A great weekend with old friends in the Languedoc coincided with the annual French gardens open weekend, and so I had the chance to visit La Petite Pepiniere in Caunes Minervois, which has been run by the inspiring Gill Pound for the past 18 years. Gill Pound is now retiring from running the nursery, whilst still maintaining her garden design work and running occasional gardening courses, but the nursery will be continued and expanded by Imogen Checketts and Kate Dumbleton from a new site right next to the original La Petite Pepiniere.
There were some lovely things to see, and to buy. I really loved the shingle beachside feel of this gravel planting of grasses.
New to me was this fabulous tree, Melia azderach. Wide, sweeping, tiered foliage with swags of violet blossoms, and the stunning matte brown bare trunk makes this tree a superb specimen for a hot, dry position, which really catches the eye. Throwing good shade I think during summer, it would make an ideal small garden or courtyard tree. It’s an Australian native tree, tough, drought tolerant and even handling some frost apparently. According to Top Tropicals, it is a fast grower, reaching 15-16m in a few years with a wide canopy as you can see. The blossom is quite gorgeous, and apparently has a strong fragrance, but, as ever, the Piasecka nose was not in operation.
The garden had some beautiful flower moments too. I really loved this jumble of flowering plants together, all mature specimens, and so making a shower of bloom and colour.
I think I have identified these correctly, but what works so well is the grey, pink colouring of the Origanum which just bridges the deeper pink of the Cistus and the banana yellow of the Phlomis.
This lemon Halimium is so bright, it almost blinds in sunlight. It is a stunning performer, and I would adopt Christopher Llloyd’s refusal to worry about colours together in this case. Upright, yet also tumbling in habit, drought tolerant, it bounces back from wind, rain , hail, and pretty much everything, whilst also repeat flowering, and being frost hardy. Not bad.
As we left, this unknown Callistemon was doing a great firework impression. Of course, there were purchases made. When you get the chance to visit a really thoughtful collection of plants, it’s impossible to leave empty-handed. And one of my purchases flowered today, it’s first flower, I think. Who wouldn’t want this orange-shred delight?