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Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post.  I had good intentions of doing this religiously, staying disciplined, on target and on task.  Ha!  Why should blogging be any different than anything else in my life?  Lately I’ve found it much more fun to read other blogs.  There’s some very funny people out there.  I feel like a bit of a stalker….you read one funny post, then you read the comments, and they’re funny too, so you link to one of the commenter’s blogs, and it’s funny, and so on and so on.  You get to know some of the names, and you feel like you’re part of the group, but really, you’re just kinda spying.  Oh well, it’s fun.  Before you know it, your computer time is all gone and you haven’t even thought of a good excuse for not blogging.  But I do have a good excuse, really I do.  I wanted to blog about my garden, but my camera’s not working, so I can’t get any current pictures. My camera kicked the bucket on my recent holiday to France.  My good friend lent me her spare camera while we were away, so I used that for the trip, but I still haven’t gotten around to getting the problem with my camera worked out.  (I’ve been too busy reading other people’s blogs, for one thing.)  So instead of doing a post about my garden, I’m going to do one about my trip. Oh yea, being on a two week trip is another excuse for not blogging.

Now, my trip to France was actually a garden tour!  Yes, indeedy.  I ran away from home with a girl friend, and left my hubby, boys and cats to fend for themselves. We went for two weeks on a tour arranged by Steve Whysall, a garden columnist for the Vancouver Sun.  Steve and his lovely wife Loraine were the hosts on the trip, and it was fabulous.  We saw many beautiful gardens, met a lot of nice people, sampled too many delicious pastries and too much ice cream, and washed everything down with a lot of wine.

The first garden we visited, on arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport, after an endless, crowded  flight from Vancouver, with a two hour stop over in Calgary, and a long drive in Friday rush hour traffic in Paris, was Parc de Bagatelle. This is a park now owned by the City of Paris.  I can’t remember too much of the story, because by this point we’d been up a very long time without sleep.  We saw the sunrise over Greenland. This amazed me.  Day meets night.

(Did you know that after 48 hours without sleep, your body releases a chemical similar to LSD?)  The one thing I do remember, however, is that the chateau in this garden was built as a result of a bet.  Marie-Antoinette (she of the “let them eat cake” fame) bet her brother in law, the Comte d’Artois (who bought the property in 1775), that the chateau he was planning on building (replacing the original, which had been torn down), could not be completed within three months. The Comte won the bet, completing the house in 63 days (or thereabouts, you know how french time works).

Before this new chateau was built, Bagatelle was a hunting and playground for the rich and famous of France (i.e. the Kings).  The chateau and park barely escaped obliteration during the French Revolution. The City of Paris bought the garden in 1905 and entrusted its head gardener, Jean-Claude-Nicolas Forestier, with the restoration work. He set out to beautify the gardens without changing the harmony of the existing layout.  He turned subsistence crops into beautiful displays of perennial flowers, and also designed the well-know Roserie de Bagatelle.   It is in Bagatelle that classical concerts are often held, and the highlight of the year is in June, when the Rose Exhibition takes place, an international competition for new roses which has been held in the city of Paris every year since 1907.

In Bagatelle, the peonies were out in full force, and we rested on the benches that lined a lovely section of the garden that was filled to overflowing with all imaginable varieties. We snacked on yummy baguettes we had scored at a delightful Patisserie. We sat in the sun and felt the warmth on our pasty white Vancouver skin, and breathed in the most intoxicating air. Ah, simple pleasures are the best!

One side of the garden was lined by a very tall brick wall.  It was here the climbing roses and clematis were trained up an amazing trellis.  It was rose, after rose, after rose, each one a new favorite.  A hot, sunny location, and these were all thriving.

The garden surrounding the pavilion was so picturesque.  Beautifully groomed, with alliums blowing up everywhere.

Then we wandered into the formal rose garden.  Here there were giant structures made out of rebar to support the climbing roses.  (Of course this means I’m going to have scads of rebar sitting around my garage for the next five years waiting my attempts to copy same supports.)  There were so many varieties, and everything was beautifully maintained.  The building you see in the background is not actually the chateau (somehow I managed in my ignorance not to get any pictures of the actual chateau), but it might the the orangerie.  Trust me, I’ve tried to research this further by Googling the garden and stuff, but most of the websites are in french, and Google Translate (much as I depend on it) basically makes a mess out of the translation, confusing me further.  So, I might be making this up, but let’s say the orangerie is where they overwintered all the orange plants.  It also would be a great place for a big party.  One big room, lots of windows, overlooking a garden.  Martha would definitely entertain here.

So there you have it.  A new post filled with photos and semi-made up history.  I never did find out what Marie and her brother-in-law wagered, but in a country where the guillotine was invented I’m thinking you don’t want to lose too many bets.

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