Is yours an English garden or French?

When we lived in England we gardened. We didn’t think about labelling our garden but planted the plants we liked and what we knew would work.

When we arrived in France we had no garden but a field that had been grazed by cows for years. Our neighbouring farmer fenced off where our boundary is so that his cows could no longer eat our grass. It then took us two years to garden a little bit of our land, starting with vegetables. I wasn’t very good at vegetables, only realising too late that I had mistaken many of the seedlings for weeds and yanked them out! At that time we sowed direct into the ground as we had no polytunnel and the house was a mess.

Once our garden started to take shape and we set up our nursery ( we started to have visitors here at the farm. I say farm because that is what our french friends and neighbours and the MSA class us as, but to us it is a garden.

We participated in Ferme en Ferme ( which takes place nationally in France and is the last weekend of April each year. This organisation encourages farms to open their doors to the public and show them how they go about their business. It includes how farms work, the systems in place, the economy and impact on the environment. This was a great challenge for us as our french was not sufficient to talk freely but we managed with a lot of help from the organisation and friends. These weekends were very successful on different levels. We had hundreds of people come round and talk to us, all of them french and so it was great for learning more of the french lingo. It was great for sales too with many of those people becoming regular clients and friends. It helped us showcase what was then a new enterprise.

The main question that our french friends ask is “how do we make an English garden”. It baffles me somewhat as most of the plants we grow are native to the United States and the Mediterranean. Do they mean the way the plants are planted, the amount of flowers and plants we have, the varieties of plants that we grow or the layout of the garden?

My observations of gardens in our area of France are that the French love their potager, dahlias, hydrangea and, of course, the colourful geraniums. Grasses such as pampas are also very prominent. Well we now have a potager, more successful I might add than our first all those years ago and some grasses - does that now make us a “frrench garden”?

We are passionate about our gardens like most other garden lovers and be it “french” or “english” we love them for what they are and how they constantly develope and mature. We hope you also enjoy our gardens and watch them grow!

I’m always hunting for free flower seeds so when I pass a public garde with flowers that are going to seed, I do a “public cleanup” of the gardens and rescue those future flowers from being detined for the compost pile. I’m sure the local Mayor will not mind to have my “harvesting” efforts improve the freshness of his gardens. The only problem is one never knows if these flowers are hybreds and sterile or will actually bloom the next Spring. I also rescue mums thown in the bins when the flowers are dead but the roots are still alive and if planted, pruned to cut off the dead stems and then covered over with compost, they may survive and bloom the next year. I have added to the variety of my mums that way.

@Jayne. The same old villager, when told we only had one child, commented that “it was hardly worth the effort, was it.” Which amused us a great deal.

That sounds like a good plan James :slight_smile:

I would have to say my gardens are neither English or French. I just like masses of color so I plant Marigold among the Chrysanthemums and the mums alongside the Hortensia to form a mass of color. I like flowers that bloom a long time or like the Marigold, new blooms come continuously so that it appears to bloom a long time. I also plant to have something blooming in the Spring (tulips), Summer (Hortensia, Marigold, Begonia, etc.) and the Autumn (mums).

@Teresa - you’re very welcome and enjoy!
@Terry - I can vouch for the flowers not making money. It’s certainly like that on the markets - they all want veggies to plant and barely glance at the plants and flowers (unless they’re edible of course!) We stick to Plant Fetes now - we assume the people who go to them like plants of all varieties!! Your story about the waterfalls is lovely too :slight_smile:

At least one of our local villagers couldn’t understand why we had a small vegetable garden and a large one full of flowers. “Flowers don’t make money,” he said. His wife said she tried planting flowers when they were first married but he pulled them all up. It’s interesting that when our French neighbours talk about their “jardin” they’re talking about the vegetable plot, which caused some confusion when we first arrived. I think the one thing in our garden that caused the biggest stir was the “water feature”, three pools cascading into each other. Our neighbours had never seen such a thing and were puzzled to know where the water was coming from. “Have you found a spring?” we were asked and are still asked. Some still don’t understand that there is a pump in the lowest pool recycling the water to the top pool and thence by gravity back to the bottom pool. So I guess they look on it as an English garden even though my wife is not only French but was brought up not far from where we live. In fact the kind of garden we have is dictated by what will grow in the difficult conditions of our rocky hillside. Probably true of most gardens.

Jayne - what a great post - thanks… particularly the info about farm open days… we’re moving to the Tarn 81 in April and it’ll be a great way to meet local farmers and growers, buy local produce and see a bit of the area. Kind of like a Yellow Book for farms… i’ve planned my weekend

Up Stix To France

That’s gorgeous - will it be in flower again soon? Our Montana is pink and budding up already :slight_smile:

I will try and send a pic of my montana taken last year

I know Jane - they have strange ideas and very regimental in many ways! They seem to love “english gardens” though, lucky for us :slight_smile:
ps I’d love to see some pics of your clematis - I love them!

All my friends say my garden looks english…I don’t know realy what that means as it certainly doesn’t look like anything like in gardeners world.I do have about 25 clematis and I love them to climb all over the place which of course the french aren’t mad about.They tend to grow every thing in lines like little soldiers.And the flowerbeds in my town are very geometrical and they even put in the southafrican flag last year bag in the middle of a round about .it looked very takkie