Sometimes I feel like a grandmother. While my friends like enjoying Parisian life on the weekend, I prefer driving to the countryside and work in the kitchen garden. That is probably the selfish reason I started this blog: to also meet people who have similar interests as mine. And one of my granny rituals is going to Plant and Flower shows. Because let us be honest: these show mostly attract retired people in France. Unlike England, caring for gardens (and country life in general) is not part of our culture. And being an Anglophile, it is something I really miss while living in France.
I like to attend the Saint-Jean de Beauregard plant show twice a year. It is not very far from Paris and this Fête des Plantes as we call it in French is of great quality. Set in the stables of a beautiful French castle, it is a lovely show to visit and it is gaining more and more recognition over the years. Also a nice thing to visit while being there is their huge kitchen garden.
Scheduled in the last days of September, Saint-Jean is for me the beginning of the fall season and I love watching my fellow amateur gardeners in their Dubarry boots and Barbour jackets hunting for little gems. The fall show is really the prettiest ones as there are pumpkin and tomato exhibitions and the maple trees have turned into a beautiful red, orange or golden colour.
There are so many nice things to find there not only for the garden but also for the house. I hope they will keep being selective because I do not like seeing soap or jewelry sellers in such a show. It should keep its rustic and elegant authenticity. But I love knowing that alongside plants, I can still buy beautiful pots or tableclothes for setting a beautiful garden table. I had a nice surprise this year with a stand selling Kew Royal Botanic Gardens pots. I can’t tell you how happy I was as we can hardly find them in France!
As for the garden, the fall show is always the best if you want to buy trees. You can find true beauties like Acer Griseum, Chiantus Virginicus or Parrotias that are quite difficult to find elsewhere (or unless you drive many hours). Simply because Saint-Jean attracts the best nurseries in France and Europe. I particularly like buying plants at Pépinière Botanique Armoricaine (they have a beautiful selection of ungrafted plants and are based in Saint-Adrien, Brittany), Hortensias du Haut-Bois (the best nursery for hydrangeas) and home / garden tools at Botanique Éditions.