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The Grumpy Gardener - July

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online "Lifestyle" Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, waxes lyrical as he contemplates his July garden.

For details of how to sow your own wildflower lawn - click here
Wildflower Lawn

Parsley and Wild Flowers
a Riotious Display

With all the rain we have been having I seem to have spent a lot of time recently wading through calf high grass behind an overworked mower and ducking for cover every time it showers.

One of my clients has a particularly large lawn and one portion of it is steeply sloped so cutting the grass there is a real sweat and rather risky. Some years ago after a minor injury I was unable to get on with the task when spring arrived, so I left that part to it's own devices. The result was quite startling. In no time at all the unmown lawn was covered in cow parsley and wild flowers and looked wonderful.

Nature Wins
After I had come to terms with how effortlessly nature could out-perform my ow creative abilities I took to leaving that part uncut until summer every year and the natural wild flowers have never failed to produce stunning results and with minimal maintenance other than to throw in an occasional handful of poppy seeds. Towards the beginning of summer I simply strim it all down and drop into my regular mowing routine, having saved myself considerable effort and benefited from a wonderful display of nature's best and no doubt encouraging some additional bio-diversity as well.

Effortless nature
You Could Just
Throw in a Handful of Poppy Seeds

Slug it Out
One genus of plant that is looking superb at the moment is the Hosta. These have really appreciated the regular deluges we've been having this year and are lush with beautiful foliage. As any gardener knows they are the meal of choice for slugs and snails which can if allowed to, shred them into a tattered mess overnight. However we can take precautions. I grow many of mine in pots that are easily protected from predators and can be stored in a nursery area when they start looking tatty toward the end of summer. Plants that I do put in beds I mulch very thoroughly with coir or coconut husk mulch which our slimey enemies find difficult to cross. If I have no other choice I will use slug pellets that contain iron phosphate and are less damaging to the environment than those containing mehaldehyde.

Protect From Slugs
- mulch very thoroughly with coir or coconut husk -

Hostas are hardy herbacious perenials that are shade tolerant and need a deep rich soil with plenty of moisture. Most were introduced from Japan in the mid nineteenth century but large scale breeding, particularly in America, has produced thousands of varieties nearly all of which are grown predominantly for their foliage. Those with gold leaves are more tolerant of sun but I find that almost all cultivars will accept dappled shade well. In the spring they can be easily lifted and divided with a pair of garden forks while those left in the ground will take four to eight years to mature to their full glory. To protect them over winter I simply bury them beneath a few inches of leaf mould. Just remember to guard them from those snails!!

Wildflower Lawn - how to sow your own

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 read this August 2011 article - click here
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine - Madrid
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Jihad - on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
Designer chic or neccessity? - click here for full story
To read this article - click here
Designer Chic?
Gravity - not to be ignored!
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If Winter Comes....
Hottest chilli in the world
Dogs and Daffodils... full story - click this image
The iris and Madame la Guillotine... full story - click this image
Dog Days...
Fleur de Lys
Hedge You Bets - how do YOU like your hedges... full story - click this image
To read a previous article
- click an image -
Hedge Your Bets

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
July 2012

Other Lifestyle Stories


Alambic distilling... an outlawed science?... a dying art? Full story - click here?
Alambic Still

The Last Waters of Life
Making moonshine is illegal almost everywhere. However in France, if you can find an itinerant distiller, you can still enjoy the fruits of your labour in a spirit-warming form. But for how much longer...?
Full Story - click this link


Winemaker, American expatriate Ryan O'Connell of O'Vineyards, writes about his much loved corner of France - Languedoc. Click here for the full story

A Languedoc Domaine
The story of American expatriate Ryan O'Connell and his family, who now own a Languedoc-Rousillion vineyard that is becoming hard not to notice...
Full Story - click this link

The Outsiders

Full story - click here

Domaine Jones
Expat Katie Jones is making a name for herself as a winemaker... and she is just one of a group of Languedoc vineyard owners now known as... The Outsiders
Full Story - click this link

Tree House Break

To read this article - click here
The High Life

Taking time out from his regular column, our Grumpy Gardener, takes a family break in a tree house and yes he left all the tools of the trade behind him.
Full Story - click here

A French Obsession?

Chocolate - the latest in investor chic, or just a taste obsession - click here for story

Whilst not actually invented by the French, chocolate, in all its forms, has long been a national passion... an obsession even...
Full Story - click this link

Odile de Changy Lingerie

Odile de Changy Lingerie - full story click here

A new Paris boutique lifts creamy curtains to the line of classically beautiful lingerie by Odile de Changy.
Full Story - click this link

Couture Café

Couture Cafe - full story - click here

So farewell then Cybercafé and hello Singercafé, at least that’s what they’re saying in the capital’s 10th arrondissement after France’s Vogue magazine, no less, praised the initiative of two Paris residents for bringing back the sweatshop.
Full Story - click this link

Lifestyle - Food
To see this delicious recipe from Vivienne Bolton - click here
Crispy Lettuce
... with the addition of garlic, spring onions, mushrooms, was the inspiration behind an impromptu stir-fry lunch with tagliatelli - another delicious recipe from Vivienne Bolton.
Recipe - click here

Archived Lifestyle Stories

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