We, at La Mouissone, are delighted to have been invited by plant explorers Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones from Crûg Farm Plants to participate in their stand at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Wynn-Joneses will be taking inspiration from a formidable plantswoman born 160 years ago, Miss Ellen Willmott, and the focus for the theme of the stand will be on her former renowned Mediterranean garden at the Villa Boccanegra, on the Italian Riviera.
La Mouissone is a much younger still-developing garden within an olive grove, as was Ellen Willmott’s. It has evolved, as the earlier Mediterranean gardens did, through a historical and modern day eclectic mixture of British influence. Gardens such as Serre de La Madone, the Hanbury Gardens, and Villa Boccanegra have provided inspiration and information on the choice of plants available in this difficult climate and challenging terrain.
Maggie Lockett is a keen supporter of Crûg Farm Plants and is building up displays at La Mouissone of Crûg’s plant collections. The Chelsea stand will highlight some interesting plants for the most difficult of garden environments, dry shade. Unusual forms of Ophiopogon, and newly discovered species of Aspidistra and Ruscus will be planted under the flamboyant architectural foliage of Oreopanax.
Our friend Jessica September Buchanan, the Perfumer, has a new boutique in Grasse. Do make sure you pay her a visit: 4 Place aux Aires, 06130 Grasse.
Sally McCarrick, a young talented gardener from the Republic of Ireland has recently joined La Mouissone as Head Gardener for the management and development of our own Gardens within the Olive Grove.
Sally has a strong interest in Mediterranean Gardening, having spent some time at Tresco Abbey Garden on the Isles of Scilly, Britain’s most notable sub-tropical garden. With her great knowledge of Mediterranean climate plants, and gardening practices, she is sure to bring a wealth of new ideas to the gardens.
Sally will also be guiding some of our garden visits, so why not come to meet her and view our new plantations!
It is usual in the Mediterranean to experience a couple of months in the summer with temperatures around 28°C and little or no rain, but this year has been much hotter and for longer than usual. We had temperatures over 30°C on 30 days during June, July and August.
We had only 35 millimetres of rain between the beginning of May until the end of August, compared with 90mm in 2016.
In the garden, we noticed that even though the lawns and plants were getting enough water, they slowed down or stopped flowering and fruiting as in ‘normal’ years because of the extreme heat and sunshine. Plants from tropical countries, however, such as Cannas and Gingers, responded well.
The gardens provide a photogenic and stylish lifestyle location for all types of visual media. Recently, an episode of the popular French TV series Section de Recherches was filmed at La Mouissone.
This summer, we were delighted to count Nathan Followill of the group Kings of Leon and his family, amongst our VIP visitors.
Here are some pictures of our most enterprising visitor, only known to us as Serge. He came on a rainy day at the end of March. We were very nervous because he is quite severely restricted in terms of mobility. However, his team of enablers and their equipment put our misgivings to shame.
The transporter is called a ‘joëlette’ and can also be attached to a motorised cycle. The team has even taken handicapped people up to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro – three times!
The visit was arranged by Isabelle Chemin of Chemindessens. This is an organisation which aims to facilitate visits for the handicapped to heritage sites.
This eight-acre estate in Provence was too good to keep in the family — so now it pays its way with public visits and garden produce.
© Sunday Times, Caroline Donald
© Le Figaro, Parmarianne Morizot