One of the joys of travelling is bringing memories and inspiration back home. Walking through public gardens in the cities you are visiting is relaxing and a respite from hours of pounding the pavement. A favourite pastime of mine is sitting on a bench, reflecting on the day and watching the world pass by.
Although I’ve been to Paris many times, it’s just been on the last two visits that I’ve made my way to Place des Vosges. If you have been watching “Emily in Paris” you will recognize the scenes filmed there. It is one of the few gardens in Paris where you are allowed to sit on the grass.
Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris (1605-1612), located between the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. Originally called Place Royale, it was never home to royalty but a meeting place for them and other wealthy aristocrats. The garden is surrounded by 36 towering residences identical with red brick and stone exteriors and steeply pitched blue slate roofs. As you pass along the stone arcades on the ground level, you will find museums, galleries, retail and designer boutiques, and restaurants. One notable museum at #6 Place des Vosges is the Maison de Victor Hugo, where the renowned writer once resided. Isadora Duncan and Colette also called Place des Vosges home.
The square is 140m x 140m and is perfectly symmetrical. You can relax on the benches under rows of tightly clipped Linden trees around the perimeter of the garden. The original statue of Louis X11, destroyed during the revolution, was replaced with a replica in 1825. In the centre of the square is a lavish fountain. The history of Place des Vosges is intriguing; however, it’s the garden design that I love most. That formality has influenced what I’ve tried to achieve in my garden.
The Spring of 2015 saw a huge transformation of my front garden. First, I had the grass removed…it was very tired, patchy and full of dandelions. The store had closed a few weeks prior, and suddenly I had time...too much time on my hands. With Sundays being my day off, time in the garden was minimal until then. Before that the planning and work I had done was in the back garden…the front was mostly neglected.
The photos below were taken after the grass was removed.
The first project for the front garden was planting boxwood hedges close to the city sidewalk with an iron fence in between. Hydrangea, lilacs, blooming shrubs and Korean lilac standard trees were planted behind the boxwood hedges (you may have guessed that both sides of the front walk have to mirror each other!). On one side is a Weeping Willow and the other side has a Japanese Lilac tree.
Over the years, as I’ve planted new shrubs, the soil has been amended, hoping to give them the best start possible. I’ve resisted fertilizing, and along with drought conditions in recent years, the production is not quite what I had envisioned. And with the arrival of Charlie in July last summer, my time was spent caring for and training a puppy. The front garden was all but forgotten…
I plan to spend some (hours) quality time in the front garden this year. The shrubs that have been struggling will probably have to be removed and many more will be planted. I want to maintain some formality while creating a lush array of mostly white (no surprise there!) blooming shrubs and perennials. I can hardly wait to see if all the 100’s of tulips I planted in the fall will bloom as well as the additional alliums I added into the diamond pattern of the boxwood hedges.
Now the snow has to melt!!!!! and the April showers bring much-needed moisture to our gardens.
What do you have planned for the upcoming garden season?