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The Gardener's Year


With the garden hibernating, January is planning time. Lucia Latenstein from Les Parterres en Kit starts off with hardy plants for a sunny border, suitable for Burgundy's soil and climate.

Let’s design a new sunny border of hardy perennials to brighten up these dark winter days. Which plants will thrive in Burgundy's clay soil? Winters can be very cold here (-17C is no exception). To make things worse often there is little or no rainfall in July and August. For most plants these are stressful conditions. And who has time for careful maintenance of a garden these days? And what to do with the garden of a ‘maison secondaire’ in Burgundy? We must choose plants that love heavy chalky-clay soil, are fully hardy and resistant to drought. Also plants must be not too attractive for rabbits, slugs and sometimes deer. And to add to this already tall order, they must look good and must not fall over.

To identify the plants shown above, they are listed on the chart below from the top left corner.

Omnipresent in the (neglected) gardens of our neighbours are the orange daylily (Hemerocallis) and the yellow goldenrod (Solidago). Not very original, but they are a good starting point and of course we can always go for more interesting varieties/colours within the same plant family.

In my Burgundy garden I try not to water my plants. As a consequence I see phlox, asters, coneflower or black-eyed-susan (Rudbeckia) and Helen’s Flower (Heleniums) suffer in extended dry periods. Lovely as they are, you may want to stay away from these. Other plants are less suitable because they are quite invasive such as bellflower (Campanula persicifolia ‘Coerulea’). But ornamental grasses are doing wonderfully here. Very useful: cranesbill (Geranium, many varieties and colours), sage (Salvia), goat's beard (Aruncus), irises, tickseed (Coreopsis), yarrow (Achillea), catmint (Nepeta), wild marjoram (Origanum), Jerusalem Sage, (Phlomis), blue star flower (Amsonia orientalis), stonecrop (Sedum) and peonies of course! And let’s not forget vervain (Verbena bonariensis), it is not fully hardy, but self-seeds freely, and so it pops up in unexpected places (not everybody likes that but I do).

So these plants could well be the backbone of our future drought-resistant border in Burgundy. Plants marked with an asterisk on the list below I came across in my extensive garden library and on the Internet. They should well be worth trying. And since I find it hard to go without asters, phlox and coneflowers I looked for drought-resistant varieties. Here's what I found: Aster oblongifolia ‘October Skies’, Aster ericoides ‘Blue Star’ and ‘Pink Star’, Phlox amplifolia and, closely related to the amplifolia family, Phlox paniculata ‘David’. Also Rudbeckia missouriensis. I’ve put all these plants on the list and selected them by flowering period.

I’m going to try and make a border that flowers the whole year round. But we live here full-time. When you are in your ‘maison secondaire’ only during the summer you must of course choose plants that flower in the months you are there. I’ve chosen varieties in the colours that I like. Sometimes there are alternatives. Do feel free to ask me. Other questions are also welcome and perhaps you would like to share the plants thriving in your Burgundy garden with the readers of Burgundy Today, email: plantes@lesparterresenkit.fr

Clay Plants for a Dry and Sunny Place

Latin Name English Name
Achillea filipendulina 'Parkers Variety' Yarrow 100 cm 7‐8
Agastache rugosa 'Blue Fortune' Anise Hyssop 80 cm 7‐9
Amsonia orientalis Blue Star Flower 40 cm 6‐7
Aquilegia 'Ruby Port' Columbine 70 cm 5‐6
Aruncus 'Horatio' Goatsbeard 120 cm 6‐7
Asclepias tuberosa* Butterfly Weed 50 cm 7‐9
Asphodeline lutea Jacob's Wood 90 cm 4‐6
Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies' Aster 40 cm 8‐10
Centaurea montana 'Carnea' Cornflower 40 cm 5‐6
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' Thickseed 60 cm 7‐8
Dianthus carthusianorum* Carnation 70 cm 6‐7
Dictamnus albus 'Albiflorus'* Gas plant 90 cm 6‐7
Eryngium alpinum* Sea Holly 70 cm 6‐7
Geranium 'Rozanne' Cranesbill 50 cm 5‐10
Hemerocallis Daylily 70 cm 6‐8
Iris germanica Sword lily 80 cm 5-9
Limonium latifolium* Sea lavender 40 cm 7‐8
Nepeta racemosa 'Walkers Low' Catmint 60 cm 6‐10
Origanum vulgare 'Herrenhaussen' Wild Marjoran 50 cm 7‐9
Paeonia Garden Peony 100 cm 6‐7
Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' Switch Grass 120 cm 9‐10
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln' Fountain Grass 150 cm 9‐10
Perovskia abrotanoides 'Little Spire' Perovskia 120 cm 8‐9
Phlomis russeliana Jerusalem Sage 80 cm 6‐7
Phlox amplifolia Phlox 140 cm 6‐9
Rudbeckia missouriensis Coneflower 50 cm 6‐9
Salvia nemerosa 'Caradonna' Sage 60 cm 6‐8
Saponaria lempergii 'Max Frei'* Soapwort 35 cm 7‐9
Sedum telephium 'Matrona' Stonecrop 80 cm 8‐10
Stipa calamagrostis Feather grass 90 cm 7‐8

Next month: plants for the partially shady border. In March: How to make a planting plan. In April: how to go about realizing it.

Les Parterres en Kit Burgundy©Lucia Latenstein
Hameau de Fontenille
19, Rue du Ponceau
+33(0) 386 18 19 44 +33(0) 6 4015 4793