Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Garden visit 25 May 2010 to La Valette & La Garde





Our first visit of the day was to Domaine d'Orvès in La Valette. The house was built in 1695 and was in fact a farmhouse when the Pierre & Henriette Duval, the parents of the present owner "Françoise Darlington", bought it in 1925. They restored and improved it to become a more substantial property. During World War II the Nazi's occupied the house and felled all the trees, just the Plane trees near the entrance of the house were saved. In total they cut down 1200 trees. After the war the Duvals' started from scratch, planting trees and shrubs, restoring the house to it's former glory. Their daughter inherited the property in 1993 and has continued in their foot steps.

The first part of our visit was to a water lily pond.

Quite lovely.

We continued our visit to the formal part of the garden.



An arched walkway made by pleached fig trees, gave some welcome shade.

On either side of the arched walkway, masses of irises bordered the path, behind the irises, shrubs (most with grey tinted leaves) were planted to complete the border.

Françoise Darlington had some urgent matters to see to, so her daughter-in-law took over and took us on a walk up the restanques and grounds above the house.

On each level there were interesting plants to admire. I've tried to name as many as I could remember and find. To discover new varieties of plants, shrubs or trees makes these garden visits so enjoyable:

Abutilon megapotanicum (You might remember it from Nathalie Rigg's garden).
Acacia alata
Acacia karroo - a Mimosa with very sharp long thorns.

Acanthus mollis.
Acanthus spinosa.
Actinidia 'deliciosa' - Kiwi fruit.

Anchusa azurea - bright blue flowers growing near to the "La Mortola" rose.
Arbutus glandulosa - the interesting part of this tree is its bark, cinnemon coloured, peeling in the summer to a pistachio green colour.

Arbutus menziesii - similar to the A. glandulosa except that the bark does not turn green.
Arundo Donax - Giant Reed.
Buddleja officinalis - A winter flowering/early spring flowering Buddleja.
Bulbinella hookeri - Lovely orange/yellow flowering bulb.
Callistemon citrinus - Bottlebrush.
Callistemon "Mauve Mist"- pink flowering Bottlebrush.
Cerotostigma - It was not yet in flower, but planted on the formal area of the garden, mixed with poppies and other wild flowers.
Cistus x purpureus.
Convolvulus mauritanicum.
Cyperus papyrus - Papyrus.
Duranta repens - Golden dewdrop/Sky flower, with pendant blue flowers, yellow berries follow.
Echium candicans - family of Echium vulgare (Viper's Bugloss) but much taller and fuller.
Eleagnus angustifolia 'Quicksilver'.
Equisetum arvensis (Horsetail) - awful weed to get rid off, once you have it in your garden but quite a useful herb, a poultice can be applied externally to aid the healing of wounds, sores and ulcers; the tisane is effective as a mouthwash in aphthous ulcers or gingivitis, and can be used as a douche in leucorrhoea or menorrhagia. It was growing at the edge of the pond.
Erigeron karvinskianus 'Profusion', whole beds on the restanque was filled with the small daisy like flowers.
Eriobotrya japonica - Loquat.
Eucalyptus citriodora - essential oil is made out of the leaves. A curious thing is when you touch the trunk of the tree it is cold to the touch.
Grevillea robusta - Silky Oak, upright/conical tree with yellow/orange Bottlebrush like flowers.
Helleboris argutifolius/corsicus - Corsican Hellebore.

Hylocereus undatus - fast growing, epiphytic or climbing cactus - Hanna
Hymenosporum flavum - Australian frangipani tree, very fragrant yellow flowers, related to the Pittosporum.

Iris pseudacorus - Yellow Iris on edge of the pond.
Iris "Shelford Giant" - Very tall white Iris growing along the path not far from Rosa "La Mortola".
Lychnis coronaria - Rose Campion.
Magnolia delavayi - an evergreen Magnolia, flowering in the summer.
Melaleuca densa - related to the Bottlebrush
Melia azedarach (Indian Bead Tree) - very large specimen in flower.

Meliathus major.

Pelargonium - many different varieties, growing in the dappled shade.
Ptilostemon gnaphaloides.

Rosa La Mortola - fantastic single white climbing rose, growing over one of the buildings.



Salvia mellifera.
Sollya heterophylla - Bluebell creeper, lovely small blue bell flowers, near the swimming pool.

Tetrapanax papyriferus - Rice Paper Plant.

Zantedeschia aethiopica "Green Goddess", looks like an Arum.


After our visit we had our usual picnic lunch just in front of the house on the terrace shaded by the plane trees. The setting was lovely.



The afternoon visit was to the Succulent Garden of Mr. & Mrs. Navarro in La Garde. This garden is so amazing, I can recommend anyone reading this article to visit it.

The Navarro's started the garden in 1971 and since then they've built up collections of Aeonium, Agave, Aloe, other Succulents and Cacti, too many to mention in this blog. They have 5 greenhouses were the more tropical Cacti and Succulents are stored, the winter they store 1800 pots in the various greenhouses, during the summer these pots are outside.

This garden is a living museum for Cacti & Succulents. In the summer they start watering at 05.00 hrs to finish watering at 10.00 hrs. They're both devoted to their plants and it shows.

Beside the Cacti & Succulents they've introduced several interesting shrubs and trees into the garden.

The amount of plants in the garden is so immense that it is impossible to mention them all:

Aloe Vera - with the yellow spike and Aloe ferox - with the orange spike.


Dichondra - Dichondra seed alternative lawn, seed available from seedland.com - Hanna









Ferula communis - Giant Fennel.

Hoodia juttea - flowers have a very unpleasant smell.

Lagunaria pattersonii - Cow Itch Tree.
Lonicera x brownii "Dropmne Scarlet" - Red Honeysuckle

Otata acuminata artecorum - Mexican Weeping Bamboo.

Phytolacca dioica - Their tree is not so large yet!

Podophyllum 'Kaleidoscope'.


Senna artemisioides.

Teucrium subspinosum.

Thespesia peruvia - yellow Hisbiscus like flowers.

We finished the visit with a very welcoming cold drink on their terrace.



Bibliography: RHS A-Z Book, Elisabeth Boutevin: Photographs

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dipladenia or Mandavilla


At this time of the year you'll find Dipladenia's on display in every market or garden centre. They are so flamboyant with shades ranging from white, pink to bright red. In its natural habitat in Central and South America you can even find yellow. There are more than 100 species. The Mandavilla/Dipladenia that has become so very popular lately is Dipladenia sanderii, originating in the highland above Rio de Janeiro. It is a climber, with lovely deep green glossy foliage, and from spring to autumn produces flowers continuously.

The first time I came across this plant was in Ireland. Some parts of Ireland are lucky enough to have a very mild climate. Visiting a garden there, I had my first sight of a white Mandavilla growing up a wall. Then, their official name was "Mandavilla". I saw them again being sold in florists in southern France, about 6 years ago. They were either white or pink in colour.
A few years ago another species was introduced, Dipladenia sanderii, it was just slightly different from the Mandavilla I had seen in Ireland. Their popularity increased with more shades becoming available each year. Their popular name changed from "Mandavilla" to "Dipladenia".

For us living in southern France it is good to know that their fleshy roots store water and the climber will survive a period without being watered, like being away on a two week holiday. It is frost tender, but in a frost free place it will survive from one year to the next.

After the winter, the branches need to cut back to 12 cm in length. It needs to be repotted in soil consisting of 2/3 garden compost and 1/3 sand. Make sure the base of the plant is well covered with soil.

Place the plant pot in a sunny position, but not a sun trap. Water regularly with soft water and feed the plant every 15 days. Remove the old flowers to encourage new flower buds to form.

Bibliography: Rustica and RHS A-Z Encyclopedia

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

La Pentecôte à l'abbaye de Valsaintes

A l’abbaye de Valsaintes, il est des instants uniques de plénitude et de grâce… le spectacle de la pleine floraison des roses est de ceux qui ne s’oublient pas !
Délicatesse des parfums, flamboyance des couleurs, richesse des émotions : la rose, reine éphémère du jardin de l’abbaye de Valsaintes, s’abandonne à nos regards émerveillés. Elle se livre sans compter, et tant d’amour reçu laisse dans nos cœurs éblouis un souvenir impérissable.

La pleine floraison s’étend environ de la mi-mai à la fin juin. N'hésitez pas à nous téléphoner pour connaître la situation florale du moment.

22-23-24 mai 2010

Samedi 22 mai :

11h30 conférence : "naissance d'une rose" : démonstration d'hybridation d'une rose
14h30 : démonstration bouturage et greffage et conférence sur l'entretien du rosier par Jean-Yves Meignen

Dimanche 23 mai :

De 10 à 12h30 : émission en direct de l'abbaye avec Radio France bleu Vaucluse. Avec la participation de Christian Etienne le grand Chef de cuisine d'Avignon http://www.christian-etienne.fr/
14h30 : Présence exceptionelle de François DORIEUX, célèbre créateur de roses, pour une démonstration d'hybridation de roses.
15h30 : démonstration bouturage et greffage et conférence sur l'entretien du rosier par Jean-Yves Meignen

Lundi 24 mai :

11h30 conférence : "naissance d'une rose" : démonstration d'hybridation d'une rose
14h30 : démonstration bouturage et greffage et conférence sur l'entretien du rosier par Jean-Yves Meignen

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

La couleur au jardin


La nature végétale se répartit en deux groupes de couleur : la gamme jaune et la gamme bleue.
Une plante de la gamme jaune doit être placée devant une plante de la gamme bleue, cela procure une impression de profondeur. En cela on rejoint l’art de la peinture et particulièrement les paysagistes italiens. Le « sfumato » fond bleuté et brumeux met en valeur les personnages rouge et or situés au premier plan.

Chaque couleur de chaque gamme se décline du plus froid au plus chaud :
pour le jaune cela commence avec des jaunes très pâles au ton glacial, des jaunes de plus en plus riches, tirant vers l’orange puis des rouges orangés, des pourpres et des noirs bruns.
pour le bleu, des gris bleu puis des bleu roi, des violets et des noirs profonds.

Au sein de chaque gamme pour procurer un sentiment d’espace l‘ordre du plus froid au plus chaud doit être respecté.

Le bleu
atténue l'effet d'éblouissement provoqué par une lumière trop intense, il élargit aussi le champ visuel, si le bleu dans les lointains augmente la sensation d'espace il permet aussi de voir plus loin et plus net.
Le bleu
placé à côté de couleurs trop voyantes permet d'atténuer la violence des contrastes et de distinguer mieux les nuances.

Le rouge
il semble que l'homme et la femme perçoivent différemment la couleur rouge car elle est associée au danger, la femme la détecte plus vite même si elle est située au loin, l'homme est plus lent à prendre conscience de cette couleur, elle doit être placée près de lui....

Les gammes jaune et bleu se déclinent elles-mêmes en donnant des Rouge/Jaune = Orange,
des Rouge/Bleu = Violet.

Les couleurs complémentaires : orange, violet
ces couleurs subliment la couleur primaire
les bleus paraissent plus bleus associés à la couleur orangée,
les jaunes plus jaunes en les rapprochant du violet.
source : L'optique des jardins. Robert Mallet



Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Garden Group visit to Claviers and Figanières



The first garden we visited this morning was the garden of Mr. Pierre Cuche in Claviers. The weather was absolutely atrocious – it was pelting down with rain – by the end of the visit we were all soaked through, but it was worth getting wet for.

Mr Cuche’s garden contains many unusual trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, grown from seeds or cuttings from all parts of the world. A true collection built up over 30 years.

When he bought the property in 1969, he started off restoring the olive trees. The olive trees were between 150 to 350 years old. The property, in total 3.5 ha. had been abandonned for 30 years, when he bought it, it was a wilderness. They were lucky that the olive trees had not been frozen in 1956 like so many other olive trees in the south of France due to the fact that the olive trees were facing east, in fact the first sun rays in the winter reach the property from the south, they are quite protected from the northern winds.

It took them 20 years to get the property back in shape. From 1969, till they lived permanently in Claviers in 1988, they would travel back and forwards from Arles to water their plants. Only the strongest survived.

He finds that with the soil consisting of clay and chalk, trees, shrubs and roses do best. In total he has more than 4000 different plant species in his garden.

His advice is :

Use a slow release fertiliser, with NPK, Magnesium and Oligo elements (trace elements). Never give fertiliser to plants in autumn.
When planting put a handful of bonemeal in the planthole.

Some of the plants we came across in Claviers:

Abelia; he has a collection of Abelias, the shrubs are very suited to the soil in the region, two particular nice ones are: Abelia uniflora (evergreen), Abelia triflora (decidious, flowers have a lovely perfume).
Abies glauca

Abies glauca, with incredibly soft catkins (flowers)



Arbutus glandulosa; the tree has a special, smooth, soft to the touch trunk, native of Australia.


Arbutus glandulosa

Ceanothus; many varieties, among them, Ceanothus burkwoodii flowers several times, Ceanothus 'Concha' has lovely deep blue flowers, Ceanothus gloriosus 'Emily Brown'.
Corokia x virgata; a cross between C. cotoneaster and C. buddlejoides, lovely star shaped yellow flowers in spring, followed by orange fruit, native of New Zealand.
Correa (Australian fuchsia), Correa alba; white variety, Correa 'Pinkie'; pink variety, both flower in winter
Cotoneaster microphyllus; a small leaved creeping Cotoneaster that Mr. Cuche used to cover a tumbled down wall.
Dodonia viscosa purpurea (Hop bush); evergreen, carries paper like flowers, native of Australia.

Dodonia viscosa purpurea

Eleagnus 'Quicksilver'; silver leaves, yellow flowers produced from silvery buds.
Euphorbia stygiana, evergreen, in winter the lower leaves turn red, native of Azores.
Garrya elliptica (Silk-tassel bush); evergreen shrub with grey-green catkins from mid winter to early spring.
Helleborus (Hellebore); ideally suited to our type of soil.
Olearia (Daisy bush); native to Australia.
Pancratium illyricum; bulbous perennial, bears umbels of white flowers.
Parrotia persica; large tree, lovely autumn colours, well suited to local soil.
Pinus wallichiana (Himalayan pine)

Pinus wallichiana as with all his plants raised from seeds

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Irene Paterson'.
Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Marjorie Channon'? with black flowers.

Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Marjorie Channon'

Pseudo cydonia sinensis (Chinese quince).
Rhamnus alaternus 'Argenteovariegata', small leaved variegated, almost white Buckthorn).
Scilla peruviana, large bulb, conical shape of blue flowers.

Scilla peruviana

Zoyzea (a type of grass); has to be planted individually, needs no watering, nor cutting.

After having a cosy, tasty lunch at Rosemary Halford, we were once again dry and keen to visit our next planned garden.




Le Chemin de Ronde in Figanières. Unfortunately the rain never let up, but just like the morning visit, I would not have liked to have missed it. Both are worth another visit in better weather conditions.

Mr. Weiss, the owner of "Le Chemin Ronde", started planting his garden 17 years ago. In total it is 900 m2, packed with plants. A path circles the garden all the way round. It starts of with a shaded area, and everywhere along the path are interesting spots, special ways of planting, seating arrangements, pots filled often with plants, and garden elements. A sheer delight. I was very impressed with the rambling roses, reaching easily 6 metres and more, climbing through the trees, and over the roofs. Unfortunately because of the recent weather many of the roses where still in bud. All the ramblers in the garden are spring flowering varieties.

His advise:

When you want to plant ramblers to grow through trees you need to plant the tree and rambler at the same time. The tree should be a tree that is late in getting its leaves for the rambler to get enough light to flower.

When planting an arrangement of shrubs/trees, large leaved shrubs should be in the front with smaller leaved shrubs or trees at the back.

He does not cut back his roses much, he reckons that he gets more roses this way, although they may be smaller.

Some of the trees, shrubs, climbers, herbaceous plants in Le Chemin de Ronde:
Acca sellowiana (Pineapple guava)
Beschorneria yuccoides


Cedrus atlantica pendula

Cedrus atlantica pendula in front, behind Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki'


Cercis silliquastrum f. albidus (White flowering Judas Tree).
Chionanthus virginicus (Fringe Tree), fragrant white flowers in pendant penicles.
Crateagus laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet'.
Erisymum 'Bowles' Mauve' (Purple Wallflower).
Equisitum hyemal (Scoringrush Horsetail), green segmented stalks growing in the pond.
Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride'.
Juncus, a variegated Rush, grew in a tub of water.
Melia azedarach (Indian Bead Tree), the hard seeds are used to make beads and rosaries explaining its name.
Nandina domestica.
Photinia heterophylla, when left unpruned, it becomes a very large shrub with masses of white flowers at this time of the year.
Prunus lusitanica (Portugese laurel).
Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki', variegated pink/green/white leaved willow tree.
Sambucus nigra 'Guincho Purple', purple/black leaved Elder.
Sophora japonica (Japanese Pagoda Tree)
Spiraea 'Double Bridal Wreath".
Tanacetum crispum.
Vitis coignetiae, very large leaved vine.
Vitis henryana (Parthenocissus henryana)
Vitis minitolii, very small leaved creeping vine, probably not the correct spelling?

Several of the roses, could be found in both gardens:

Rosa banksiae 'Alba Plena', double white, spring flowering, rambler.
Rosa banksiae 'Lutea', double yellow, spring flowering, rambler
Rosa banksiae 'Lutescens', simple yellow flowering rose, spring flowering, rambler.

Rosa banksiae 'Lutescens'

Rosa Cecile Brunner, China Rose, colour soft pink, flowers summer and autumn.
Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', changes colours from light yellow to copper pink then to deep pink, flowers spring and autumn.
Rosa chinenses 'Sanguinea', colour red/purple, flowers spring and autumn.
Rosa sempervirens 'Princesse Marie', pink to lilac cupped flowers, rambler.




Rosa sempervirens 'Princesse Marie'


Rosa 'Senateur Lafollette', beautiful smell, flesh pink, will grow up to 16m long, spring flowering.
Rosa xanthina f. hugonis, cupped single, lightly scented pale yellow flowers, with orange leaves in autumn.

Rosa xanthina f. hugonis

Photographs: Elisabeth Boutevin, Bibliography: RHS A-Z Encyclopedia


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