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A city garden in Montpellier, France

Our city garden was created in 2003 using first plants from my previous garden which had been waiting in pots since 2001 (Helleborus orientalis, Viburnum bodnantense and V. opulus, Hemerocallis, geraniums, Thalictrum flavum, Cotinus, etc).

My husband's grandfather bought this piece of land as a second house to grow vines and enjoy the countryside during the weekends. Now, however, the town of Montpellier has expanded and we are surrounded by buildings and concrete everywhere. The soil in this small garden is alkaline and silty. It can be divided into several zones:

  • The kitchen garden at the entrance established in the previous generation; I am still working on it, because I need to find a suitable design.
  • The Matricaria tchihatchewii lawn with the olive tree and the mixed hedge to hide the cars so that they can't be seen from the house.
  • The beds in front of the house that have not been irrigated at all since summer 2008.
  • The east-facing mixed border which is irrigated in summer.
  • The somewhat tropical border with the small fish pond, also irrigated.
  • The north-facing mixed border planted with evergreen trees and shrubs plus perennials.
  • The two mediterranean beds in the middle bordered by a small bamboo grove. In this zone, some of the plants are watered once a week in summer, and some are not. These raised beds were created in 2006 and since then the plants have increased threefold.

Our aim was first of all to hide the surrounding buildings with trees and bamboos and concentrate on the garden proper. We then had to cover the walls surrounding the garden with greenery. This was an opportunity to plant lots of different climbers.

I am still learning and enjoying experimenting with new plants a lot. There is no doubt that gardening in our area is much more challenging than in the northern parts of Europe.

Epilobium canum (syn. Zauschneria californica), Briza media 'Limouzi',
Gaura lindheimeri
, Buddleja crispa and Euphorbia characias in the foreground
with Bulbine frutescens and Lobelia laxiflora flowering in the background

My best companion planting: Lobelia laxiflora with Bulbine frutescens
flowering from May until the first frost. There is also Glaucium flavum,
Artemisia, Solanum aviculare, Buddleja x weyeriana 'Sungold' and the
bamboo grove in the background.

Bulbine frutescens and Oenothera odorata.

Bulbine frutescens close-up.

Mediterranean middle zone: Ceratostigma willmottianum, Ajania pacifica,
Ballota pseudodictamnus, Oenothera speciosa '
Alba', Galium verum,
Lavandula dentata, Verbena bonariensis, Buddleja x weyeriana
Liquidambar styraciflua, Koelreuteria paniculata.

Galium verum with Ballota pseudodictamnus and Lavandula dentata.

One of my favourite plants: Bignonia capreolata.

Camptosema rubicundum.

Attractive companion planting: Artemisia arborescens with an unnamed iris.

Ratibida columnifera with Elscholtzia stauntonii.

Rosa banksiae 'Purezza'.

Lagunaria patersonii.
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