------ Louisa JONES
As a beginning gardener, exploring local history and customs with her students, she began to visit gardens in the area. Louisa knew the Romans had left their mark on almost everything in Provence, and that they had been great gardeners. But thirty years ago, people kept telling her that there were no gardens in Provence, apart from certain famous historic properties near Aix and on the Riviera.
For her first books, Gardens in Provence and Gardens of the French Riviera, Louisa visited some 300 gardens between Nîmes and Menton, of all kinds and from all periods. For her first books, Gardens in Provence and Gardens of the French Riviera, Louisa visited some 300 gardens between Nîmes and Menton, of all kinds and from all periods.
The Roman heritage, still predominant in the south, never made this separation between productive and pleasure gardening. And when fruit counts as much as flower, every season has its attractions. Today the Mediterranean way of life has become fashionable worldwide. The symbol of its success is the olive tree, worshipped—perhaps even too much at times—for both its oil and its year-round beauty.
Now, decades later, Provence’s best gardens - like its cuisine - rank with the finest international examples.
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The sun is out, bank holidays are in, we all want to go and explore, although this can sometimes be ruined by the dreaded mistral (p14). But let’s not spoil things. How about a visit to St Jean du Fos (p20) or if you’re feeling more urban, a nice shopping day in Avignon with a healthy tea break (p23) or a visit to an art gallery in Nîmes? (p17) If you’re feeling extra energetic like me, how about entering the Pont du Gard race on 30 June to raise money for a fantastic local charity? Also in this issue, the remarkable story of a simulated space mission by Claire (p18) and a very funny article by Bernice on her pathological inability (or so she says) to learn languages (p22).