Herbs Before & After

before and after

July 31, 2016, posted by Gina – You may remember that in the Spring I was given some free Mojito mint and I wrote a post about it.  As evidenced by the photo, it looked dead. I am happy to report that it is growing beautifully in my yard and is so fresh. If I brush up against it that heavenly minty fragrance fills the air. I was warned by many gardeners not to plant the mint in one of my flower beds as it would take over. After much thought, I decided that having mint growing everywhere would not be a bad thing. Judging from the photo it will apparently take years before that happens but I welcome it.

herbs before and after

Around the same time, I purchased a few very healthy herbs and planted them in pots which they quickly outgrew. So, I planted them in the ground and while they do not look larger, they actually are.  They have grown unruly and don’t look as nice as the freshly planted ones in my opinion. But, more importantly, they taste great and really liven up many dishes. I just need to cut them more often!


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The Park in Bloom

climbing roses peach

May 24, 2016, posted by Michelle – Things are blooming in Lyon’s Parc de la Tête d’Or near our neighborhood. Since this is the time of year that the park looks its most gorgeous, I couldn’t help but assemble some photos to post. This park has a wide variety of plants and trees, a beautiful lake, a few greenhouses and several rose gardens. I also took photos of some of the beautiful homes that overlook the park.

Pink Roses wm


RED wm

Wildflower Pond wm

lake wm

Desert Palm wm

Maisons wm

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City Garden Tour

May 18, 2016, posted by Gina – Two weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of going on a wonderful garden tour consisting of five homes. I went with one of my neighbors and we were certainly inspired by the beauty and creativity on display in these gardens.

We began our tour in a well-established yard that had been added to little by little over the years by the owner. One of the great things in this garden was this tree house. Who didn’t dream of having their own tree house as a child? This one was perfectly perched in a large shade tree complete with shutters and a small deck surrounding the exterior.

treehouse wm

The next home had so many surprises in store for us. The beautiful Confederate Jasmine surrounding the garage doors inspired me to plant it in my own garden. The home’s dining room extends out into the lush, shady yard and its floor-to-ceiling windows allow the outside to come in, creating an especially dramatic space.

jasmine and dining wmIn the kitchen, a gorgeous floral arrangement in a beautiful iron urn was generously filled with coral, pink and white flowers.

flowers wm

This vantage point from the second floor overlooking the pool and lake made us feel like we were at a resort.  How relaxing would it be to have this to view from one of the many outdoor living areas?

wm view

There were several screened-in porches and open air patio spaces surrounded the pool. What an amazing backdrop for parties! Across from the pool we found an old re-purposed feed trough filled with small pebbles and a variety colorful of succulents. I just loved the ingenious creativity of this feature.

pool wm

trough wm

Finally, the fireplace really struck me not only because it is just beautiful all on its own, but because of the creeping fig which is yet another idea I now have in mind for my own fireplace.

fig and fireplace wm

We then moved on to another home where we found an almost life-size statue of St. Francis greeting visitors at the entrance of the most wonderful vegetable garden. (That’s me by St. Francis)

francis and gina wm

As we were finishing up the tour, we were left with this one lasting memory of these fabulous irises.

irises wm

We enjoyed every minute of our tour and look forward to the tour next year.  For now, I plan on putting on my garden gloves and getting to work!

We’d like to hear your thoughts and comments. Just click on the title of this post and the comment form will appear at the bottom of the page.

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Rose Garden by the River 1 comment

white roses

May 16, 2016, posted by Michelle – Bonjour everyone! I am posting a collection of photos from the beautiful rose garden (Roseraie de Saint Clair) in the park by my apartment. There are 150 varieties of domestic and wild roses in this garden that sits idyllically on the banks of the Rhône river. We’d also like to dedicate this post to our grandmother (1912 – 2010) whose birthday was May 16th.

rose collage

primrose path

first third

roses by the rhone

in bloom last third

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Outdoor Oasis

May 15, 2016, posted by Gina – We loved our new home the moment we stepped in the door and in fact, upon our first visit told our real estate agent we finally found The One after a two year search. One of the things that we really loved was the outdoor screened-in porch. It has been wonderful for entertaining and while we wouldn’t have guessed, a great place for teenagers to hang out. Our youngest son and his friends have spent countless hours on our porch and I am so glad they like spending time out there.


While the porch was love at first sight, the backyard was another story. There was no patio and not much landscaping. So, a priority after moving and settling in was looking for landscape architects and we eventually met with three different companies. The one we choose had great ideas for our patio area that included the addition of a warm and welcoming fireplace.


That’s Emma by the way, our house proud Lab.

I had not given the porch a proper cleaning since winter so it was way past due and this weekend was the time. It felt so good to clean everything up and put out a few plants to liven things up. It’s such a comfortable, relaxing spot for us and our guests to enjoy. When I finished cleaning the porch, I moved on to the patio. Once the fireplace and pollen covered patio furniture were cleaned, I freshened up the area with a few new plants and planters.

I have an array of colorful perennials in my yard and they take turns on being the star of the show beginning with camellias as early as January and moving on to azaleas, roses, hydrangea and iris in early spring then daylilies, agapanthus and chaste lilacs appear by mid-spring.

sweet potato vine

I planted angelonia, petunia and sweet potato vine in a few planters on the porch stairs. Before long, these flowers will be so thick that I’ll have to cut the sweet potato vine from time to time. I also put some some zinnias surrounded by burlap in a wire planter in another area. This makes a perfect, simple summer floral arrangement.


I will admit that I procrastinated but am so happy that the cleaning and sprucing up the planters is done…it basically gives us two outdoor rooms to enjoy. Summer, here we come!

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watermarked herbs

May 13, 2016, posted by Gina – If you are a regular reader of GDFC then you know that we have been working with a landscape architect for a few years now. The work has been done in phases and we will finally tackle the last phase in the fall. I am beyond excited about this final phase as it will incorporate four raised beds. So, next growing season I will try my hand at growing a few vegetables and one of the beds will be dedicated to herbs.

I am no stranger to growing herbs and even had success in our former yard that barely had a ray of sunshine. This past weekend I decided not to wait on the raised bed and planted a few herbs in some pots I had on hand. I selected rosemary, spearmint, basil and lemon thyme.  The fragrance from these herbs in my car on the way home was divine.

You know I love to cook and I will certainly use these herbs in plenty of dishes but I also like using rosemary in floral arrangements and spearmint in good ole sweet tea and other fun beverages.

If you’ve been thinking about growing a few herbs go ahead and take the plunge. They are really very easy to grow and are great to have on hand.

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Success with Succulents

May 12, 2016, posted by Gina –  Succulents have become very popular and it seems they are everywhere. I have been a fan of succulents for several years and just love their beauty and versatility. I work with them a lot and use them in arrangements, pumpkins and small planters.

Succulents have leaves that feel rubbery and are native to dessert type areas. The rubbery texture stems from the fact that they store water. They are very easy to grow and don’t need a lot of attention.

watermarked bowl

Last year, at the end of the summer season, my husband and I found a wonderful patio set for a great price. We set it up on our patio just before the fall. Now that warm, sunny days are here to stay I put a large bowl of succulents, pictured above, on the outdoor coffee table. I found a great container that coordinates perfectly with our outdoor set and filled it to the brim with succulents.

watermark francis

I had also planted a little container full of succulents and put it next to our St. Francis statue. Last fall it bloomed the most heavenly pink blooms that turned into an autumn red. This beauty is called Autumn Joy Sedum and is obviously a perennial as it returned all on its own. When I planted it it seemed like a variety that was familiar to me. I finally realized that this is the same succulent my mother planted around our mailbox when I was a child and it was there year after year. There are a few other succulents returning and peeking out just a little and can’t wait to see what they have in store for me.

A word about the St. Francis statue.  St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, led a simple life and believed that a love of nature could lead us down a path of peace and love for plants, animals and people.  To include St. Francis in your garden signifies it is a place of peace.

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The Green Way

pathMay 8, 2016, posted by Michelle – La Voie Verte (The Green Way) is a long trail that cuts a straight line through the highest point of Caluire et Cuire, a small suburb of Lyon where I live. It’s a peaceful pathway built on an old rail line where people run, bike, walk their dogs and just enjoy nature. Midway along the trail is a very well maintained collection of mini gardens that reflects the horticultural history of the area. There’s also a small vistor’s center with an interactive display and a refreshment stand inviting you to linger a bit 3Val Foron, located in the heart of Caluire, is one of only two remaining urban vineyards in greater Lyon. It was cultivated by Christian Brothers monks over 150 years ago and produces about 2,500 bottles of a Gamay – Pinot Noir blend annually. So, in the Voie Verte garden there’s a small terraced grouping of vines honoring Caluire’s wine making history. If you’d like to see the Val Foron vineyard and some of the dedicated volunteers who tend it and make the wine CLICK HERE (then scroll down the page a bit to get to the video) to watch a short report from August 2015.

wild vinesAfter WWI, community gardens became wildly popular as families could grow their own fruits and vegetables, including some local varieties like black turnips and cardoons. But Caluire  also has a long history of growing flowers and vegetables commercially. Up until the 19th century, wagons from Caluire brought vegetables as well as peonies, fuschias and petunias to Lyon’s large open air markets daily.

trioLastly, many religious institutions owned vast parcels of land in Caluire over the centuries. One type of garden found within these agricultural domains was called a “priest’s garden”. Usually laid out in the form of a cross, they grew flowers destined for chapels and churches, medicinal plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables. The mini gardens are a mini lesson in the history of Caluire!

P.S. – I couldn’t help myself from also taking a few photos of some of the houses, draped as they were in wisteria and roses, along one small part of the green way…


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Popping Up Purple

May 8, 2016, posted by Gina – I have always wanted daylilies in my yard and I finally have some beauties. Our former home had a very established, shady yard with large trees and Spanish moss dangling from every branch.  So, sun loving daylilies would not have been very happy in that environment.

Fast forward to our new home where we have plenty of sunny spots in our yard and I seized the opportunity to pop a crop of daylilies in a sunny bed. I chose all purple varieties and this week the blooms came out for the first time for the first time and I could not be happier.

The first and deepest color daylily is Purple De Oro.  The name of the second one just cracks me up, String Bikini.  Just take a look at its shape. Whoever names flowers must have had something a little stronger than sweet tea the day they came up with that one.  And the last with the lightest almost pink color is called a Purple Pinwheel.


string bikini

day lily

I look forward to enjoying these for years to come or at least until my Little Gem Magnolias get too large and shade my sunny area.  But a garden is forever changing and I think that’s what makes it so much fun.

If you’d like to leave a comment just click on the title of this post and the comment form with appear at the bottom of the page.

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Garden Grandeur

May 7, 2016, posted by Gina – This past Tuesday marked my Garden Club’s annual meeting.  Every May we host a plant swap and have a brunch to celebrate our year. Usually this event is held in a house large enough to host all our members and this year the home was just breathtaking.

I drove about 30 minutes from my house to the most beautiful, peaceful property. Upon turning off of the main road, I knew I was in for a treat and even stopped to take a few photos of the entrance to this stunning home. Driving down the winding driveway, I passed a pretty lake with a fountain and a thicket of mature trees until I reached the house which sat on the lake.

drive and lake

It was very crowded and I had to drive a bit to find a place to park.  I made my way to a parking lot of what I thought was some type of commercial building but was promptly told it was part of the property.  I wondered what it could be.  More on that later.

I exited my car, grabbed my plant for the swap and began my journey to the house. Upon entering, all I could think was WOW!  And that sentiment carried on throughout the whole house especially the enormous laundry room with a full bath that served the pool area which overlooks the lake. The home was filled with beauty at every turn from furniture to artwork to architecture.


The flowers and landscaping throughout the property were just perfect.  I loved the large row of purple Anthony Waterer Spirea.  My landscape architect planted it in my yard and I was just about to give up on it until I saw this hedge.  He was so right about where he placed it in my yard and I learned I just need to practice patience.



Now back to where I parked. I was taken on a bit of a tour of the property and the building I thought was commercial was actually held the homeowners 20+ antique cars.  Amazing.


Then we walked down a paved path to a chicken coop and as you can see it was not typical.  I loved seeing the chickens and marveled at their colors.  Continuing the tour we saw the boat house and the raised bed vegetable garden.

chicken condo

boathouse and raised bed

All of our members enjoyed spending time in this fantastic home and the hostess was so wonderful to share it with us for the day.

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