When nature inspires…


Pick your perennials!


The nature trend is showing no signs of fading, but whether for outdoors or inside you must make the right choices.


When a new fashion appears it inevitably coins an idiosyncratic (and often inconsistent) vocabulary, so the French are “rewilding” their homes (filling them with plants) while the British “rewild” their countryside (restore wild nature) and “gardenistas” on both sides of the channel flex their green fingers! Whatever... plants are ubiquitous in recent stylebooks, and they're even turning bobo – yesterday's unfashionable pot plant is today's must-have greenery. But it's hardly a new departure. Media figures such as Stéphane Marie, who presents Silence ça pousse (Silence, they're growing) on France 5 TV, cottoned on early, aiming his programme squarely at residents of Rue Oberkampf (the heart of Parisian boboland) rather than of his native Normandy village. It's a far cry from gardener Mick with his hoe. But the important aspect is deriving pleasure from positioning your ficus, philodendron or yucca to its best advantage, like a piece of designer furniture. These old faithfuls we thought definitively relegated to aged aunts' drawing rooms are the new apartment stars.


Grasses and cacti come into their own
For those lucky enough to have a garden it's a different story. “We sell virtually no houseplants now,” says Franck Viale, who knows his onions since he and his family have been running their Pépinières Saint-Marguerite* garden centre since 1990. From the original few acres it has grown to cover 10 hectares and sells no less than 2000 species, which amounts to upwards of 100,000 plants in stock! Viale saw the new trend coming, and a market clearly split in two. “On the one hand you have big properties investing in exceptional products, for example this year we've delivered a 12m-tall magnolia, 80 years old!” Not to mention 23m palm trees, 13m eucalyptuses and more. “I've even a customer who has laid out a Japanese-style garden, where you'll see more bonsais than anywhere in Japan!” A sort of delusion of grandeur indulged in by the affluent seeking the uniquely special. “If it exists we'll find it,” Viale affirms. Those obliged to budget more reasonably are going for grasses, appreciated for their pretty colours, variegated leaves and graphic silhouettes. Cacti too are much in evidence, planted amidst pebbles or gravel so as to form a dry garden. “Needing little water or maintenance, this kind of planting is a logical offshoot of sustainable development.”