The Charmed Garden

From Planning to Planting, and from Harvest to Table.

Winter Gardens in France

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french-countryside-in-winter

I have missed the last two week’s design post because my family had a little reunion in France.  My sister works outside the states more often than not. We can go many months without seeing her.  This year  she  shared her frequent flier miles with us so we could spend a week in France with her.  Yep, she rocks!! and so does my Mom who at 79 did a fab job keeping up with us through Champagne (the region in northeast France, not the bubbly) and Paris. Unfortunately Mom and I both came home with colds. So one week in France and nearly a week on the couch with tea and cold meds. Boy was it worth it though. I’d take a few nights with Nyquil for a week in beautiful France any time.

So, being the garden geek that I am, and having dirt and design running through my veins, I photographed the gardens to share with you all. The design principles are the same no matter where your garden grows.

This is a raised garden bed, which was inspired by  the medieval garden Jardin Riomet for the  medieval fort/castle  erected on that site in the town of Chateau Thierry, in the mid 1400’s.  A good part of the structure still exists and while my sisters and hubby were trekking through the remains, mum and I marveled at the garden.

The garden includes  herbs which were used for medicinal purposes before they were used to add flavor to our meals. For example, we use Sage  (Salvia Officinalis) in our Thanksgiving stuffing. However,  hundreds of years ago Sage was used by herbalists and physicians for wide ranging maladies, such as cleansing ulcers, treating lethargy, soothing sore throats (and some other rather gross bodily functions described in Culpeper’s Complete Herbal – 17th century physician).  Because of modern science we now know that Sage has antibacterial properties and drying qualities (which is why it’s good for a cough and a sore throat).  In the photos above, the larger picture has Rosemary and Lavender in it and the smaller pictures show the bed with the Sage. The winter is mild there so there is actually sage ready to harvest. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted ♥♥♥

I loved the use of space in this garden. The center of the plot is filled with the raised beds. One of the raised beds has twigs tied together for veggies on the vine, like beans. A decent sized simple wood pergola was near the front of the beds, in which annual vines could grow. Fruit trees were on the other side of the beds. Berry bushes were along a brick half wall (fencing) on one side of the garden and grape vines were on the other side. The garden was on a hill over looking the town so there was a beautiful open feel to the garden, even though two sides of the garden backed up to exterior walls of old buildings. There were two simple wood pergolas marking entry into the garden from the street.

raised-veg-garden-in-public-garden-in-france-4

In the middle of it all is a light colored circular brick fountain with brick benches on four sides. You can see it in this photo.  As a focal point, it ties the various garden structures together, giving the garden a resting place and hardscape structure.

We don’t all have spaces this big to devote to our fruits, veggies and herbs, but we can take inspiration from the literally age-old design techniques.   Instead of a fountain, you can use a bird bath, or any upright structure that  catches your eye, to tie your veggie garden to your flower garden. Use a bench in the corner of your veggie garden to transform your space from one of work to one of relaxation. Plant some annuals and perennials at each end of your bench or around your bird bath to add colors other than green to your veggie garden.  Plant Lavender, a perennial in most parts, to add silvery purple color and soft perfume of the Lavender flower. And Hey – you’d be on your way to a medicinal garden that totally chills you out (Lavender is a calming herb)lavender-in-provenceI

This week I  will post recipes using Lavender and Rosemary in something other than soup. Think sweet.

Author: Laurine M. Byrne

I received my certification as a Landscape Designer from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and I received my horticulture education through classes at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois and through the master gardener program at Univ of Illinois Extension. In my designs, I love mixing veggies and herbs with native perennials and flowering bushes as you can see from the pictures of my own yard. I love creating gardens for people who like to garden, not just installing traditional landscaping, but actually creating gardens that the homeowner connects to personally. I love that my clients who thought they couldn't grow anything now have green thumbs, because all it takes is the right plant in the right site. And I really love that my clients become my friends in the process of creating their gardens.

One thought on “Winter Gardens in France

  1. France is on my list of places to go. Great post!

    Like

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