I can't get Parisian gardens out of my mind. As highly designed and vast as they are, the public gardens of Paris are full of quiet and not-so-quiet surprises. How can gardens based on geometric shapes and planted in rigid allees of trees be so satisfying? I think it's both the age of the gardens, and the human factor - these old gardens have mellowed with time, acquired a patina over the years. They're softened and given human scale by all the tourists and locals that populate them, for the parks are filled with people sitting around enjoying the weather, the plants, the passing parade of people...
I've written a longer column about Parisian gardens for Pacific Northwest magazine in the Seattle Times which will run in a few weeks...in the meantime, here are a few perfect late September moments in Paris:
This expressionistic vegetable garden, complete with pumpkins and colorful fencing, was unexpected in the mostly formal gardens at the Tuileries in the heart of Paris: (All photos taken by me with my iPhone)
We came across this shady grotto in a corner of the Luxembourg Gardens - which to my eye was much more impressive than any of the more elaborate ornamentation and statuary at Versailles.
Ivy draped like garlands is reflected in the still waters of the rectangular pond.
The flower borders are both loose and formal, like these two in the Tuleries. The top photo shows pale blue little phlox grown to standards, interspersed with fragrant nicotiana and trimmed with marigolds and pennisetum (who would have thought that combo would look so good? Is it because it's repeated for such a long stretch, and set off by the simplicity of green hedging and lawns?)
I especially loved the watermelon-colored'Alma Potschke' asters (bottom photo) that I grow in my garden on Whidbey, shown here with Verbena bonariensis and the Louvre in the background.