French Gardens

The Potting Shed at Lydie’s

I’m excited to announce that in addition to our shop in Banyette Street, Bowral, we now have a beautiful new plant gallery at Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment in Braemar   –   “The Potting Shed at Lydie’s”.  It’s early days, and more stock is arriving daily, but if you call in to Lydie’s super glamorous shop this weekend you will find us in The Walled Garden which is now filled with potted foxgloves and delphiniums, lavenders, geraniums and advanced topiary in buxus, bay, citrus and olive.  Inside in the conservatory we’re showcasing big ‘glamour’ plants including massive crassulas, cycads, cyclamens,  Pieris and spectacular orchids – all perfect to beautify your home and garden.  Follow us on Instagram for lots of images, ideas and updates.  Hope to see you soon at The Potting Shed – now at Dirty Jane’s Antique Market in Bowral and Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment in Braemar. (address below).

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The Potting Shed at Lydie’s

Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment

117 Old Hume Highway
Braemar NSW Australia
Open 10am-5pm (EST) Every day.

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Meet my new neighbour

Good morning from The Potting Shed.

It was a gorgeous day at work yesterday … after drenching rains, sunshine at last! The lovely autumn light bounced softly off the usually severe urban surfaces that surround us and sauntered elegantly into the new shop next door … the studio of the super clever Suzie Anderson. So I couldn’t resist catching a few photos to share with you. IMG_9891 IMG_9889 IMG_9884 IMG_9880 IMG_9876 IMG_9874 IMG_9871 IMG_9868 IMG_9866 IMG_9864 IMG_9862 IMG_9861 IMG_9859

 

I could just move right into this beautiful space and snuggle up on one of the linen covered,  down filled sofas and read gardening books for the rest of the year! Infused with love and style,  every nook and cranny has Suzie’s expert signature stamped all over it.  Antique chandeliers, lamps, urns and curiosities from France, Belgium, Sweden, America and other places afar,  blend with contemporary homewares, jewellery and art. And floating above and in and around each lovely, carefully selected piece, the aroma of expensive candles and gentle notes of exotic music add that other intangible quality … that sense of immersion, of being transported into another world. Do yourself a favour, come in and experience this special space for yourself.

Ornamental Kale will add glamour to your winter garden

 On a trip to France a few years ago, we visited the remarkable Villandry gardens in the Loire Valley.  What stood out for me, amongst the many other wonders in this, the world’s largest jardin potager, was the spectacular ornamental kale.  Row upon manicured row of this beautiful vegetable, curated into an art form amongst a sea of other vegetables elevated from the vege patch to the catwalk!  So I have ordered lots of it for The Potting Shed – knowing that whatever doesn’t sell will go straight into the garden at home.   One fellow enthusiast came in today and snaffled a tray full, so if you’d like some seedlings to add panache to your garden this winter, be quick.  I have a feeling they won’t last long!  I’m also looking for ornamental cabbage which I saw in many villages in France in Autumn (see picture at bottom)  which is another lovely accent plant for the cooler months. I’ll let you know when I have it in stock. IMG_4719 IMG_4723 IMG_4718

Culture Ornamental Kale is easily grown in organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained loams in full sun. It’s a  frost hardy plant that needs cool temperatures to produce best leaf colors. Here in the Highlands they are best grown in the cool temperatures of autumn, but may also be grown in early spring. If grown in summer (and they will), plants will need some afternoon shade to survive, but the foliage will not be as spectacular.  Plants also look fantastic grown in containers as is often seen in France.

Noteworthy Characteristics   Brassica oleracea (Capitata Group), commonly known as cabbage, and Brassica oleracea(Acephala Group), commonly known as kale, are cool weather vegetables that are grown for harvest of their edible leaves. Cabbage forms heads and kale forms upright leaves. By contrast, ornamental cabbages and kales are grown primarily as foliage plants for their intensely coloured leaves rather than as vegetables. Ornamental plants were developed for ornamental use without regard to taste. Ornamental cabbage typically develops large rosettes of broad flat leaves and ornamental kale typically develops curly, ruffled leaves in a tight rosette. Leaf colors are usually quite showy, including white/cream, pink, rose, red and purple. Plants will grow to 12-18” tall and need the cool weather of spring or autumn to develop their best foliage color. As night temperatures drop during the autumn, the leaf color typically darkens and intensifies. Cabbage and kale are in the same species as a number of other cool season vegetables including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi.

Garden Uses  Mass plantings. Border fronts. Edging. Containers. The colorful leaves make an attractive food garnish and if you pleach their trunks, they make great cut flowers_MG_7612IMG_4373.

Marqueyssac in the Dordogne

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Marqueyssac_3Inspired by the lovely gardens of the late Nicole de Vesian in Provence, I am working on developing a clipped garden to the north of our kitchen, so the view from our balcony will always be green and orderly.  Not that I’m really the orderly type – but over the past few years I have found the profusion of roses, foxgloves and delphiniums I had planted in long and deep perennial beds, slightly overwhelming and busy.  And  when the gorgeous, blowsy spring show is over and the harsh light of the Australian summer burns out the colour,  the effect looks raggedy very quickly.   And by Christmas it is tired and hot and exhausted.

So bit by bit I’m removing all the flowering perennials from the section closest to the house and replacing them with clipped box, cistus, bay, Viburnum Tinus and  miniature abelia.  It requires a lot of patience as the plants need to be spaced far enough apart for future growth and so there’s a lot of mulch still on view!  But one day, I am dreaming of a view such as this seen at  the Château de Marqueyssac. 

The Gardens Of Marqueyssac

Comfortably nestled into the hills of Perigord are the Gardens Of Marqueyssac. The gardens were planted in 1861 by Julien De Cerval – a maniacal gardener who gave the last thirty years of his life to build Marqueyssac. Boxwoods were chosen as a key plant of the garden because of their fullness, robust texture, and radiant green color. Every path in the garden was put there with an acute intent, what seems accidental and whimsical, was in fact carefully thought out.  De Cerval wanted to create a romantic experience for the garden’s visitors where they would get lost within the paths and enjoy the organic shapes of the plants. In recent years the gardens and nearby castles went under a full renovation to restore De Cervals early dream of the garden and bring people from all over the world to witness it.

 

 

 

Inspired by Monet’s Garden

Today I’m making plans for a little waterfall into our new duck pond.  This will aerate the water and provide a pleasant watery sound in the garden.  The plan is that it will emerge mysteriously from a densely planted shrubbery and meander down a pebble lined creek bed, under a little bridge and into the pond where the ducks like to play.  I need to be sure about the right plants for such a feature so that it will look appealing but natural and not too contrived.  Of course there is no lovelier water feature than the one in the images below – the spectacular water lily ponds at Monet’s Garden near Giverny in France.

I visited Monet’s Garden with my brother Peter back in 1988 when it had not long been opened to the public after a major restoration by an American philanthropist.  What an experience … standing in Monet’s very bedroom  looking out over the gardens that inspired so much of his work.  He made the gardens especially to provide subject material without ever having to leave home!  Planting over the years on a massive scale to create swathes of light and shadow, blocks of colour and magical water features to challenge his ability to paint reflected light.  If you’ve never been, go! About one hour from Paris by train – stop at Giverny and take a short 3 mile taxi ride to the gardens.  No picnicking allowed, so be sure to eat something first … and take your best camera.  There are many books about this wonderful garden, and ‘The Magic of Monet’s Garden’ is my favourite.

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The Magic of Monet's Garden

Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926) created a magnificent five-acre garden that he considered to be his greatest artistic achievement. It was restored in 1980 and is now the most visited garden of its size in the Western world. With its spectacular color combinations and distinctive structural elements, the Monet garden at Giverny, France, inspires the dreams of thousands of gardeners.

Award-winning garden writer and photographer Derek Fell has visited Giverny many times and always admired the beauty of its plantings and the subtle balance of colors. After years of carefully studying Monet’s design and plantings, he shares the artist’s secrets. In The Magic of Monet’s Garden, Fell reveals Monet’s breathtaking color harmonies and describes how the artist “painted” his living masterpiece. He guides the reader on how to scale down Monet’s ideas for the home garden, with attention to:

  • Understanding the laws of colors
  • Building color harmonies
  • Creating innovative combinations
  • Recognizing the power of monochromatic plantings
  • Using black in the garden
  • Working with structure and form
  • Building rhythm and surprise
  • Capitalizing on sunlight and shadow
  • Incorporating water features
  • Attracting birds and butterflies.

With 175 color photographs and illustrations and a dozen detailed planting plans, The Magic of Monet’s Garden will inspire and instruct home gardeners to create their own versions of Giverny.

And another you will love is entitled Claude Monet’s Gardens at Giverny.

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The wonders of La Chassagnette in Camargue

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La ChassagnetteI found this article in France Today which I thought you might enjoy.

The Camargue—that wide strip of land between sky and sea that stretches across arms of the Rhône—is not just a paradise for birds and white horses. Its marshes are put to work producing crystalline salt, its broad flatlands produce some of the world’s finest rice, and its grassy fields are home to black cattle whose lean, delicious meat is recognized for its healthful properties.

If you have time for only one restaurant in the Camargue, it should be Armand Arnal’s La Chassagnette. Seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, the tall, quiet chef presides over a restaurant both simple and sophisticated. Simple, because he uses only fruits and vegetables from his own organic garden, no matter the season. His immense potager, which inspires rapt admiration in most visitors, produces treasures he transforms into the most elegant of dishes. For Arnal, vegetables are not an accompaniment but a noble product, worthy of all his attention, and ours. It’s sophisticated, because he knows how to take a fish, caught that morning or the night before, and use it to compose a dish that seems quite unpretentious but is the result of some fairly profound thought. Take the marinated lisette, a small mackerel that he serves with a broccoli purée, black sesame and preserved lemon; or the duck raised in the rice fields, served with ribbons of root vegetables in a sweet-and-sour sauce and a sprinkling of caramelized pine nuts; or the dessert of fennel sorbet, vanilla granité and fennel confit. Born in Montpellier, Arnal formerly worked with Alain Ducasse, notably in his New York restaurant for several years. Arriving at La Chassagnette in 2006, he won a Michelin star in 2009. Although he’s proud of it, he says a star was not his primary motivation— what he likes is creating cuisine tied to its locality, and in the Camargue he has found his niche. Route de Sambuc (betwee Arles and Le Sambuc)04.90.97.26.96 www.chassagnette.fr