Salon Jardins, Jardin, at the Tuileries started under the rain but everyone was so happy that it took place at all after two years of interruption, that the atmosphere was very cheerful. There I ran into garden lovers from Fontaine Chaalis where the Journées de la Rose were taking place this week end and enjoyed the news that Jardins & Santé won a prize for their therapeutic gardens in hospitals. With the French Federation, Nature & Santé, run by Nicole Bres, more and more ecotherapies and hortitherapies are organized to help hospital patients with the contact of plants. And at Abbaye de Chaalis, a new route of antique roses has been planted besides the fabulous rose garden created a hundred years ago by Nelly Jacquemart André. The rose festival received more than 13 300 visitors!
In the last two years many people have rediscovered their gardens around the world and the soothing quality of plants and pottering around. It was particularly clear at the Tuileries last week where Chanel was showing their camellia farm of 2 000 species in the Landes over 70 has. The garden created by Pierre Alexandre Risser for (Re)naître, won the prize for Landscape creativity: it included a water fall and many wild species and Franck Serra, named Best French Landscape designer showed a garden with fruit and chestnut trees.
At Abbaye de Chaalis, 45 kms north of Paris, the weather had turned beautiful and thousands of visitors celebrated the new rose garden planted this spring by Alexis de Kermel the new administrator. It was a wonderful surprise to see this magical but slightly nostalgic place, be revived in such a poetic way. I went back to see the fabulous frescoes by Francesco Primaticcio in the chapel and rushed to the different booths of benches, roses, and Miscanthus floor covering.
Besides the aesthetics of the garden, a botanical wild rose path has been created (with the help of Crédit Agricole Brie Picardie) to save old species to teach the new generations to cultivate roses. I was very interested by the Myscanthus soil that prevents weeds to grow and looks very elegant. I also fell for iron benches in all colors produced by Jardin d’Antan near Noyon. They reproduce old style furniture which is very attractive and confortable.
What was particularly nice in this rose festival was the very low key atmosphere, wonderful people, many varieties of roses and clematites, and a very professional but personal organisation due to Alexis de Kermel, the new administrator. Fontaine Chaalis is a very special village where the mayor, Alexis Patria, has managed to stay away from building modern houses and has preserved its agricultural vocation. The Abbey of Chaalis was founded in 1136 and was particularly active in the Middle Age and the Renaissance when Primaticcio was asked to paint the chapel. It has always been very attractive to French kings who used to come and hunt there.
The festival of roses is over, but the rose garden is there and you will enjoy it very much. You can extend the day in Ermenonville where Jean Jacques Rousseau died and visit the town of Senlis nearby.
Paris-Fontaine Chaalis is 45 mns by car.
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