Sunday, July 20, 2008

A garden of Provence

Provence is a country to which I am always returning, next week, next year, any day now.....
Elizabeth David

Stage 14 of le Tour de France provided a wonderful bird eye view of this region of France .
Here are some of the plants I like to use in a garden design to create the atmosphere of this delightful part of the world.
Small growing shrubs:
Lavandula dentata ,French Lavender A hardy shrub which grows to about a metre and it always seems to have flowers at most times of the year. Can become a bit woody after a few years and may need to be replaced but cuttings strike readily.
Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosemary. Another aromatic shrub which is able to be pruned to a compact and rounded shape. Blue flowers are loved by bees.
Santolina chamaecyparissus Lavender Cotton. A small growing shrub which responds well to trimming. Hates humid weather and may suffer by producing the odd dead branch which is best pruned out.
Satureja montana Winter Savory (The Provencal name pebre d'ase means Donkey Pepper)
This low growing shrub has very strongly flavoured leaves and very pretty white or pink flowers.
Cistus species Rock Rose Not a thorny rose at all but a very dry hardy small shrub with large tissue paper like flowers in shades of pink or white
Myrtus communis Myrtle The branches of this shrub are laden with fluffy white flowers followed by small berries which have a strong aroma. The branches are placed around roasting meat to impart a unique flavour.
Trees and Shrubs
Cupressus sempervirens 'Stricta' Pencil Pine This tall growing slender tree is one I can't live without (even though the top of one of mine was sheared off by the 110 k per hour winds.)
Olea europaea Olive Tree Now a familiar tree on the Australian landscape and suitable for large and small gardens alike.
Nerium oleander Oleander. Despite the bad press about it being a poisonous plant, there are many attractive colour forms of this shrub and it is one I continue to propagate and plant out in gardens. Reliable,hardy and with fragrant flowers, who could ask for more.
Punica granatum Pomegranate This large shrub is undergoing a bit of a revival thanks to the enthusiasm of cooks such as Maggie Beer. The flowers are a rich orange red and the fruits are extremely decorative and useful.
Albizia julibrissin 'Rosea' This is a graceful small tree with ferny foliage and fluffy pink flowers covering the canopy in Summer.
This is a small selection of the interesting plants which can evoke that French Provencal atmosphere in your garden.

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