Early spring gardens in the centre of France


Such an exciting time of the year this; every day when we tour the garden or are out and about with the dog, there are signs of movement in the gardens and countryside. Our own young garden is now alive with Crocus and Snowdrops, while many other bulbs are pushing their shoots up out of the ground. Shrubs and herbacious plants are starting into growth and there are a few buds and blossoms here and there.

Viburnum x bodnantense

Viburnum x bodnantense. A dark form grown in a few Chabris gardens.

We certainly do not have enough winter and spring flowering plants in the garden but the construction of a front wall has opened up many more planting opportunities and I am sure this will be corrected in time. I have my eyes on a lovely dark form of Viburnum x bodnatense, scented, of course, growing in three or four locations around the village. The flowers aredeeper than I am used to but perhaps it’s Dawn or perhaps a French variety. If anyone knows I’d be pleased to hear about it. One of the local specimens has a good sucker or layer just waiting for a new home!

Our Snowdrops are charming but nothing can compare to the sight of them growing under trees in large quantities. The local mill, now beautifully restored and used for sculpture, painting and other art courses, has hundreds of thousands of them in flower at the moment. I keep recieving emails from English gardens inviting me to see the Snowdrops and the NGS web site lists many more open to the public at this time of the year. Worth a trip out, I would have thought.

Scent and Spring seem to go together as the few flowering plants compete for the available pollenating insects. Our new Daphne odora Aureomarginata was planted by the door to the log cabin classroom and is just starting to give off its perfume, a reward for making it to the end of the garden on a grey day like today. I was in the classroom this morning, having lugged the big HP plotter down from the attic to be available for students to print out their work later in the season. There is another to bring down and install once my back has recovered from lifting the first one.

Snowdrops at Chabris Mill

The completion of the log cabin, the new front wall and the approaching spring have all encouraged me to get serious about the garden once more. I am discovering however, that I am not as young as I once was and the work, some of it very physical, is having to be spaced out across the week. Between student marking, updating the Academy web site, creating a new site on French gardens and a fair bit of home DIY, I am digging beds, moving plants and planting. Cracking out an old concrete path edge and drain has given me impressive blisters but who knows, if it doesn’t kill me I might find I get fit. “Everything in moderation” as French TV adverts  like to say when warning us about the evils of alcohol. Personally,  I could do with a decent drink after an exhausting afternoon digging, and France is the ideal place to be if you like a tiple in the evening.

Happy gardening, but take it gently and I’ll try to do the same.

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