Monthly Archives: December 2009

On the Bookshelf: Mon petite voyage dans un livre

Gardens in France cover 12-09Thanks to an unexpected gift, I was able to leave my cold and snowy New England confines and feast my visual senses in a few magnifique gardens in France … all without leaving the couch or my cozy warm fire.  One of my favorites, Les Confines in Provence, as shown in the photo below, is the garden of landscape designer Dominique Lafourcade and her husband Bruno.  What’s not to love about a lambs ear and lavender lined rill running through an orchard of potted olive trees before it spills under an ivy covered circle into the natural pond just out of the eye’s view?

But the book Gardens in France is filled with similarly beautiful, expansive, and striking gardens, such as the kitchen garden at The Villandry which consists of nine squares of equal dimensions; each lined with an oak trellis, centered with a fountain, and filled with perfectly spaced seasonal vegetables.  In the fall and winter , red and white cabbages, purple chards, and leeks dominate the beds.

Editor Angelika Taschen, photographer Deidi von Schaewen, and writer Marie-Francoise Valery have filled nearly 340 pages with descriptions of more than 40 gardens – both private and public, including Versailles, Claude Monet’s Giverny, and Le Jardin exotique d”Eze.  The photos and descriptions allow readers to get lost in breathtaking beauty, but also get a bird’s eye view that clearly depicts the structure and design aspects that make each garden remarkable, whether growing vegetables or flowers, or simply acting as an outdoor extension of an equally remarkable home.

Gardens in France inside 12-09The photos are truly enchanting and I look forward, with the turn of a page, to studying the design concepts that make these gardens so delightful.  What a great mental activity for a landscape design student who has many hours ahead when Connecticut snows will fly and temperatures will plummet.

Interested? Try Amazon or Borders, and simply type in Gardens in France.  This is a coffee table book that will get the creative juices of any gardener flowing … even in the dead of winter.

Holiday to-do

Let’s see … I have a book to finish, studying to do, and a blog to keep active after I finish all paying work and paying all bills.  But for the rest of this week, once I finish my work, I’m setting the book and lessons aside.

‘Tis the season to bake, wrap, clean, cook, hang stockings, ready gifts for friends and neighbors, and otherwise revel in the pleasures of the holidays.

P9090031Nothing’s better than sharing time with family and friends, so please excuse me while I soak in every possible second with mine … particularly with my future gardening buddy.

Gee, I hope she will enjoy playing in the soils in Grandma’s gardens.  Do you think she’s too young for gardening gloves?



Happy winter … in spite of the cold, it really is a magical season.  Enjoy!  P9250003

Hey, Mother Nature.  May we keep our winter blanket through the weekend?

There’s a sidewalk under …

snowy walkway-1 12-20-09 Mother Nature must read gardening blogs.  She sure heard my plea for a comforter of snow.  Sunday morning, December 20, 2009, and we figure about 2 feet of the white powdery stuff now graces our space.  The exact depth is hard to tell since the wind howled most of the night and sculpted drifts of snow up to 3 feet deep here and there.  The snow gauge read about 5 inches by 11 pm Saturday, and 18 inches at 2:30 Sunday morning.  Since the gauge only reads to 18 inches, and it is nearly covered right now, we’re guessing we have from 22 to 24 inches of snow overall, and when it gets this deep, what’s a couple of inches either way?

The snow stopped at around 10 am or so … and I know there is a sidewalk under here somewhere.


snowy walkway-2 12-20-09      snowy walkway-3 12-20-09      snowy walkway-4 12-20-09

Found the first step.

Note to self: when expecting heavy snow, only leave one shovel outside the door.  Leaving two there is somewhat counter-productive.

snowy walkway-5 12-20-09      snowy walkway-7 12-20-09     snowy walkway-10 12-20-09

Shovels finally freed … time for a quick look around.

It would be a shame to spend the first hours of this day only shoveling.

Astilbe seed head 12-20-09  Astilbe close up.  Pieris 12-20-09  A chilly Pieris shrub. 

Winterberry 12-20-09 Bright Winterberry … and a winter wonderland front yard. front yard 12-20-09

Now, after a brief coffee break it’s time to get back to work  out front.

Let’s see … I know there’s a sidewalk under here somewhere … front sidewalk 12-20-09