Garden ideas from the most fashionable city in the world. Includes planting combos, trellises, and garden features
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Last week Josh and I went to Paris to celebrate our birthdays. He’s a big fan of food and wine (who am I kidding, who isn’t?) and I’m a garden geek so we managed to make sure that we saw both these sides of the city. In fact one complimented the other since it was the calorie overload of French cheese that powered our walks through the green spaces of one of the most romantic places in the world.
My three favourite areas for gardening inspiration turned out to be the Jardin des Plantes, the main botanical garden of France, the Jardin du Luxembourg, the most popular park in the city, and the strangely beautiful Père Lachaise cemetery. Each was completely different but each held gardening ideas that I think all of us can be inspired by. This list of twenty-five images and observations can be used to help design gardens of all sizes while showcasing the diversity of garden design in this beautiful city.
1. Build beautiful homes for Wildlife
Insect hotels can be made using bamboo canes, old pieces of wood, drilled logs, bricks, and anything else you’ve ever noticed bugs and bees hiding in. By encouraging wildlife in your garden, you’ll get their added help in pollination and natural pest-control.
2. Vegetables mixed with Ornamentals
Can you spot the Ruby Chard growing in this border? Edible plants aren’t just practical, they can be attractive too so consider integrating them into your ornamental growing spaces.
3. Pumpkin Pot
Cinderella isn’t the only one who should be able to use vegetables in home design and transport! This pumpkin pot caught my eye through a shop window and I’ve been thinking of it ever since. I’ve since found it online at both Amazon.com and in the UK at Amazon.co.uk. There’s a white one too!
4. Geometric structure
Plants grow in a natural and organic way that compliments geometric shapes. Use circles, squares, half-circles, and sharp angles for garden layout and growing structures.
5. Hanging features create interest
Whether it’s dangling gourds, a spray of flowers, fruit heavy on a branch, or garden artwork hanging in strategic places, hanging features create interest. They fill empty spaces, pepper growing spaces with full shapes, and create movement when they sway in the breeze.
6. Allow plants to go wild
The tendrils of ivy climbing up this tombstone weren’t planned but compliment the flat stone surface in a natural and romantic way.
7. Big splashes of single colour
Use a single type and/or colour of flower to create high a high impact statement. Here magenta Petunias spill out of a classical stone planter.
8. Festooned with Ivy
Some plants and flowers can become an issue in the garden. They self-seed, invade beds, and become a general nuisance. Use these plants natural vigor and tendencies to your benefit. Here Ivy has been trained into an elegant design feature that separates a walkway from a lawn.
9. Nothing is too big for a planter
If you don’t have ground space for a tree or bush, or maybe you have one that’s too tender to be out all winter, then plant it in a large container. This palm tree, and dozens of it’s siblings, is thriving in a wooden box in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
10. Create theatre in your garden
Sometimes your plantings are the star of the show and sometimes they’re the audience. This colourful bed of flowers surrounding a statue of Pan playing his flute draw the eye to the statue without competing with it.
11. Grow a Garden Inside
It’s nice to enjoy green life outdoors but bringing it inside will give you a place to enjoy it when it rains, during the colder months, or just because some plants and flowers won’t do well in your climate. This large glasshouse at the Jardin des Plantes is out of the scope of most but a small conservatory or sunny window are perfect for getting the same effect at home.
12. Go vertical
Climbers on a simple structure create stunning displays of colour but also help separate areas of your garden and yard. This could be a great way to hide unsightly areas as well.
Did you know that there were so many different types of cactus? The same applies to other plants so instead of growing the same variety year after years look to see if there are others that you might like just as much or even better! Read more about the Desert & Arid Land Glasshouse
14. Break up your lawn
The conventional front lawn is a square of lawn surrounded by flower beds. Unless you use your front lawn for playing football, break up the green grass with beds that crisscross it. Use simple lines or create a pattern that you and your neighbours will enjoy.
15. Grow Weird Plants
Don’t the tendrils of this Crassula lycopodioides remind you of green snakes? Imagine planting them into the head of a bust of a woman – voilà, Medusa! Plants that are weird, ugly, or creepy can help add creativity to your home and garden.
16. Trees create intimate spaces
This canopy of trees in the Père Lachaise cemetery covers the tombs and those visiting in a blanket of green. It makes the large space more intimate and breaks it up into more personal spaces.
17. The right plant can direct traffic
I spotted this Sedum spectabile ‘Neon’ from about fifty feet away and made a beeline for it. I’d never have walked down this otherwise generic pathway otherwise.
18. Stone and greenery create harmony
Imagine vines growing over Mayan temples, pebbles on a path breaking up a lawn, and succulents growing in a stone wall. The gestalt of stone and green life are harmonious and a classic design element that fits well in any garden.
19. Trees as architecture
A simple line of trees draws the eye down a path or road but also creates an intimate corridor that shades you from the elements. It essentially creates an outdoor room with vaulted ceilings.
20. Separation of Growing Areas
In this botanical garden the water features are designed to showcase different types of plants within the same space. What I like about it is that it constrains plants into their own spaces and allows them to all thrive without competing for nutrients or sunlight. This could be a great idea for growing different types of mint or other plants that like to invade territory.
21. Protect edibles
This persistent crow was lucky enough to find a stalk of wheat growing through the netting. When using netting make sure that it’s pulled tight, and there are no parts that animals can easily get caught up in. Ideally, have it six inches up off the ground as well.
Irregardless of how well you’ve set it up, visit regularly to make sure it’s not caught an animal. I’ve seen netting catch song birds as well as hedgehogs. If you’re having issues with birds in your veggie gardens, check out these ideas for keeping them out.
22. Feed your local wildlife
While you will want to net crops you want for yourself, it’s kind to grow plants that your local wildlife will like too. Sunflowers are a great option because they look great on their way to producing seed and the birds can help themselves when they’ve produced.
For the past couple of years ‘Ombre’ has been trendy in hair colour, fashion, and design. This Ipomeia lobata laughs in the face of our design discovery! What we should take from this is that trends are interesting and can inspire but really, it’s all been done before. Take what you like and don’t feel obligated to conform to what’s popular at the moment.
24. Dress up Windows with Flowers
No matter how beautiful a building may be on its own, a splash of colour can accentuate its best features. Here the red and green from geraniums adds life to romantic architecture.
25. Mulch with grass clippings
Grass clippings used as mulch? If the French do it, then I can do it! All laughing aside, this practical way of keeping weeds down also feeds your soil so think twice about what you do with your next load of lawn clippings.