Breathe life into your outdoor space. My life in Paris through green tinted spectacles.
Interesting stuff in English for small garden, balcony owners and lovers of green spaces in France and other places too
It's the time of year when dreams of having a vegetable garden happen - I was in the garden centre recently and everyone seemed to be walking out with vegetables, fruit trees, seeds.....If you want a great start, prepare the ground well. You could do worse than think of creating your own raised beds. Here's some ideas:-
Children are very open to nature and gardening. Their natural curiosity and open-ness gives them an affinity and curiousness about the natural world and and all its wonderful ways. I love explaining to smal people how things grow, watching bulbs push their heads up through the soil, gathering and eating produce from the garden. Here's a small gardener's kit in a cute lime and yellow bag with matching tools for young enthusiasts in the garden. 14 Euros and the kid gets his own equipment and a great habit for life!
Here's a strange and wonderful thing. An insect house! For the garden. A little insect hotel to protect and give shelter to the little beasts that do great jobs in the garden. Available from BHV in the spring. 49,90 €. So cute.
Here we go, here's the first garden furniture of the year. Some very reasonable and attractive pieces at IKEA. Contrary to popular belief, some IKEA furniture is pretty resistant - I have a wooden IKEA table in the garden and it's been there for 7 yrs, apart from a stint as the dining table when I was 'between' tables. It's still in ok condition and will last a few years still, although I should have oiled it more often. If you're on a a budget, this is a great place to start to make your garden look pretty, stylish and to enjoy it to the full this summer. Even if you have a small balcony, there's something here for you.
I particularly liked the imitation 'Luxembourg' chairs in bright colours, the very cheap round table and matching chairs, the pretty white bench and matching table and the taupe table with the pink lanterns and lavender display.
The photos are not great, sorry, I got stopped by a staff member as apparently photos are not allowed. I'm always in a rush to take photos in IKEA. Shame as I'm only saying nice things about them.....
I like this yellow one, very cheerful in the summer sunshine.
I think this little seat is unusual and it was only around 79 Euros
Liked the matching chest and side table with lounger
This is a very useful piece of furniture for a garden or poolside
These plastic chairs are very practical and I love the cool colours!
Simple for a small balcony
Something a little more traditional and elegant
A touch of black and green is modern
Pretty for 69 Euros the bench
I really liked this combination, particularly the colour and the bench that fits underneath the table. The pink accessories are a good idea for a feminine look.
This might give you some ideas about what to do with that little sad paved area just outside your flat. I particularly liked the very simple Mediterranean inspired square bordered by rosemary bushes with a simple, very old olive tree and the red pots and yellow walls. Simple, but really beautiful.
If you have a paved area with soil underneath, think about taking out a few random tiles and plant a small tree or bush there instead. Easy! The terraces with Acers punctuating the paved area were particularly 'humanising' in the grey tiles.
I also liked the terrace with red Fermob chairs. Red is a great contrast in a green space, very effective if you dare.
This website has come reccomended. I'll have a look and a dream about all the plants I'd like to order for the spring. It's in French. I had a little play and put all my criteria for a plant in a sunny border but the search found nothing!
And planting is really a dream at the moment as I look outside onto the poor wilting plants damaged by the extreme cold weather we are currently experiencing. I fear for my lovely potted bamboos - they are looking very sad and almost dead. They are meant to resist the cold down to -10° but I fear that in my garden, the temperatures have gone even lower with the wind chill factor. I wrapped the oleander in fleece this year so I'm hoping it will survive.
Don't forget to water your plants, even in this weather, it's been very dry and the wind also dries out plants.
This is so cool! Garden specialists, Truffaut have a nifty little tool that helps you select the right sized pot for your indoor plant. You can see each plant in each pot with different colourways you can also see how the colour looks. You don't need to speak French to use it, just select the plant or the container then click! I enjoyed selecting really small plants and putting them in really large containers and they looked very strange. It's a little bit of educational fun and it might save you buying a pot that's immediately too small (although there are some plants, like orchids that like their roots all cuddled up together). Amuse yourself!
Now is a great time to get summer bargins for your garden. Garden furniture and accessories are the furthest thing from most people's minds so shops want to move their old stock before the new season begins. I spotted these lovely large flower candles at half price, pretty tea light holders and freestanding candles to push in the ground and illuminate your night time meals in the garden, plus large anti mosqito candles that also stake in the ground, plus a large roll of multicoloured tea lights. All in Habitat. 50% off! What are you waiting for?
I tidied up a terrace at the weekend on 9th floor in 15th arr. This was the view
It's hard to complain about your hands getting torn to shreds by a very stubborn rose and the cold when you can look up and, in the misty winter sky you can see this! I'm really looking forward to developing the balcony and making it an even nicer place for the owners in the months to come and enjoying the view as I work.
I love independent florists and luckily I live in a country where flowers are a big part of the culture - giving for the usual occasions like Birthdays, to your lover, your Mum but also, I've been surprised at the amount of flower giving at weddings. No traditional wedding group photo is complete without numerous baskets of cellophane wrapped arrangements at the feet of the guests sitting at the front of the photo. Sometimes the baskets make a star showing in individual photos of the bride and groom where the floral tributes are tastefully arranged around them. I was married in the Town Hall and my sister and brother in law who couldn't be there sent a lovely floral tribute for us. I was so unsued to receiving flowers on my wedding day that we forgot about it and left it in the Mairie after the ceremony, so it missed out on the photos!
There is also the traditional Sunday lunch at your parents where you really must show up with some flowers in your hand. The flower shops always have a huge queue on Sunday mornings.
Then there's the Fête du Travail on the 1st of May where nobody works and everybody gives lily of the valley posies to each other. One often finds a multitude of sellers camped out on the high street on the 1st May offering their variations on bouquets of this pretty, frangrant, delicate flower.
On 1st November, it's Toussaint and the dearly loved and departed are remembered with floral tributes on their graves, mostly crysanthanums. Note to strangers to France NEVER bring a bunch of cyrsanthanums for the hostess at a dinner party, or any other occasion - it is very bad luck with its connotations to 1st November.
At funerals, it's still very common to offer floral tributes and a funeral without flowers might be seen as a funeral for a person who was not loved and appreciated by their family, friends and the community. When a French family member of ours died, his wife counted the tributes, read the accompanying cards many many times and found great comfort that they were so numerous, it was a sign for her that her husband was loved and respected. It would not be normal to request donations to a charity for example, as so often happens in UK.
Even at Christmas, when children and their family arrive at their parents for the traditional meal on 24th December, it is not unusual to bring floral arrangements on a Christmas theme. There are some very imaginative arrangements even in the smallest flower shops using candles, sparkles and all sorts of decorations alongside plants or flowers for this occasion.
I say all this to introduce a very cute independent flower shop that I came across right in the heart of the 2nd arr. It's called 'un jardin imaginaire' and it's in the 2nd arr just off rue du 4 septembre.
There are fewer and fewer independent shops left in France with the big guys moving in like Monceau Flowers, Happy and au nom de la rose - none of which are to be criticised - but I like independent enterprises and support them whenever I can.
So here's some pics of un jardin imaginaire and if you're looking for flowers in 2nd then, do visit - the prices are more than fair and the owner is very charming and does not look down his nose at the smallest budget. His shop is like a cornucopia of little charming touches, ornaments, objects from times past. Très charmant!