One of the joys of living in France is all the space. When we bought our house in the Languedoc-Roussillon eight years ago, we were determined to make our outside space both pretty and manageable. We knew this would allow us to take full advantage of the wonderful Mediterranean climate, and from May to October a good deal of our time would be spent outside. With this in mind we created a small corner in our garden for sunbathing and relaxing beneath our ivy clad wall, which is both lovely to look at and easy to maintain.
Plants, flowers and vegetables grow quickly here. At the moment, the vines are growing so fast it seems like they’ve shot up a bit more each day. French gardens tend to focus less on grass and lawns than the UK, which may be a good thing when you think about the maintenance involved in tending to a lawn. The trick to making your French garden work for you is to divide your space into part patio, paving or deck, a small amount of grass, an area for growing vegetables and herbs and plenty of pots of all sizes containing colourful flowers scattered all around.
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It’s a joy to see orange, lemon, fig and other fruit trees growing so easily here. We bought two olive trees a couple of years ago and can confirm they pretty much look after themselves. As for our palm tree, it has grown substantially, and again needs little maintenance.
It’s a joy to see orange, lemon, fig and other fruit trees growing so easily here.
An interesting quirk of gardening in France is the locals insistence on consulting the waxing and waning phases of the moon using the Farmers’s Almanac, which is available on line and can be found in many garden centres.
Many French folk have their own allotment, but you don’t need one if you want to grow your own fruit and vegetables. Winter vegetables like Brussels, leeks, cabbage, kale, parsnips, lambs lettuce, chard, oriental greens can be grown in most areas; as can fruits like strawberries, currants, gooseberries, tayberries, raspberries and worcesterberries – some of these can be grown year-round in the warmer southern regions. While planting a variety of herbs will create a wonderful fragrance as evening draws on and will also attract butterflies.
Don’t be afraid to practice your French and ask for advice on what to plant when visiting your local garden centre.
Don’t be afraid to practice your French and ask for advice on what to plant when visiting your local garden centre. People tend to be very proud of their garden growing capabilities in France, so have a chat with your neighbours too over the garden fence.
If you really want inspiration for the ideal French garden visit to one of the many public gardens. There are some truly beautiful gardens throughout the country, often attached to chateaux or stately homes with a huge variety of plants, shrubs, flowers and styles.
If you are ready to buy in France in the next three months, let me introduce you to Yasmin who leads our friendly France Resource Team. Call her on 020 7898 0549 or email [email protected]. We can put you in touch with a trusted estate agent, French lawyer and currency specialist.