Living between the micro and the macro…

Julie G Grevillea Goldrush 1018
In Julie’s Canberra garden, this could be Grevillea ‘Goldrush’, October 2018

Having fulminated more on than off in the last 2 years about the basketcase that is Brexit, last year we both became French citizens.  It is very touching to become a part of a country that we have lived in for 15 years, and have made our home here.  But, the mind belongs to the UK, and particularly Scotland.  So, switching off from all the Brexit pantomime is not really an option.  And so, it occured to me this morning that life has taken on an-on-the-edge feeling of shifting uneasily between the macro big-stuff political and economic world, and the micro of the garden, daily life here, and very dull stuff like housework.

Yesterday, four Tostatenfleur volunteers, our two commune part-time employees, Sebastien and Marc, and I planted up Tostat’s version of the Promenade Planté.  Clearly, not so grand as Paris, but a good 60m stretch of roadside planting, six 6m x 3m squares of perennial and some shrub planting, interspersed with squares of seeded grass.  If you are in Tostat, you need the Route d’Escondeaux and you will find it.  The morning started out a fairly chilly 3°, but warmed up later to a very pleasant 14° in the sun.

Our only problem was cutting the special eco-bache, designed to protect the plants and impede weeds.  Fabulous though it will be, especially as it will degrade into the soil over 3 years as the plants mature- it is a pain to cut!  Meaning that only 2 of us had enough arm-power to force our cutters through it, and this made planting a bit fraught to start with.  But we made it- and as always, the jokes and ribaldry kept us all going and laughing as well as the odd, supportive toot from passing cars.  Photographs to follow in the Spring when growth gets going.

Today, with no tennis elbow amazingly, it feels really good to have finally pulled off this project, which has been 2 years in the planning, including pulling together the dossier to apply for the funding at inter-communal level, and waiting for answers, plants and the weather to allow us to proceed.  Of course, it all looks very tiny and insignificant, but you just wait for next year….

Of course, by then, whatever happens will have happened with the Brexit nonsense.  Maybe that is the only way to live on the macro-micro edge- invest in the micro to combat the effects of the macro.

MJ and JP 1118
MJ and JP on their knees in the first planted square, Route d’Escondeaux, Tostat, November 2018
Heads down
Heads down, going for broke, on the last planted square, Route d’Escondeaux, Tostat, November 2018

Back to the micro….

Meantime, back in Canberra, Australia, where I spent a lovely hour talking plants with Julie, the Head Gardener of her mainly-Australian-natives garden, some stunning grevilleas were in bloom…the first photo in this post, is, I think, likely to be Grevillea ‘Goldrush’.  A recent addition to Julie’s garden, it has sensational golden flowers with just a hint of red, and seems to be a modest grower to maybe 1.5m rather than the more giant Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ which I grow and is now nearly 2m tall and wide.

Grevillea CB
Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’, Tostat, 2017- on the old camera…

This adorable apricot Grevillea was also just coming out, as well as a very delicate pink one. Bit of a Grevillea heaven really.  They are such good and undemanding shrubs as long as you can offer some shelter, though rosmarinifolia varieties seem to me to be really tough.  The range of colours available in Australia is a revelation to those of us used only to traffic-light red.  I have searched and there are some appearing in the UK, if not France.  Burncoose offer a soft yellow Grevillea juniperina Sulphurea, which would probably be hardy enough for us to grow with ‘juniperina’ in its name.

Julie G Apricot Grevillea 1018
This apricot Grevillea was just coming out, Julie’s garden, Canberra, October 2018
Julie G Pink 1018
Delicate, powder-pink, more spidery, Grevillea, Julie’s garden, Canberra, October 2018

Another pretty thing in Julie’s garden was, I think, a Prostanthera, an Australian shrub from the mint family.  These are more widely available in the UK- usually making a neat, rounded shrubby shape of about 1m high and wide, sometimes with a tumbling habit.  Crocus, for example, offer as ‘an alpine mint’ Prostanthera cuneata, with pure-white flowers.

That feels better…

Julie G Prostanthera 2 1018
Prostanthera unknown, Julie’s garden, Canberra, October 2018


3 thoughts on “Living between the micro and the macro…

  1. Hi Alison, I love your tales of anti-dotes to Brexit insanity!! And wonderful to see the latest adventures of Tostat en fleur. One of my current antidotes is listening to Michelle Obama reading her memoir.


  2. Grevilleas are another group of plants that really should be more popular here than they are. They are naturally happy in our climate, and do not need more water than what they get here from rain (once established).


  3. I share you despair over Brexit – what a ridiculous folly. But you are right, we can take comfort by acting to change something in our immediate environment. I look forward to seeing your patch grow.


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