Monday, 12 December 2011


As the Christmas season approaches, the Poinsettias are for sale everywhere. Quite a few of us buy them every year. I tend to buy them just before Christmas, if I buy them earlier, I end up with a plant that has a few leaves at the top and the rest of the stalk is bare. What can we do to keep them looking nice, for a longer period.

First of all a Poinsettia, the Latin name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a native of southern Mexico and the north of Guatemala. A tropical area of the world. The first time I saw them growing in the wild was on the way to Fraser's Hill in Malaysia (a colonial hill resort), much like we see Oleanders growing in the central reservation here in the Var. They must have been imported into Malaysia during the colonial period. It was quite stunning, rows and rows of them.

The red bracts (modified leaves) and not the flowers make the plant so attractive. The flowers are in the centre of the red bracts. Nowadays through hybridisation Poinsettias range in colour from red to white. When choosing a Poinsettia make sure the flowers in the centre of the bracts are still closed, which means the plant is at the beginning of its cycle.

Here follow a few tips:

During transport from shop to home make sure the plant is well wrapped, Poinsettias do not like big difference in temperature.

Place the Poinsettia near a sunny window, room temperature max. 22 degrees C, dropping to 15 degrees C. at night. Avoid too much variations in temperature. Do not let the leaves touch the windows.

Only water the plant whenever the surface feels dry to the touch. Water until it drains out of the bottom, but do not let it stand in water.

In nature Poinsettias grow in a tropical climate, they like humid conditions. If your living room is too dry, you might find you have to water the plant daily.

After Christmas care:

At the end of the winter the coloured bracts will drop. Keep watering as mentioned above till March.

In April, gradually decrease the watering, allow the plant to get dry between watering periods. After about 2 weeks of the drying out period, move it to a cool spot, never less than 15 degrees C.

In mid May, cut the stems back to about 4 inches and repot in a slightly larger container, with new soil. Water it well. Place it in room near the window with temperatures around 22 degrees C. Continue watering when plant feels dry. Once new growth appears, begin fertilising.

In June the Poinsettia can be placed outside in a shaded location.

In July pinch back the new growth by 2.5 cm, to encourage the plant to branch out. Do the same in August. When the weather gets colder bring the plant inside and place it near a window.

In October to create the colourful bracts the plant needs to be kept in total darkness from 5pm to 8am each day for 8 weeks. During the day place the plant again near a window and continue with the normal watering and fertilising.

End of November, stop creating the total darkness, place the plant near the window.

December, stop fertilising about December 15th and treat it as you did when you first bought it.

Bibliography: Rustica, About.Com - Poinsettias

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

tulips, not too late to plant them

Most of us associate Tulips with Holland, which in a way is not surprising as they grow more tulips than anywhere else in the world, in fact 3 billion tulips annually.

The Tulip is not a native to Holland. The genus Tulipa (Tulip) grows naturally from S.Europe, N. Africa, W. Turkey to Iran and further on to N.W. China, but the centre of Tulip diversity lies in the Pamir, Hundu Kush and Tien Shan mountains. There are about 109 different species of Tulip in the world.
The very first flower that was commercially cultivated was the Tulip during the Ottoman Empire. It was a much loved flower at the Persian and Turkey's courts. Sixteenth century Europe was coming out of the dark ages and was interested in every new discovery and invention. When Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq (1522-92), a Flemish diplomat and ambassador to the Emperor Ferdinand I at the court of Suleiman de Magnificent in Constantinople, saw for the first time the Tulip, he was enthralled and immediately wrote to his friends in Europe about it. His guide had mentioned to him that the flower was shaped like a "Tulband" meaning round. Busbecq thought he meant the flower was called a "Tulband". In fact the Turkish name for the tulip is "Lale". We, in Europe, started off by calling the tulip "Tulband", then it changed to "Tulipan" and eventually Tulipa, which is still the official latin name for the flower.

Fringed tulip:
Busbecq sent tulip seeds to his friend Carolus Clusius (1526-1609), who was then the Prefect of the Royal Medicinal Garden in Prague. Subsequently he became the Prefect of the Botanical Gardens in Leiden (The Netherlands). Little did he know that the soil around Leiden was particularly suited to the cultivation of Tulips. The Tulip became an obsession for Clusius and by 1592 he had collected over 600 bulbs. One night many of his bulbs were stolen, after the theft he lost interest in the Tulip bulbs, but in the meantime the popularity of the flower had spread through Europe.

The annual Dutch National Flower Show at the Keukenhof in Lisse open from last week in March to 1/2 May:
The source of all todays commercially grown Tulips is considered to come from Tulipa gesneriana which was the collective name given to the tulips introduced to Europe from Turkey from 1554 onwards.

As the interest in the Tulip bulb grew, people started to speculate on the flower. It reached its frenzied heights between 1634 and 1637 when the highly prized "Semper Augustus", would

sell for 4,600 florins (guilders) in today's terms just over 2,000 €, plus a new carriage and pair, for just one single bulb of 'Semper Augustus'. We know now that the splash of colour on the Tulip flower was caused by a mosaic virus transmitted by the green peach aphid. The virus eventually destroys the bulb. Nowadays the virus is virtually eradicated from the Tulip fields. The multi-coloured Tulips we see today are a product of selective breeding.

Parrot tulip:
Most people treat Tulip bulbs as annuals, replanting them each year as out of experience they find that in subsequent years the Tulip becomes less and less showy. A Tulip is in fact a perennial flower, but why is it not acting like other perennials? The reason lies in the fact that Tulips originate in areas of the world with cold winters and very hot dry summers, our climate is quite different. The success of the Dutch growers has been that they have managed to ape the conditions the Tulips naturally like. They were lucky that when the Tulip bulb was introduced into Holland, it was in Leiden, an area ideally suited to growing bulbs. Today the bulb industry is concentrated in a narrow stretch of sandy soil just behind the dunes, the main area being between Haarlem and Leiden.
Professional Dutch growers subject the bulbs to a specially designed heat and humidity treatment each summer. This manipulation of temperature and humidity levels allows growers today to perfectly replicate the native conditions. By the time the bulbs are replanted into the soil for their winter sleep, they have been fooled into thinking they have just been through a summer drought in the Himalayas.

There are Tulips available that naturalise. These are generally specie tulips like Tulipa kaufmanniana, Tulipa fosteriana, Tulipa greigii, Tulipa saxatilis and Tulipa tarda and others that have not been cross-bred and consequently are very close to the bulbs found in nature. Here in the Var we have a native tulip called Tulipa sylvestris, 3-7cm tall, it blooms from April to May.
Among the hybrids that perennialise best are all the Darwin Hybrids in red, rose, orange, yellow and two-tone colours. Emperor tulips and some Triumph Tulips also perennialise.

Tulips can be propagated through offsets, seeds or micropropagation.
Seed grown plants show greater genetic variation, seeds are used to propagate species and new hybrids. Many Tulip species readily cross pollinate with each other. When Wild Tulip population overlap each other in an area, they often hybridize and create genetically mixed populations. Commercial Tulip cultivars are complex hybrids and normally sterile. Those that produce seeds have normally offspring very different from the mother plant. Tulip grown from seeds take 5-8 years before flowering.
Offsets and Tissue culture in vitro (Micropropagation) methods are means of asexual propagation for producing genetic clones of the parent plant, which maintains its genetic integrity.

Planting tips:
Plant bulbs in well drained soil. Wet soil promotes fungus and disease and can even rot bulbs.
Plant bulbs deep - about 8 inches (20cm) deep, measuring from the base of the bulb.
Water bulbs after planting, sufficient water is necessary to get them growing. Water is especially important after planting to make sure the bulbs develop a strong root system before going into winter dormancy.
In spring after flowering, take off the flower head, but leave the stalk and the leaves to die back. This technique puts the energy back into the bulb.
Fertilise the soil in autumn with a low nitrogen fertiliser like cow manure. If you replace your bulbs annually it is not necessary to fertilise as the tulip has its food stored in the bulb.

Planting in a container:
Fill bottom of pot with crocks.
Add soil mixed with sand for better drainage.
Follow planting instructions on bulb package, if they are not available, planting depth is 2x the diameter of the bulb.
Water after planting.

Garden Hybrids are divided into Early, Mid-Season and Late flowering tulips.
There are 11 different categories:
Earlies from mid April:
1. Single early tulips.
2. Double early tulips.
3. Triumph tulips: late April to early May.
4. Darwin hybrids: early to mid May.
5. Single late tulips from early May.
6. Lily-flowered tulips end of April.
7. Fringed tulips, mid-May.
8. Viridiflora tulips, mid-May.
9. Rembrandt tulips, mid May. The original Rembrandt tulips were affected by the mosaic
virus. These tulips below resemble the Rembrandt tulips but without the virus.
10. Parrot tulips, mid-May.
11. Double late tulips: late May.

Sue told me, she had heard that all parts of the Tulip are poisonous. I know, being Dutch, that during the latter part of the 2nd World War, when there was no food available people ate Tulip bulbs. I found many references to the fact that the Tulip is poisonous. In fact you can eat the Tulip petals, in a salad for instance, they are not poisonous. In the Dutch "Hunger Winter", the bulbs were peeled like you do for an onion, the yellow central part of the bulb was cut out (this is the poisonous bit). They were added to soups and even a kind of loaf was made with them. So yes, some parts of the Tulip are poisonous, but there are also edible parts.

The following are a few tips from Rens Korting (20 years experience as a flower arranger)on how best to preserve cut tulips:

1. Cut the bottom of stalks at an angle, remove outer leaf; put just 5 cm of water in the vase. The tulips have to work to get water, that makes them stay straight. Check regularly the water level.
2. Never put tulips and daffodils in the same vase, daffodils excrete slime, because of this slime the tulips start to hang.
3. In a bouquet with other flowers, cut the tulips a bit shorter than the other flowers; tulips grow in the vase.
4. When oasis is being used in a flower arrangement; first make a hole into the oasis with a stick, then the tulip.
5. During transport do not put the tulips in water, leave them dry.
6. If the tulips start to hang: wrap them in paper, cut a bit off the stalk and put them in water; leave them in a cool place till the tulips are straight again.

Bibliography: The Little Book of Tulips by Pamela Todd, Wikepedia - Tulips

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Visite de la safranière à Sillans la Cascade

Pleuvra ? Pleuvra pas ? Finalement il n’a pas plu et nous sommes allées à Sillans la Cascade.

Yannick Dolmetta nous a accueillies ce vendredi matin pour la visite de la safranière, il nous a parlé de son travail avec un grand enthousiasme et c’était un réel plaisir de partager ce moment avec lui.

La safranière est implantée sur la commune de Sillans la Cascade, 100 000 bulbes de crocus ont été plantés sur une surface de 8000m2 (soit une densité moyenne de 35 bulbes au m2). La safranière est en conversion bio, le fumier de chèvre est utilisé pour amender le sol. La récolte se fait entièrement à la main d’octobre à décembre, la cueillette s’effectue le matin quand les fleurs s’épanouissent, l’émondage se fait après la récolte journalière, les stigmates sont étalés sur des plaques pour sécher pendant 4 jours dans une pièce à 25° puis l’affinage dure un mois à l’abri de la lumière dans des pots de verre.
Les fleurs de safran sont laissées sur le sol après l’émondage pour les abeilles.

Après avoir admiré les fleurs, assisté à la démonstration de la cueillette, Yannick peut cueillir de 4000 à 5000 fleurs à l’heure, la moyenne d’un safranier est de 1300/1700 fleurs à l’heure fleurs à l’heure, nous sommes passées dans la boutique pour déguster la gelée de safran et faire quelques achats. Les produits sont en vente dans à l’épicerie Les Auréliades (le safran seulement) à Salernes, sur Internet ou à la safranière, vous pouvez aussi passer commande de bulbes de safran pour planter votre propre safranière

Safran vient du Perse "za'farân" qui signifie" jaune".

Le safran : crocus sativus plante monocotylédone vivace à bulbe de la famille des iridacées, de l’ordre des liliacées (ce crocus est très toxique) est l’épice la plus chère du monde et la plus « falsifiée » : son prix est très élevé : 30 à 40 euros le gramme soit 30 000 euros le kilo pour du safran produit en France. Cela s’explique par le fait que, pour obtenir un gramme de safran il faut récolter 140 à 160 fleurs de crocus, un kg de stigmates secs représente 140 00 à 160 000 fleurs.

Le crocus sativus est originaire du Moyen Orient, il a été introduit en France lors des Croisades. Il a été cultivé jusqu’à la fin du 19ème siècle dans les environs d’Albi, d’Angoulême, du Gâtinais (Boysne était la capitale mondiale du safran), en Normandie, en Provence et même en Suisse.

Le safran a probablement été d’abord utilisé pour ses propriétés thérapeutiques : antispasmodique, emménagogue, sédative, stimulante, tonique.

Le safran est aussi utilisé en parfumerie (le dernier parfum d’Armani en contient) et en cosmétique pour les pétales.
Le safran était utilisé comme plante tinctoriale (la robe des moines bouddhistes…), il existe encore sur Paris une femme qui pratique ce type de teinture.

La culture du safran :
Exposition : plein soleil sud ou sud-est, été chaud, hiver froid rustique jusqu’à -13°
Sol : léger, drainant, riche
La densité de plantation peut varier de 20 à 50 bulbes au mètre carré.
Plantation en août, récolte d’octobre à décembre. Le crocus peut rester en terre durant 3 récoltes, il faudra après l’arracher au mois de juin, diviser les bulbes et les replanter.

texte : Elisabeth BK , Michèle P photos : Gerda N

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Novembre Les conseils jardin de Jean-Yves Meignen

Les conseils jardin de Jean-Yves Meignen

Ce mois de la sainte Catherine reste celui des plantations, de la préparation du jardin avant le froid. Mais novembre n'est certainement pas propice à la taille des arbres. Il faut attendre une chute totale des feuilles signifiant que les plantes ont bien stocké leurs réserves pour le printemps suivant.

Au potager : petits pois et fèves sont à semer maintenant pour une récolte hâtive au printemps. Ces légumineuses sont conseillées en culture après des légumes racines tels que les carottes ou betteraves. Prévoir un voile de protection si les températures de l’hiver descendent en dessous de -5 °c.

La sainte Catherine, le 25 novembre, marque le début des plantations en racines nues pour les arbres d’ornement et les arbres fruitiers. Je conseille ce mode de plantation pour ces arbres qui formeront alors un meilleur système racinaire. Un trou profond doit être réalisé quelques jours auparavant. Prévoir 5 kg de compost : une partie à mélanger à la terre (ne pas le mettre seul au fond du trou) et une autre partie à épandre en surface. Il faut toujours bien arroser pour que la terre s’infiltre entre les racines. Puis pailler le sol.

N’oubliez pas les bulbes à planter pendant ce mois. Un choix très large vous est offert avec les Tulipes, Narcisses, Crocus, Iris. Bulbes que vous pouvez « naturaliser » dans différents espaces de vos jardins : au pied des arbres ou des haies, dans les massifs, en bacs…Ces plantes qui dorment l’été ne souffriront jamais des sècheresses ! Epandre un peu de compost en surface après plantation et pailler.

Les protections des plantes frileuses sont mises en œuvre : les plus sensibles comme les Hibiscus tropicaux sont rentrées en vérandas ou dans la maison sans trop de chauffage ; les « méditerranéennes » telles que les Palmiers et les Bougainvilliers peuvent se limiter à un voile d’hivernage (selon les climats) qu’il ne faut pas laisser en permanence mais seulement lors des grands froids.

Mais aussi :

· Composter feuilles mortes et déchets du jardin.
· Récupérer les chrysanthèmes de Toussaint pour les planter au jardin

Bon jardinage

Jean-Yves Meignen, jardinier de l'abbaye de Valsaintes,

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Au début de l'automne le Caryoptéris est encore en fleur et attire de nombreux insectes et papillons.

De la famille des Verbénacées (celle des verveines), le genre Caryopteris compte six espèces de sous-arbrisseaux ou de vivaces ligneuses, originaires d’Asie orientale. Deux espèces sont cultivées dans nos jardins : Caryopteris × clandonensis et Caryopteris incana.

Le caryoptéris est aussi appelé ‘Barbe bleue’ ou ‘Spirée bleue’ . Ses tiges droites et élancées atteignent rapidement 1 à 2 m de haut et portent de minces feuilles vert-de-gris aromatiques. Elles se couvrent de petites fleurs bleues ou violettes réunies en bouquets denses d’août à octobre. C'est un arbrisseau peut exigeant, qui supporte les sols calcaires, résiste au froid (-20°) et se ressème en abondance.

Le caryoptéris doit être taillé sévèrement chaque année au printemps pour aider à sa floraison et pour limiter sa hauteur, . Coupez les tiges au-dessus des bourgeons et réduisez le nombre de rameaux.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Tuesday, 20/9/11, Garden Group Meeting at Carolyn & Douglas

Our September Garden Group meeting was held at Carolyn & Douglas's house just outside Lorgues. It is a new house finished in February 2003, the garden "construction phase" took place between 2004-2006, the main plantings from 2006 onwards. To give an idea of how many plants were needed to create this garden (apart from a few existing old olive trees on the lowest terrace):

Trees: 19 Florentin Cypres trees, 2 Platanes, 25 Olive Trees - 4 varieties, Aglandau, Bouteillan, Cayon, Picholine, bought at La Tuiliere in Aups, 1 black Fig Tree, 2 Lagerstroemia and 1 Pine.

Hedges: 90 Leylandi 2000 (Gamm Vert Draguignan), 100 others - a mixture of Oleander, Viburnum, Photinia, Laurus nobilis, Eleagnus and Pyracantha.

Shrubs: a mixture of 145 Lavander/Lavandin - Lavandula angustifolia "Hidcote", Lavandula chaytorae "Silver Frost", Lavandula x intermedia "Grosso", Lavandula x intermedia "Dutch", bought either at "Filippi" in Meze or at the "Coop" in Les Arcs, 120 Roses (Meilland on line).

Douglas constructed his potager in 2010/2011. He designed it very cleverly. The way it was constructed seemed so well planned and practical that I asked him if he could write it down for us. The tubing, bits and bobs for the watering system were bought at Irrijardin in Trans or Puget, or Amitube on RN7, Vidauban. Douglas is very happy helping any interested party if they have some problems. Below are his wonderfully explicit drawings and advise:

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Roses, how can we improve our soil to grow them with greater success

It is now the beginning of September and when I look at my roses I can see that as usual the hot summer has robbed them of their vitality, almost all of them suffer from black spot, the leaves are somewhat yellowish, in short you can see they lack something.

Emailing Michele the other day, she mentioned she had visited her father and was admiring his roses. She asked him what was his secret. He said that in spring and autumn he sprinkles "Sulphur Soil" around them bought through the following website:
She then asked me whether I had seen anything like this in France. So far I haven't but I would like to ask our members to keep a look out for a similar type of product.

I started looking for more information on Sulphur (S). It is one of the 6 major elements (macro elements) in our soil next to Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Potassium (K). Quite an important element. Unfortunately for us, our alkaline soil does not contain enough Sulphur. The lack of Sulphur has an influence on the general health of the plant, plant is prone to diseases and indirectly "chlorose". Lack of Sulphur reduces the absorption of proteins hence the reduced growth.

Although it naturally occurs in our soil, we do not add Sulphur (S), we add Sulfate:
and then normally in a compound like:
Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) - the Magnesium greens things up, and the Sulfate acted upon by bacteria becomes (simplisticly) Sulphuric Acid. The average plant desires an acidic growing medium to enhance the ability of the roots to use any available nitrogen for plant growth.
Iron Sulfate - "Revised" is principally an anti-moss agent. If you live in an area with acid soil and you sprinkle Iron sulfate on your lawn it works in a similar way as Magnesium Sulfate, it encourages the growth and consequently the lawn turns a nice green colour, but only if you have acid soil, if you try the same on alkaline soil it will have no effect as the Iron sulfate becomes a "hydroxide" which is insoluble in water.

In previous meetings we have mentioned Iron sulfate as a cheap option to treat "chlorose" (a condition in which leaves produce insufficient chlorophyll) instead of the more expensive "Iron chelate". Iron chelate (chelated iron) is a soluble complex of Iron and Sodium and a chelating agent (chemical reaction involving a protein structure binding a metal element). As "chlorose" is a problem that occurs when plants that prefer acid soil are planted on an alkaline soil, there is absolutely no point in using Iron sulfate as this product cannot be broken down on alkaline soils, and therefore cannot be used to treat "chlorose". If we want to treat "chlorose" we just have to go for a product specifically aimed at treating "chlorose", there is no cheap option.

Copper Sulfate (Bouillie Bordelaise) - used extensively in France as a preventive measure against fungal and bacterial disease.

Lime Sulfate - used a lot in the U.S.A. and Canada in a similar way as Bouillie Bordelaise. It is a much more aggressive material but very successful in treating black spot on roses. The instructions on the packet have to be followed to the letter, protective gear like gloves and goggles need to be used.

Calcium sulfate (Gypsum), improves soil structure. It provides Calcium which is needed to flocculate (break up) clay in acid and alkaline soils. Gypsum decreaes pH of Sodic soils (soil high in Sodium).

All in all Sulphur, in its useable form Sulfate is very good tool for us gardeners, not only as a soil improver but also as a fungicide and pesticide.

Failing to find "Sulphur Soil" to acidify the soil, the recipe below acidifies, eliminates/reduces the chlorose and black spot problems and improves the soil structure by adding compost and manure:
Dig a trench around the rose, fill it with peat; add an anti-chlorose product; add fleurs de soufre, a highly refined powder made out of Sulphur available in hardware stores and garden centres; compost and manure. Repeat this once a year.
In addition add rose fertiliser twice a year.

Apparently when coal was being used as a fuel and the clean air act was not yet in force, roses suffered less from black spot. The following quote from Wikepedia explains why. Quote" Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel. Further oxidation of SO2, usually in the presence of a catalyst such as NO2, forms H2SO4, and thus acid rain.

Bibliography: Wikipedia; UBC Botanical Garden Forums; Cursus Kruidenteelt by Dr. K. Demeyer (VUB)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Les conseils jardin du mois de Jean-Yves Meignen

septembre 2011

Les conseils jardin du mois de Jean-Yves Meignen

La météo reste le souci premier du jardinier ; enfin par souci j’entends préoccupation. Nous devons rester très humbles devant la nature qui guide nos pas dans le jardin. Nous avons bien eu notre période caniculaire, mais en août cela a peu de conséquences car les plantes se préparent pour l’hiver avec des croissances très réduites. Pour beaucoup d'entre nous les récoltes ont été très hâtives avec des fruits abondants. Il faut se préparer au phénomène de « l’alternance » des arbres qui produiront certainement moins en 2012.
L’arrosage : un sujet qui revient très souvent dans mes conseils mensuels parce qu'il est primordial de bien le gérer. Vous m’entendez répéter qu’il faut arroser copieusement et de manière espacée dans le temps. L’eau doit pénétrer en profondeur pour toutes les plantes pérennes qui ont un enracinement profond. Ces plantes sont à choisir pour nos jardins provençaux. Pendant ce mois de septembre, à défaut de pluies conséquentes (minimum 50 mm répartis sur plus d’une 1h), il faut continuer les arrosages des arbres et arbustes surtout s’ils sont jeunes.
Une terre rafraîchie absorbe mieux l’eau qu’on lui apporte alors arrosez le matin !
Au verger : vous pouvez tailler « en vert » tous les arbres dont les fruits ont été récoltés. Supprimez les pousses trop vigoureuses depuis le départ des charpentières et réglez le volume des arbres pour favoriser la mise à fleurs de l’année suivante. Mais retenez la règle suivante : plus l’arbre est vigoureux moins il doit être taillé sinon il ne produira que du bois et pas de fruits.
Au potager : laissez les feuilles à vos tomates, aubergines et courgettes tant qu’elles ne jaunissent pas. Ce sont elles qui nourrissent les fruits ! Ne tentez plus de semis à cette époque. Les espaces qui se libèrent doivent être comblés par des semis d’engrais verts en optant pour la Phacélie ou la Moutarde qui rapidement occuperont le terrain, évitant le lessivage du sol tout en l’enrichissant.
Les plantes d’intérieur qui ont été sorties pour l’été peuvent encore rester à l'extérieur pour bénéficier de la douceur de ce mois de septembre.
Bouturez vos rosiers, hortensias, lauriers roses… pendant le début de ce mois. Prélevez du bois de l’année « semi-aoûté » : c'est à dire des pousses qui ont porté des fleurs. Leur diamètre doit être inférieur à un crayon. Taillez sous une feuille que vous enlevez et laissez deux feuilles au dessus. Préparez un mélange équilibré terreau et sable et plantez la bouture dans un pot mis dehors sous couvert d’un arbre.
Enfin, je vous conseille de stopper tous les apports d’engrais à la fin du mois, de tailler vos haies, buis et cyprès pyramide. Le gazon doit être tondu « haut » pour garder l’humidité du sol. Taillez les pousses vigoureuses des glycines.

Bon jardinage à tous……


abbaye de Valsaintes

Friday, 12 August 2011

Lavender & Lavandin

After our group’s recent visit to the distillery in St. Antonin I thought it may be interesting to our members to know more about the history surrounding Lavender and Lavandin essential oil.
There are three native Lavanders growing in the south of France. Along the coast Lavandula stoechas (with large petal like sterile bracts ((rabbit’s ears)), in the hills behind the coast up to 600 metres altitude, Lavandula latifolia (Spike Lavender) and in the Haute Provence, above 600 meters, Lavandula angustifolia, commonly known as Lavender.
Ever since the parfum industry developed in Grasse, farmers have been gathering Lavender in the hills of the Haute Provence. It was a cottage industry at the time. Families and later on itinerant workers from abroad would come in July and August to pick the Lavender. Very often the lavender would be distilled in an Alambic at the side of a field.
At the time Lavender was being picked by hand, it was mostly Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender), but between 600 to 700 meters, cross pollination took place between Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) and Lavandula latifolia (Spike Lavender). The gatherers did notice that some Lavenders were taller and the flower spike was larger, but they did not really understand the reasons for it.
As science progressed the reasons for the differences were recognised. They named the Lavender created by the cross pollination “Lavandin”, the official name is Lavandula x intermedia. Lavandin ,they realised, was sterile and could only be propagated by taking cuttings. Lavandin has an uneven number of chromosomes hence the inability to produce fertile seeds.
It was in the 1920’s in Grasse that the interest to produce new types of Lavandin grew, but it was Père Abrial , in the 1930’s, who produced the first Lavandin that became very interesting for the industry. The Lavandin carried his name Lavandin “Abrialis” . It became so popular that 2/3 of all the fields were planted with this variety. It started developing an illness, in French it is called “dépérissement”, a plant fatigue one could say and was replaced by a new variety, Lavandin “Super.” Nowadays Lavandin “Abrialis” takes up 10-15% of the Lavandin production.
The same illness started to affect Lavandin “Super”. The reason for this “fatigue illness” was the lack of crop rotation. When the Lavendin became less productive it was just replaced with new young plants. Nowadays several different cereal crops and a green manure crop are planted for a period of four years after digging up an old Lavendin field.
In the years 1972-1975 a new Lavandin was born. It was selected by M. Grosso, from Goult in the Vaucluse. It is a very large plant, with a huge flower stalk, producing lots of oil, in addition it is quite robust, it was called Lavandin “Grosso” after its selector. 3/4 of the Lavandin one sees growing nowadays is Lavandin “Grosso”. The plateau of Valensole is almost exclusively planted with the “Grosso” variety. There are other Lavandin clones less well known like 41/70, Special Gregoire, 33/70 and Sumian, but the previously mentioned “Abrialis, Super and Grosso” are the most important.
Although this development seemed very interesting for the parfum, soap and detergent industry, Lavandin does not have the same medicinal qualities as Lavendula angustifulia (Lavender).
Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) is nowadays produced in the north of the region, in the Diois, around the town of Die and in southern direction towards to Banon. In the Alpes de Haute-Provence around Digne, Barrême and in the Hautes Alpes, north-east of Gap. It needs an altitude above 600-700 meters to flourish well.
There is a cloned variety of Lavender called “Maillette”, which does not produce quite the same quality of oil, but is interesting to the industry because of its yield. Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) is sown.
The quality of Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) essential oil is measured in the amount of principally two constituents in the essential oil named “Linalyl acetate” and “Linolol”. For Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) the French Pharmacopeia states that it should contain between 35-55% “Linalyl acetate” to be considered Lavender essential oil.
Distillers located in high altitude produce oils of higher “Linalyl acetate” content, not only because wild lavender plants growing at high altitude contain more esters but also because of the fact that at high altitude the boiling point is lower. It is not 100 degrees C but perhaps only 92 to 93 degrees C. Distillation at lower temperatures produces a better oil, it could contain up to 70 percent “Linalyl Acetate”.
Essential oil from Lavandin, because it produces more oil, is cheaper than essential oil from Lavandula angustifolia, but it is not of the same quality. As an example, oil from Lavandin “Grosso” contains between 28-38 % “Linalyl acetate”, Lavandin “Abrialis” contains between 20-29% “Linalyl acetate”.
In addition all the Lavandins have inherited from their other parent “Lavandula latifolia (Spike Lavander) Camphor in their oil, which makes it less pleasant to smell. Where in Lavandula angustifolia there are only trace elements of Camphor, in Lavandin ‘Abrialis “it is 7-11% and in Lavandin “Grosso” between 6-8 %.
What makes essential oil of Lavender so unique, compared to say “Tea Tree” oil, is because it has a regulating effect on the nervous system. It balances and harmonises. It adapts itself to conditions, restoritive in cases of listlessness or weakness, yet calming in hyperactivity and agitation. In addition it has fungicidal, preventive and immuno-stimulant qualities although not as pronounced at Tea Tree oil. It can be used neat to treat burns, cuts and spots. Lavandin “Abrialis” is a good anti-infectious oil and has sedative properties.


Bibliography: “Lavande et Lavandin” by Christiane Meunier; Aromatherapy by Michel Vanhove

Saturday, 6 August 2011


Ce mois de juillet n’aura pas confirmé l’été caniculaire annoncé par certains météorologistes. Nous avons bénéficié de belles pluies pour nos jardins et de températures plutôt printanières. La plupart des plantes s’en accomodent fort bien. Mais certains légumes tels les courgettes ou les tomates exigent de la chaleur. Ils ne nous ont offert pour l'instant que très peu de fruits mûrissants.

· Au verger, taillez en vert les excès de croissance pour favoriser la mise à fleur de l’année prochaine.
· Supprimez les stolons des fraisiers qui épuisent les pieds mères. Vous pouvez les mettre en pot en vue d'une plantation en septembre.
· C’est le moment de greffer à œil dormant les pommiers, poiriers, pêchers et abricotiers.
· Plantez pour l’hiver au potager : poireaux, choux, salades d’hiver…
· Bouturez les fleurs des balcons : Géraniums, Scaevolas, Fushias… mais aussi les arbustes et rosiers du jardin.
· Tondez peu même si la pluie fait pousser l'herbe. Le sol sèchera moins.
· Les rosiers : si vous avez adopté notre méthode homéopathique, continuez les applications foliaires tous les 15 jours et de préférence tôt le matin. Taillez les fleurs qui fanent et les éventuelles feuilles tachées.
· Les annuelles fleuries vous ont fait rêver ! Semez dès maintenant les Eschschlozias, Pieds d’aloutettes, Julienne des jardins, Oeillets ou Roses trémières dont vous aurez glané quelques graines dans des jardins voisins ou amis. Elles fleuriront très tôt au printemps.
· Divisez ou plantez les Iris pendant ce mois d’août.
· Apportez un peu d’engrais organique aux plantes en pot pour soutenir la végétation jusqu’à l’automne.

Bon jardinage à tous……


abbaye de Valsaintes

Saturday, 30 July 2011

La Bastide des Garibo

La lavande est une plante noble et gaie, elle est purifiante, son nom vient du latin lavare qui signifie laver, depuis toujours elle est utilisée pour les soins du corps.
C'est aussi une plante de santé à la fois apaisante et vivifiante connue comme telle depuis l'Antiquité. Les Romains l'utilisent comme remède et produit cosmétique, ils en parfument leurs bains. Au Moyen-Age la lavande entre dans les jardins de monastère comme plante médicinale. Sédative et tranquillisante elle guérit les maux de tête, les insomnies, les problèmes respiratoires, apaise les rhumatismes, permet de lutter contre les refroidissements.

L'essence de lavande est extraite à partir du 15ème siècle.

Quand nous arrivons à la Bastide Mme Garibo a commencé à remplir un "vase" de lavande cueillie du matin. Les champs de lavande des Garibo sont à environ 1km de la distillerie et couvrent 3 ha.

La cueillette de la lavande se fait après 10 h le matin ou en fin d'après midi, c'est à ce moment-là que les huiles essentielles se révèlent. Il s'agit d'un lavandin abrial. Sur une vidéo nous voyons la cueillette de la lavande, M Garibo a "inventé" un outil , il a adapté une lame sur un taille haie pour rabattre la lavande coupée sur le côté. Il a un pied de chaque côté de la lavande et avance sur la rangée le dos courbé. C'est un travail sans doute très fatiguant. Un petit tracteur avance tout seul sur l'allée et toute la famille ramasse la lavande pour la lancer dans la remorque.

Lorsque Mme Garibo a fini de remplir le vase, elle referme le couvercle et la distillation commence. La vapeur d'eau de la chaudière traverse les plantes, les huiles parfumées contenues dans ces plantes se mélangent à la vapeur d'eau. Celle-ci s'élève alors et entraîne avec elle les parfums. Elle quitte la chaudière en passant dans un col de cygne puis dans un serpentin . La vapeur parfumée se condense et devient liquide. Ce liquide qui est donc formé d'un mélange d'eau florale (hydrolat) et d'huile essentielle tombe dans un récipient. L' huile essentielle, plus légère que l'hydrolat reste en surface, l'hydrolat restant au fond.

Conseils de plantation :

Pour que la lavande ait une belle forme et soit plus résistante, il faut la planter profond, jusqu'au niveau des premières feuilles, il faut l'arroser la première année, après elle se passe d'eau.

Bouturage :

Au mois d'août prélevez des tiges d'environ 10 cm, installez les boutures dans des godets remplis d'un mélange de terre et de sable, humidifez, rentrez-les en hiver. Lorsque les boutures ont des feuilles, elles sont enracinées, mettez-les en terre quand les dernières gelées sont passées.

M et Mme Garibo sont les seuls distillateurs de lavande du Var, c'est leur métier mais c'est aussi pour eux une passion.

Vous pouvez retrouver Mme Garibo sur les marchés de Lorgues les mardis et vendredis. Elle vend les produits de sa distillation : huile essentielle de lavande, hydrolat de lavande, des jus de raisin et de l'aïl.

M et Mme Garibo


Les Bas Saints

83510 Saint Antonin du Var


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