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Old 23-02-2017, 08:39 AM posted to uk.rec.gardening
Jeff Layman[_2_] Jeff Layman[_2_] is offline
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,730
Default Garden in France

On 22/02/17 22:18, Mr Sandman wrote:

Hi all,

I am looking for ideas for my French house's garden, ideally need to post
pictures of what is here now and describe my ideas and get feedback. An
online forum rather than usenet would be better if there are any good ones
you chaps can recommend? otherwise i can post some pics and link to them
here if this is the better place to get some advice from you kind

Any advice welcomed:-)



Hi all,

Here is a picture of the house from the lane at side of house. Just for

Here is a picture of the long fence as you drive up towards the house. It
needs someone doing to hide it or break it up and I'm not sure what to do
with it. I have put the odd rose up though...

Here is the main problem. This area at front of house we want to use in
cooler weather but at the moment it's just a sitting area in the middle of
nowhere. I have had a suggestion to create some pergola or structure over
the seating to enclose it a little and create a little dappled shade, or
with a full roof, a nice sheltered area. Also extend the box shrubs
the seats somehow. I am thinking it would be nice to make this area into a
garden but with shrubs and trees etc coming out of the gravel?

View from house.

Any suggestions comment welcomed:-)

Many thanks,


The pics are helpful, but I have a couple of questions.

Firstly, what direction does that front wall face? I assume it's south
or west as you say you want to use it in cooler weather. Secondly,
what's under the gravel? If it's just weedproof membrane over soil then
you could plant in it. But if it's, for example, a few cm of gravel over
maybe 20 cm of compressed hardcore then very little will grow unless you
can dig out the hardcore and replace it with some soil.

Hi Jeff, yes you are right, the front wall faces due south, and the gravel
has compressed crushed limestone underneath, so yes, i will need to do some
work to plant it up. But as it happens, i have a digger on site in the
few months doing another job.....

Steve :-)

Hope you see this OK as you use Windows Live Mail, and it's messed
things up by putting your reply in after my sig. I've had to
copy'n'paste your reply in, but it'll look like it's my text as there's
no "" at the beginning of your text.

Well, we are getting somewhere. That limestone means ericaceous plants
really won't like the conditions. There are some lime-tolerant rhodos,
and if you really want one then you'll have to look at some internet
pages which cover them. There is a lot of information available on which
shrubs and trees to avoid on alkaline soil, and similarly a lot on those
which love it. I wouldn't bother putting ericaceous plants in containers
with acid soil. As you pointed out that area will get very hot in summer
and you'll be forever watering them (by the way, is your water chalky?
If so, it's another good reason to avoid anything which doesn't like
chalk and needs regular watering). For shrubs remember that area will
get very hot, and things like cistus will go mad and romp away. You
might want to consider any "Mediterranean" climate plants from the
southern hemisphere and California (such as ceanothus). How well they do
in winter might depend on exactly how cold it gets in winter, but
remember that many American plants, particularly trees, grow better in a
continental climate. They survive much colder weather than in the UK
because the wood is ripened by extreme summer heat. In fact, many flower
much better than they do here.

To cover the fence you could grow various clematis and lonicera.

You could do worse than put some climbing roses on that wall. They
should do very well there. As to shade in summer, you could put up a
pergola and grow a decent wisteria up and over it. The advantage is not
only the wonderful flower display in April/May, but the foliage will
provide ample shade in high summer, and when you need more light in
winter, the leaves will have fallen. There are many other choices for
climbers on a pergola; being where you are, you might find that a grape
vine isn't exactly out-of-place!

Remember that many plants need maintenance to keep them growing well, in
particular pruning. And with a large garden that can take some time.

You pretty much have a blank canvas on which to experiment. There will
be mistakes, no doubt, but it will be a lot of fun. And one hell of a

Bonne chance!