Until I moved to France, I never really thought of the French as being keen gardeners. It should have been obvious considering that when you’re traveling around France there is clearly great pride in the “villages Fleuris” – those towns and villages that grow amazing flower displays for all to admire.
In the UK we tend to believe that British gardeners are the best in the world – we quote Capability Brown (1716–1783), Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932) and Vita Saville-West (1892-1962) as if they were friends – well those of us that are gardeners do anyway!
One of the most popular TV programmes in the UK is Gardeners World which has spawned a raft of famous gardener/presenters such as Geoff Hamilton, Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don – and who can forget the bra-less Charlie Dimock who made gardening sexy in the ‘90s! Let’s face it – the British (including me) are fairly obsessed with gardening.
So it was with a lot of pleasure and a little surprise to discover that the French are equally mad on gardening whether it be flower gardening or vegetable gardening.
They too have their famous French gardens – think Monet’s garden at Giverny, the fantastic formal gardens of the Chateau de Versailles. The French also produce gardening magazines by the ton and they too think they are the best in the world!
No self-respecting French man or woman with a garden would dream of not growing some vegetables – usually in immaculate rows, perhaps even planting by the phases of the moon.
Well, I came out to France wanting to learn more about gardening and it looks like I’m in the right place!