I’m writing the first lines of these new monthly Chronicles on the first day of Spring. The weather is mild and the March sleet is in full swing, alternating between rain and splendid weather several times a day. This will do the garden a world of good (well, a bit of rain), but it’s not at all ideal weather for walking around Paris and the countryside with my cousin, who’s come from Washington to spend a few days in France. It’s no big deal, though, as she knows Paris pretty well, so we take the opportunity to chat in the cafés and tearooms we find, which offer us a pleasant refuge. March was a very busy month, with meetings and projects coming one after the other at work, the sterilization of the little cat who has decided to take up residence in the company’s gardens, sowing and planting at weekends, and the development of the Artisan Paper brand in parallel with all this… I’m glad that this month is coming to an end and that new, more creative perspectives will open up in April. And with Easter just around the corner, it’ll be a good opportunity to look at new bouquet creations and table settings to welcome back all our loved ones!
With these Chronicles, I hope to share a little more of my daily life with you and answer some of the questions I’m asked on Instagram in a more precise way, for example which varieties of flowers I sow/plant to then compose my bouquets. It’s also an opportunity to show you things I like or pretty places I’ve visited, without having to write a full article on the subject.
By the end of the month, I hope to have laid some foundations to get this year off to a good start, and to be better organized to share my wanderings on this blog on a regular basis!
If you’d like to discover a pretty, romantic country estate not far from Paris, in the Oise region, visit Chaalis, a former abbey that became the home of Nélie Jacquemart-André, who installed part of her collection here. The estate is charming, especially the rose garden in late spring.
You can also go there for the Journées de la Rose (Rose Days), which take place every year in June and feature this beautiful flower (and others). I always have a great time there and often come back with a new hat or two to add to my collection!
February & March seedlings
This year, I went to get my seeds and perennial plants early enough in February to make sure I had plenty to choose from. I found a lot more choice in Belgium and I’m planning to go back there next year.
I then plan the planting of different varieties of flowers in the different beds to have enough choice to compose pretty bouquets. The location is chosen according to soil, exposure, height and color… I don’t think I’ll have enough room, but never mind!
I’ll have to wait a little before sowing the cosmos in the ground, but I’ve planted the sweet peas under cover, and they’ve already grown well.
My American cousin knows Paris very well, as she’s been coming to visit us since she was 15 (she’s just over twice that now). It’s always a pleasure (apart from the shock of seeing the garbage piled up on Parisian streets (« it would NEVER happen in the US » she told me) to walk together through the streets of the capital and, above all, to enjoy the gardens that have that special Parisian charm.
We love walking and reading a book under the trees of the Jardin des Tuileries and the Place des Vosges in summer, but we love having a coffee in the Jardin du Luxembourg just as much, especially when there are no tourists this time of year!
We escaped the sleet but not the gusts of wind… Afterwards, we headed to Le Bon Marché for some pretty floral plates, and wandered through La Grande Épicerie.
Along with snowdrops, hellebores are the first flowers to appear in the garden at the start of the year. We’ve planted many different varieties in a variety of colors, although our preference is for white and pale pink. We make little bouquets and place them all over the house: on the kitchen table, on a bedside table, and on my desk.
Some are double-flowered, others single-flowered, and they brighten up our interiors in the most charming way.
You can find out how to make bouquets with hellebores in this short article below.
My literary selection of the month:
Beth Chatto's Garden Notebook
At the moment, I’m reading more books about gardening.
I particularly enjoy reading the diaries of English gardeners, and especially those of Beth Chatto, who corresponded for a long time with Christopher Lloyd, owner of Great Dixter (which I had the pleasure of visiting last year) and a great gardener himself.
A delightful book, with each chapter evoking a month of the year, which can be read and reread with great interest every year.
other notes from March
- A beautiful and interesting book Tables Prodigieuses by chef Pascal Balny has just been published, recounting his years as private chef to Baroness Marie-Hélène de Rothschild.
- A coffee break in the Jardin du Luxembourg is always pleasant, even in the wind. Remember to try Angelina a little further on next time.
- I raided Gibert’s literature and cosy mysteries department. I took the opportunity to buy a book on the Mitford sisters in the English section.
- Visited to the Monet – Mitchell exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton at the end of February (yes, I know it’s not in March, but I wanted to talk about it because I was pleasantly surprised).
- Artisan Paper’s recipe notebooks have been reprinted and are once again available online.
- I revisited the Château de Chantilly with my cousin, who loved it – it’s always inspiring, and I’d love to visit the Duc d’Aumale’s private apartments next time (I never find the time). The Hameau de la Reine was open, so we sampled the only real Chantilly cream there is. My motto is to always enjoy the little pleasures life has to offer. And Chantilly cream is one of them.