. Of course to make things even more pleasurable the city is largely deserted at this time of year as many of the residents have fought their way down to the coast leaving the capital with a wonderful Sunday afternoon feel throughout the month. They have a section of the garden devoted almost entirely to salvias and all clearly labelled which is both refreshing and useful to the gardener who wants to nick various planting ideas.

Jardin de Plantes, Paris
Jardin de Plantes - Paris

Visiting other gardens of this stature or even just the gardens of friends is always a great way to pick up new ideas, see plants used in different ways and learn about plants one has not come across.

What's in a Name?
Plant names are a constant problem for me as I have a shocking memory and I never did Latin at school and so where others might recognize that the word rubra might relate to red-leafed, in my case it became just another word to rote learn.

The use of Latin names has proved valuable since moving to France, as not only do common names differ here, but in many cases the Latin name is the one most widely used. You can try this for yourself by going along to your local pepiniere and asking for a bay tree. It is likely that he would he stare blankly, but if you asked for a Laurus the two of you might eventually get to laurier which is what you were looking for. I frequently start with the Latin name when discussing a plant with French clients and by fiddling around a little with the pronunciation and softening the vowels slightly I find an understanding can often be reached.

Pinus Problems
An important word of warning however. The one local plant name that shall eternally be engraved on my memory is sapin for pine tree and not the Latin Pinus. I confess I discovered this to my intense embarrassment after trying to explain to an elderly French client that my Pinus had been invaded by caterpillars.

Jardin Botanico de Madrid, official website
Domaine du Rayol, official website
Jardin des plants - Paris, official website

Previously - click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring...
click to read Grumpy's july  tips
You've got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To pop up a previous article
- click an image-
Grasp the Nettle

Grumpy Gardener
Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Article: Mike Alexander
September 2011

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