Monday, April 20, 2009

Le Jardin Alpin

The alpine garden. I passed through the little tunnel and found myself in a garden that was a half level below the ground around it. Curious that a garden for mountain plants would be below grade.

Part of the sunken alpine garden.

I suppose it was done this way so that the gardeners could build up the edges with rock beds and little cliffs without imposing on the aesthetic of the larger gardens all around. The effect was one of intimacy, and the only sound I heard was the chirping of birds. This garden was more English in style, in stark contrast to the regimented French garden that I had just left.

Mystery #1: purple and white flowers.

I wandered around a bit and noticed that many of the plants and flowers in the garden were examples of some that we have in our own back yard. Grape hyacinth, various sedums, and other little green and flowering plants. We hardly live in an alpine region, so I suppose that people domesticated many mountain species for home gardens, and some of them have naturalized in their new environment.

Mystery #2: looks like some kind of orchid.

A few other people were quietly walking around the garden; one elderly lady sat on a bench reading a newspaper. Two gardeners worked on weeding out a section. I was the only person taking pictures.

Mystery #3: a fern! But what are those green plants beneath it?

I couldn't stay very long, I had to make my way to the métro and head across the city for my lunch date. I think I spent about twenty minutes in all in the alpine garden, and it was quite a pleasant surprise.

Mystery #4: hells bells, some kind of lily?

I made no attempt to record or memorize the names of these plants pictured here, even though most of them were meticulously labeled with little metal signs. If any of you out there know what they are, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Mystery #5: a rhododendron, perhaps?

More tomorrow...


  1. I think the leaves under the fern in #3 may be columbine. The purple and white flowers in #1 are really beautiful.

    Goofy weather here this week. The high was 88 degrees yesterday, and today it's supposed to be hotter. Friday it's supposed to be 60 degrees and rainy.

  2. 1. Sweet Rocket, la julienne des dames in French, or some close relative.

    2. Looks like Himalayan Balsam. A frightful weed, I'm afraid, spreads along waterways and crowds out native plants.

    3. I think the leaves under the fougère are Fumitory (Corydalis).

    4. Strawberry Tree (Arbutus).

    5. Correct.

  3. Lovely photos, as always, thank you, they're a joy to see.

  4. The pictures are beautiful. Thanks for taking us on your garden walk.

    I think #4 is Pieris japonica - Lily of the Valley shrub.

    #2 looks like there is a spur on the back of the flower. Does Himalayan Balsam have a spur? I'd almost say it is a larkspur but the folage doesn't look right for larkspur. Was it really short? Maybe it is the bloom of the Corydalis?

  5. You're all awesome! I'm always learning new stuff on my own blog!

  6. 1. Might be close relative Honesty (Lunaria).

    2. Himalayan Balsam doesn't have a spur, but the front of the flower is wrong for larkspur too. The leaves are wrong for both, so I don't know what this is. Not corydalis flowers either, as the 'mouth' is much too wide.

    4. I think Marta is quite right about this.

    Walt: You are right about always learning stuff on your own blog. I find it works two ways. First, people tell us stuff, either in comments on the blog or by PM. Second, we quite often have to research a topic before we write about it, and it is amazing how much more you find out.


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