If you love gardening, and have been trying to make or maintain a garden in the PO, you already know that this is a tough climate. You have probably also learnt that many of the plants you enjoyed growing where you lived before do not like it here. But – there is good news!
Help is at hand with Mediterranean Gardening France.
This is a non-profit making association recently founded by the merger of the two French branches of the Mediterranean Garden Society. It is devoted to the wise use of water, and furthering knowledge and appreciation of plants and gardens suited to the Mediterranean climate. Activities are organised by its two branches: Languedoc/Western Provence, which covers départements in an arc from the Pyrénées-Orientales to the Vaucluse, and Provence/Côte d’Azur. Both branches have an annual programme of visits to gardens both public and private, visits to specialist nurseries, workshops, talks and plant exchanges. During the last two years workshops have included propagating from cuttings or from seeds, photography, and soil analysis. Talks have included the gardens of Australia and Mediterranean bulbs.
The MGF web site is a brilliant source of gardening information. The Languedoc branch, which was started 10 years ago, aims to be bilingual. Members share their experiences of climate and soil conditions, as understanding the micro-climate in your own corner of paradise is crucial to creating the garden you want.
To avoid expensive mistakes it is essential to do some homework before heading to the nearest garden centre or nursery. Just because a plant is on sale, it does not always follow that it will thrive in your garden. For inspiration, and for plants adapted to the Mediterranean climate, think of visiting the display gardens and nursery of Olivier Filippi near Montpellier (www.jardin-sec.com). Or even nearer you will find Gill Pound’s ‘La Petite Pépiniére de Caunes’ in the Minervois (www.lapetitepepiniere.com) .
A lot of information on dry gardening as well as extensive lists of suitable plants can be found in the following books:
– Olivier Filippi, The Dry Gardening Handbook, Thames and Hudson, 2008
– Heidi Gildemeister, Mediterranean Gardening: A Waterwise Approach, Thames and Hudson, 2004.
The international organisation, the Mediterranean Garden Society, publishes a quarterly journal for members www.mediterraneangardenen society.org
And, of course, go to the MGF website: www.mediterraneangardeningfrance.org