Thursday, 3 July 2008


There are two things English people think they know about French people. One: French people don't care about animals. Two: French people don't care about gardening.

Now there's only one country I know of where a waiter in a four-star restaurant would bring out an extra chair for a dog; and only one where pooches are allowed in the supermarket. And it ain't here. 

But I was nonetheless a bit surprised to find that the internet revealed a French passion for gardening that I'd never imagined existed. 

I found Côté Jardin via Victoria's blog, and I now absolutely love Marie-Pierre and her gardening style. From her I've learned that France has an Open Garden weekend at the end of May in which hundreds and hundreds of gardens participate. I've learned that in France they call new roses after famous chefs (oh okay, who else?). In particular I've learned the great lesson that French people love gardening, and hate les hosta-munching loches, just as much as we do. 

It's when Marie-Pierre writes about flowers that I enjoy myself the most because her writing is so poetic. And it's a wonderful way to do the hard work of learning all those difficult plant names over again in another language - feel free to try to explain how you could possibly resist "les coquelicots" for field poppies, "l'ancolie" for aquilegia,  or "le tournesol" for sunflower. 

There are other equally brilliant French garden bloggers. Sophie has created an online Good Gardens Guide for France, along with virtual tours of many of the gardens and tons of photos, so you can actually see before you drive halfway across the Dordogne what you are letting yourself in for. Honestly, the woman is practically saintly in my book. 

I now hear you raising an objection: but I can't understand French. Well here's the good news - you don't really have to. Because as with any blog, the photos are deeply enjoyable in themselves. Look at these rock'n'roll poppies for proof. 

That's easy for you to say, you retort. 

Well, no. The reason I know it doesn't totally matter if you just have to look at the pictures is because I've also just discovered this Japanese garden blogger, Akino. Now whilst he translates the occasional word into English, most of it is just pictures. Yet it completely doesn't matter. There's such a beautiful sense of balance and poise to his blog. And such a glimpse of gardening the other side of the world in his own little plot. 

So here's a picture of the most hilariously English front garden I've seen for a long time, snapped this afternoon in Oxford, to say "hello" to all the bloggers gardening in other languages and cultures, and that I'm excited about everything we can learn from you. 

(PS you have to click on the photo, please click on the photo. The purple in the buddleia is doing some weird zingy thing on my computer that's really amazing...)


emmat said...

PS two most important pieces of French gardening vocab I left out?

VP said...

Merci beaucoup ma chere!xx

Garden Life is sooo lovely isn't it? I think he's linked to me somewhere as I keep getting hits from the site, but I can't see from all those squares that comes up with his blog whether it really is the case :(

Arabella Sock said...

Lovely post Emma - I've just enjoyed a wander through the Japanese blog with my morning coffee.

The links to other blogs are right at the bottom of the blog and you are there VP.

Fat Rascal said...

I found this very interesting, having lived in France now for 22 years!
I don't want to say too much here though as I'm working on a piece about my gardening experiences for Arabella!
The French have grown more interested in ornamental gardening over the past few years although in rural areas they've always grown
their own.
I see on Sophie's map that my region (the Auvergne) is devoid of little black crosses and the places where there are crosses are those areas very popular with British settlers!
(and there is an "h" on Heuchère, even if it isn't pronounced! It's common name is "Désespoir du peintre" as the leaves are difficult to paint!)