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 Bouleau blanc        Betula pubescens                     Silver Birch

Arbre mythique dans le nord de l'Europe en particulier les pays baltiques et la Russie, le bouleau blance est natif aussi des Hautes Alpes et de la Haute Provence et se plaît le long de la Durance.  Dans ce jardin 4 explaires ont réussi à atteindre leur pleine hauteur malgré la sécheresse.  Arbre médicinal, sa sève est récoltée pour ses propriétés anti-inflammatoires, drainantes, revitalisantes.

A mythical tree in Russia and all the Baltic countries, the Silver Birch is also native to the Alps and in Haute Provence can be found along the river banks and other damp places.  Four trees have bravely grown to full size in this garden in spite of the dry soil; they form the framework for the shrubbery (centre of this picture) between the 'Cool' and the 'Hot' gardens.  I planted them for sentimental reasons as my mother came from Pomerania (Where the hell is that, I hear you say).  Seen here in the Spring when the sap is rising.  The sap has well-known medicinal properties, particularly anti-inflammatory and tonic.

Noistier en fleurs                                                     Hazel catkins 

Side by side in the "Cool Garden" the hazel tree and the Blue Fir dominate this corner of the garden.  The hazel attracts squirrels, doves, redstarts (as a perch) and one year, a pied woodpecker which collected the nuts and cracked them against a fork in the apple tree, using it as an anvil !

Favourite dessert: Hazelnut meringue filled with cream and raspberries.

Pommier sauvage en fleurs                     Wild apple blossom

Sapin bleu                                                                         Blue Fir

Planté en 1994, cet arbre domine le "Jardin frais" et fait le bonheur des tourtourelles qui y nichent et élèvent leurs poussins.

The tree was about 2 ft high when it was planted in 1994.  Two years later it had an accident when cows were let into my garden: they broke the head off the tree.  Perplexed, I left it for another 2 years, then noticed that of 2 side branches, one was raising itself like an arm above the other.  I lopped off the lower one; and the dominant one became the new central trunk of the tree.  Looking at the mature tree now, it is impossible to tell the difference.  I learned that trees have a "memory" of their proper shape!

PS.  I do NOT like this tree being referred to as a Christmas Tree !

Ornamental currant


Planté par mon prédecesseur, se trouvait autrefois près de la véranda.

Planted by my predecessor near the veranda, I moved it to greet the visitor on arrival on the top lawn.  Often subject to late frosts.

Viburnum (cultivé)

Cette variété est cultivée mais des variétés sauvages sont très fréquentes sur les rives chaudes de la Durance, à proximité.

Wygelia (cultivé)

Un buisson cultivé pour sa grâce et son parfum.  Très apprécié par les pollonisateurs !

Planted for its fragrance.  Particularly attractive to pollinating insects (see the bee laden with white pollen at the top of the picture).

Profusion du mois de juin                                          Shrubbery in June

L-R  Silver Birch, Blue Fir, Lilac, wild Apple

Foreground: Rose de France and Ladies' Bedstraw perfume the air

Couleurs d'automne                                  The shrubbery in autumn

L to R: Cypress, Silver Birch, Viburnum, Old Man's Beard, Blue Fir, Lilac

Cypress: Planted as a windbreak and to give the garden some shape.  The resident flock of sparrows have taken over these trees as their family tower block.  Unfortunately this species is being ravaged everywhere by a viral disease which turns the foliage brown and eventually kills the plant.

Silver Birch: see separate panel

Viburnum: This is the cultivated V. opulus or Snowball Tree.  Locally different varieties of viburnum can be seen in the wild, so this was planted to draw attention to that fact.  I have also successfully transplanted a wild variety, V. mariesii, which has flat clusters of white flowers in June.

Old Man's Beard: see Wild Clematis on the 'White' page

Blue Fir: This tree was given to me by my parents as a small sapling in 1994 at the start of the garden.  My mother took an interest in little else!  The tree suffered an accident when a neighbouring farmer - the same man who had helped me plant it - let his cows into the garden and a cow broke off the crown of the tree.  Perplexed, I thought of trying to graft a crown back on, but after a couple of years I noticed that 2 side branches were raising themselves like arms above the missing head.  One was growing higher than the other, so I cut the lower one off and let the higher one continue to raise itself.  Eventually it formed a new central trunk and the tree regained its proper shape.  The tree is now (2021) over 20 m. tall and is the main feature of the 'Cool Garden'.  It has been adopted by a pair of ring doves as their home: they nest and raise their chick there, sometimes pestered by magpies or starlings.  Goldfinches like to claim the pinnacle in the spring to sing their love of life.

Lilac: I took cuttings from old bushes in the field opposite my house and used them to mark out the garden plan in the early stages.  All have done well.  This bush shades the steps between the top lawn and the Cool Garden.

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