vertical gardening – encore

September 9, 2012

In Rocquebrun, almost 5 months on from the last visit to the Jardin Méditerranéen, I was expecting to be rocked by exotic colour. A touch of something to come in the streets way below the garden  from a bougainvillea draping itself lazily over a wall and completing the composition of the view to the bell tower. The bells pealed and many cars with foreign, mostly British plates, swept in to the village to celebrate an ex-pat wedding – thought for a minute that I was on the set for a remake of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Some more colourful planting in Rue sous les Fenêtres as an appetiser . . . .

. . . but I clearly was mistaken to think that this garden would be a carnival of colour. Instead green and more green but many different foliage surfaces mean different tones of green. Looking back to the post on the visit in April (has some factual info that I’m not repeating again), I read that the harsh weather of late winter had knocked back many plantings – foliage was looking browned off and fed up – still signs of this on aloes, agaves and acacias. But the strength of the architectural form and the combinations of form, habit and texture make this a powerful experience in its own right.

Plenty of new buds on the mimosas . . .

. . and a flavour of how the precipituous journey on sloping paths and narrow steps through the exotic and succulents and on to the botanical path of cistus and mimosa collections   . . .

. . .  to 150m above the River Orb. The rock face housing the garden is sheltered from the north, east and the weather from the west  . .

. .  the highest part, The Mediterranean Orchard, is inhabited.

My search for flowering plants rests here with cactus. In truth, the opuntia fruits are just colouring up and bits of caprobrotus and lampranthus showed a few flower heads – just a visit at a quiet time; a flowering siesta.

Like these babies tucked out of harms way and a new plant to me, labelled as Haworthia fasciata. Mmmm, not so sure . . .

. . .  massive heat is retained within this volcanic intrusion – hence the choice of poem.

Over the surging tides and the mountain kingdoms,
Over the pastoral valleys and the meadows,
Over the cities with their factory darkness,
Over the lands where peace is still a power,
Over all these and all this planet carries
A power broods, invisible monarch, a stranger
To some, but by many trusted. Man’s a believer
Until corrupted. This huge trusted power
Is spirit. He moves in the muscle of the world,
In continual creation. He burns the tides, he shines
From the matchless skies. He is the day’s surrender.
Recognize him in the eye of the angry tiger,
In the sign of a child stepping at last into sleep,
In whatever touches, graces and confesses,
In hopes fulfilled or forgotten, in promises

Kept, in the resignation of old men –
This spirit, this power, this holder together of space
Is about, is aware, is working in your breathing.
But most he is the need that shows in hunger
And in the tears shed in the lonely fastness.
And in sorrow after anger.  Elizabeth Jennings  A Chorus

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