French Cottage Garden?

lavender_lass(4b)October 19, 2009

I have a question. Yes, another one. :)

I was on the Home Site discussing decorating and a lot of people seem to like english and french country style (as do I). I know the English cottage garden goes well with english country, but what about french country? Does anyone have a French cottage garden or Provence type garden? I know there's a potager forum, but this is probably more about flowers (and herbs, vegetables and fruit, if you like) but more informal.

This year I had sunflowers in the vegetable bed and I put lots of hidcote lavender around my roses. I think the right perennials and annuals could look a little like Provence. Any ideas or pics?

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Sure there's a french country version. Usually there's roses as well as lavenders. Irises, sunflowers, daisies too...grape vines, olive trees, bay trees, lemon trees, rosemaries etc. The tone is a bit less busy than say the English version. most hues are either in the pinks, whites and blues.

I would suggest you look up photos of Monet's garden for inspiration. The old version of the Victoria magazine had many examples of french gardens.

I think what makes french garden different is also the use of accessories like bistro chairs and tables, pebble stone courtyard, stone country homes, windows with crochet laces, blue hued watering cans, provence cloth, pressed glass, wire baskets.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 4:49PM
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patlovesdirt(8 NC)

I am positively swooning, ianna! I'm in the middle of completely redoing all my beds. In the current one, not yet complete, I'd already moved 3 pink roses, lavender and shasta daisy into this bed, but until I read your post, I was really just dragging myself through it, uninspired, and I had no clear idea of what look I was trying to achieve here. Now I do! I think I've got the bones for a french country garden, thanks to you. Now I'll do a little internet researching and refine the whole plan. What fun I'm going to have! Thanks again - and of course many, many thanks to lavender lass for bringing this up! I'd love to find some kind of old-world looking statue to put in there, too. Any ideas about resources?


    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 5:16PM
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Ianna, you have a real vision of French country! I can grow sunflowers, iris, lavender, grapes, roses, and daisies in zone 4. :) And I love pink, blue, white and especially lavender! I have some black wrought iron bistro chairs around a little table in one garden and there are some old bricks (kind of a rose color) that I'd love to use for a little patio or walkway. (I only have enough for a 8' x 12' area--they were at my Mom's and we took them up when she moved and she later gave them to me.

Pat- I think your 3 pink roses, lavender and shasta daisies will look great in your new garden. You're lucky you live in zone 8, you might be able to add even more elements, like the rosemary, bay or lemon!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 5:47PM
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On the Antique Rose forum, I asked about the best old-fashioned roses for a cottage garden. Towards the end of the thread, Isabelle posted a link to a beautiful garden in France...I think it's hers!

It shows the garden during different months of the summer and even has detailed photos on different roses and other flowers. I think everything Ianna mentioned is in that garden :)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 6:59PM
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these are some of the photos that I took of Monet's walled gardens (Clos Normand) in early May this year. On the left sidebar on my blog are links to photos of his house and the water garden. I took over 200 photos, so these are just a few.

One of my favorite garden books is the Impressionists Garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monet's Gardens

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 7:42AM
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Wow. I didn't expect such a reaction. I'm flattered really. I did enjoy designing my own little provence garden but later on gravitated right back to English gardening because I do love too many variety of flowers.

The typical country French garden is more about quiet country life. They use indigenous materials like stone, their house walls are whitewashed or they retain the hues of the earth in the their local areas so that can be ochre (think yellow sunflowers) or red (think terracotta pots). They embelish their old world homes with colourful textiles. They love simple flowers and I should add marguerite daisies and French marigolds to the mix of blooms. They also love the colour of fushia (think geraniums)which appears in their various textiles.

Monet's garden is actually more influenced by English gardening, however with a French flair. Note the elements used - the green arches you find every where including the bridges. That particular green screams French. It's paths continue to use pebble stones. There is something about the crunching sound of pebbles when one walks on it.

To be inspired, read up on articles on French Country lives. Look up specifically the Provence area. I poured through magazines, read books like A year in Provence, watched shows like Chocolat, or watched the TV version of A Year in Provence. In my case, I continue to indulge my French facination in my (occasional) quilting hobby - so have books on the subject. Look into French country cooking too.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 9:44AM
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Cameron- Very nice pics! While Monet's garden is beautiful, I was very interested in your article about deer resistant plants. I have deer out here, but only a few brave enough to come into the yard. I want to have roses in the garden, especially rugosas, albas, gallicas and I have a few hybrid teaas if they make it through the winter. Our deer found my roses when they were out in the yard, but since I moved them up to the house, and surrounded them with deer resistant plants and herbs, she hasn't paid much attention to them. She also hasn't shown any interest in my small veggie garden, but I planted a lot of marigolds, nasturtiums, snapdragons and calendula in there, so that may have discouraged her. I have some butterfly bushes and coneflowers in one area and I've noticed the deer also don't seem to like blueberry shrubs, at least the Chippewa I planted this year. I'm thinking of adding some bee balm and of course, I have lavender :)

Ianna- Do you have any pics of your Provence garden? I found some good articles on the Internet, but they only have a few pictures. Since I live in the country, I have a nice view of the pasture, the creek behind the house and the pine trees on the hill behind it. I want the gardens to accent the view, not overwhelm it. Less flowers, with more greenery and texture seems a better fit, but I do love roses and lavender against the house and vines climbing over an arbor. I'd love to grow jasmine, but star jasmine (as an annual) is about the best we can do, but maybe some honeysuckle?

Pat- I think an old world statue would look great in your space. I'm no expert on resources, but this may be a good time to check clearance centers in your area. I got a great deal on a bird bath that was originally $50 for $4. I later found out it was mismarked, but they honored the price (it was supposed to be $20). It looks great in the garden, but I think the barn kitties, and sometimes the yellow jackets, like to use it more than the birds. The birds prefer the creek, but some birds do come up and steal the cats' food, so I guess they're even :)

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 1:11PM
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I no longer have the photos of my front yard garden, sorry. I moved houses a while ago and so I no longer have that front yard courtyard I created awhile back. I had a tiny property with a postcard stamp front yard. It didn't makes sense to me to have to work hard on growing a lawn there so I edged the property with rectangular beds edged with 4x4 lumber (sunked in), then the rest of the yard was dug up so we could put in a pebble yard, with flagstone steps in the entrance way. I also erected a single post about 12 feet in which I topped off with simple metal plant hangers. I think I had about 2 or even 3 such hangers. I preferred using those with curly details (in french fashion). I intended these hangers to form a trellis. I planted a new dawn rose to grow up the post and simply to fall over. -- however in time I also added a clematis which then made what was to be a french yard, into an English garden. I also had rows of lavenders at first. but then started other plants which I just couldn't resist. So this just evolved into English cottage gardens. In fact, just adding delphiniums made it an English garden in my mind anyway. But I kept my pebble yard and my bistro table and chair. It was a comfortable courtyard and one can sit there and observe people or read a book. It was nice while it lasted. Interestingly, when I sold my house, it was what drew interest to my home.

I had forgotten to mention hedging materials often used to create that french feel. I also used old world roses or at least roses that are considered 'antique' like David Austen roses. However simplicity is not my thing as I gravitate to more complicated forms of planting.

Another vine well used in French gardening, is the wistersia. Monet's garden uses it.

As for your proposal - I think it's fine. Do frame the view. I would if I had a large property.

My favorite form of gardening for now is meadow gardening and I sure would love to see how to frame that view with this form of gardening.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 10:21AM
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Ianna- Your former front garden sounds very pretty and what a creative way to use a small space. Delphiniums and clematis may add more of an english cottage garden, but they do look good with the roses. It's great that your garden helped sell your house.

Wisteria is beautiful and I've always wanted to plant some on an arbor, but I think it would be hard here with the winters. It also takes years to get tall enough to bloom. I think I'd rather have a grape arbor, which also takes time, but you have food :) I showed my husband a picture of Isabelle's grape arbor (on the antique roses forum) and he thought it would be a great idea to have one here!

Do you have a meadow garden now? What kind of flowers are in a meadow garden?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 12:41PM
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patlovesdirt(8 NC)

Really all great ideas, and Cameron, those pictures just boggle the mind! The gardens are so vast, my problem will be translating that into a much smaller space. Talk about sweeps of color! At least I've got a lot more garden area to clear out and redo, so now with the idea of a french country garden in mind I can give it more focus. Lavender lass, aren't you glad you posted this question? I wish we could get together to co-conspire, lol!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 12:56PM
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pat, although this isn't french gardening, I would suggest you look up the Millenium gardens in Chicago. It's meadow gardening really but it deals with sweeps of simple flowers. The idea is perhaps you can create a form of boundary to create your inner courtyard french garden, and as for the vast areas, keep it simple and think meadows. In France that country side scene would probably be filled with farms of lavenders, wheat, sunflowers or artichokes.

BTW Lavender Lass, I do note that you are in zone 4 - now I'm in Ontario, Canadian zone 5b but it;s the US zone 4. Our winters are well,, goes -25C to even -30C. The point is, wisteria grows in abundance here. There's a japanese variety that blooms in 3 years. The chinese varieties takes 9 or 10 years I understand. Anyhow, just an fyi. In anycase, wisteria are very aggressive vine requiring very strong trellises.

Oh,, another plant I grew in my pebble courtyard, creeping thyme and lots of it.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 4:18PM
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Oh, another flower for a French country feel in a field or meadow - poppies!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 10:16AM
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Ianna- It gets pretty cold here most winters, with -27 F about every 3rd year. It almost always gets down to -20 F. We live in a strange little microclimate, but it's pretty :) Wisteria would be beautiful. It's nice to know there's one that blooms in three years.

Pat- I am glad I posted this question. I think we all are getting great ideas for our gardens!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 12:18PM
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I just found this link on the HGTV website. It's got some neat ideas for a small garden. Although it says Victorian garden, I thought with the greenery and just a few colors, like purple, it might fit what we've been talking about...and it had the wrought iron furniture :)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 9:19PM
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patlovesdirt(8 NC)

Lavender lass - how did you read my mind? The HGTV fourth picture with the fountain is it!

This is what I want to do! Not so much french country? I think it could be adapted to any type you want it to be - but the fact is, I've printed this out and will use it as my solid plan. It's going to be at the end of the beds I'm working on now. Can't thank you enough! I'll hopefully post pictures next year - if I can achieve anywhere near that perfection! If not, eh, I'll post a picture of my miserable failure, lol! The best part of it is that it's small enough to be doable for me.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 10:53AM
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Pat- That's great! I'm so glad you like it. Can't wait to see your pictures next spring. I'm sure they'll be beautiful.

I like the arch with the morning glories (purple) and the herbs. Did you see that they had tea herbs as well? Very cool ;)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 12:01PM
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i was researching the same thing last year. here's a book you might enjoy.

Here is a link that might be useful: French Country Gardens

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 12:50PM
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Jxa- Great link. French Country Gardens looks like a good book :)

Also saw Rosemary Verey's Good Planting Plans, which seems to be exactly what I want to try in my garden, and it's at the library. Should be able to go get it on Monday and I'll let you know if it's as good as it looks on Amazon.

Thank you all for such great ideas! I'm so glad the Cottage Garden forum is here for newbies like myself :)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 3:03PM
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I just finished looking through Rosemary Verey's Good Planting Plans. Some beautiful gardens, but they're huge! I did get some great ideas for my future tea herb garden, but after looking at all these wonderful gardens, I've decided to try a potager after all. I've been debating whether it's too formal, but I think it will look really good with purple and red raspberries on one side, lilacs along the back and roses and lavender in the front. I do love the roses and lavender! LOL

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 12:13AM
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Just bumping this up to the top for someone on the design forum :)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Found it! This has some great ideas...does anyone have a French or Provence style garden? Any pictures?

Still trying to get some ideas for the back area...between the kitchen garden (1920s style) and the new "rustic" veggie garden for my nephew. I thought Provence style would be a nice way to link the two, and it's on the west side of the house and gets a LOT of heat in the summer.

While herbs in pots would be nice by the porch, I'm looking more for flower and shrub ideas. Thanks :)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 12:42PM
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LL, you're becoming an enabler! I love the French look and colors, just ordered two books on French garden ideas from Alibris, can hardly wait to receive them! I think the look would go great with the old roses, and lots of the plants will grow here. Haven't had much luck with lavender so far, but have a neighbor who got hers to grow, will get advice from her.

Thanks for bringing this thread forward!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 12:32PM
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Ogrose- Did you get your books? I'm looking for some good ideas, for Christmas :)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 1:44PM
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Here is a great site showing French gardens (they sell roses, but give great ideas for using them). Make sure to click on the many links they have listed to see it all. There are lots of great ideas for French gardens. There is even a link where you can look at Claude Monet's gardens with classical music while you browse.

Some is of the very formal and some is the informal country style. Doable ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rose Gardening Made Easy

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 2:34AM
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