|That woman's scarves, the jacket, the style!|
I first heard about this French garden show years ago, when I had my own nursery, and by all accounts it was very good. Since then, I hear nothing but good things about it – indeed 'Courson' is nearly always accompanied by the word 'wonderful'.
I got an invitation to lecture there at the weekend, so finally went. It is indeed wonderful, in fact so wonderful and I ask myself why I hadn't been before. Only so many hours in the day, days in the week etc plus the fact that years ago I made the decision that since so many of my colleagues went to often to France (part of that British middle-class love affair with France) I would leave them to it, and concentrate on the garden developments in the much less trendy Holland and Germany. Which I have no regrets doing, but time perhaps to spread my net a little more widely.
|Ways of displaying asters|
When I had the nursery (late 1980s) I did indeed make several plant-buying trips to France. I had the impression of a country which was just getting interested in plant-orientated gardening. Now I would say re-interested. Historically, France always led the way in fruit and vegetable production – absolutely no contest. In the late 19th century at the time that British gardeners were in the middle of the golden age of Victorian gardening, French growers were also extremely active. To be fair, it may be that they were even more active.
In the late 19th, British gardeners were still very focused on exotica and summer bedding, but about to make a shift to the great era of plant hunting. The latter brought in many trees and shrubs but arguably benefited large gardeners on acid soils more than anybody else. The French focus remained much more on garden plants. One man, Victor Lemoine of Nancy, bred a stupendous number of garden plants. No-one seems to have written a biography of him, which is a shame, as he was extraordinarily productive (I have written a little in . During the 20th century I get the impression that French gardening went into a bit of a slump by comparison. British gardening did too, but by the 1960s Adrian Bloom, Beth Chatto and a few others were doing their best to liven things up. French interest seemed to lag behind.
|Its not often now I really lust after a plant, but Salvia regla was just amazing. None left :( From Fleurs et Senteurs of Brittany|
Since the 1980s however there has been an explosion of new nurseries, plantsman-gardeners and interesting gardens. Indeed, walking around the nursery stands of Courson and reading through the accompanying catalogue, I almost feel like saying that perhaps there are now more interesting nurseries selling interesting plants than at home.
|This year's theme was 'wind' and there were some interesting diagrams about the way various winds affect different parts of France. Never seen anything like that for the UK|
|On the Barbour stand for that must-have British fashion|
|Great idea for a green wall unit from Citéflor|
|The chateau itself, many wonderful trees in the park. Our room was the one on the right.|