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Starting a garden in Provence


Slow down and think first—Louisa Jones shares her top tips on planting a Provençal garden


Climate Provence has long, hot, dry summers, heavy rains in late autumn


and early spring, mostly mild winters and long, glorious springs.


The worst garden months are February and August and the best light comes in January. Native plant species often flower in midwinter. Summer-flower- ing taxa in England may go dormant in southern heat (for example, many roses). For summer bloom, use annuals, grasses and subtropicals (see below). Autumn means new growth and brilliant foliage colour—it’s the best time to plant. Fruit and foliage count as much as flowers here: native broadleaf ever- greens thrive on regular clipping and provide year-round definition (for example, box and viburnum). If possible, enjoy your garden in all seasons.


What do you already have? Explore your site before making any major


changes. Local microclimates vary depending on their orientation, exposition, altitude and land forms. Check the prevailing winds and the water circulation for draught conditions and storm drainage. Will you have carpets of wild bulbs come April? Do those big trees seem too close to the house? Don’t forget, their shade in summer will reduce indoor temperatures and provide you with a great dining terrace. Tasting, smelling and touching are essential pleasures in a Provençal garden.


Getting help


For free, expert advice on both build- ing and land management, contact the CAUE (Les Conseils d’Architecture, d’Urbanisme et de l’Environement) for your département—CAUE84 covers the Vaucluse, CAUE13 the Bouches du Rhône, and so on. You qualify for this service as a private person (in French, a particulier). Their expertise can help you prevent fire damage, mudslides, disputes with neighbours, and much else.


Big design firms


Some of these have been specialists for decades in the conversion of old bastides into pleasure properties and hobby farms. The following sites are in English.


● Dominique Lafourcade www. dominique-lafourcade.com/en/#/ Accueil


● Jean Mus www.jeanmus.fr/index. php?lang=en


● The younger generation: James Basson, Chelsea prizewinner www. scapedesign.com


Smaller firms


These can help even modest garden- ers save time and money when they’re starting out. Many will also do mainte- nance, essential if you’re not there year-round. They also know the best craftspeople.


● Hilary Ivey Gardens www. hilaryiveygardens.com (in English)


● Les Jardins Secrets www. paysagiste-jardinsecrets.fr


● Benoît Moulin www.instantdejardin. fr


● Jean Laurent Félizia www. mouvementsetpaysages.fr


● Two experienced gardeners, Bruno Collado (bcollado.54@wanadoo.fr) and Christian Biette (christianbiette @yahoo.fr) also specialise in old roses


Nurseries and specialists


As well as selling online, many have show gardens and can provide design advice and maintenance


Pépinière Filippi, the great pioneers (www. jardin-sec.com) Le Jardin de Rochevieille


(http://jaroche.perso.neuf.fr/) La Soldanelle (www.la-soldanelle. info) La Petite Pépinière de Caunes


(www.lapetitepepiniere.com) Pépinière de l’Armalette (www. pepiniere-armalette.fr)


Pépinière Botanique de Vaugines (www.pepinieredevaugines.fr) Pépinières Braun (www.pepiniere-braun.com)


Lavenderswww.lavandesetcompagnie.com Bulbs Bulb’ Argence (www.bulbargence.com)


56 Country Life International, Spring 2014 www.countrylife.co.uk/international


Hemis/Alamy; MAP/Nicole et Patrick Mioulane/Garden World Images; Dreamstime; Trevor Sims/Garden World Images


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