After the record temperatures reached last week in Paris we wondered how we would deal with it on our trip this weekend.
We watched the news and saw images of people flocking to the parks, fountains and the Paris Plage in an attempt to cool down. In a heatwave Parisians don't necessarily escape the city except to the parks - as it's much cooler under the trees.
One of my favourite parks is Jardin des Tuileries, its central axis provides an elegant promenade between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. Formal allees divide the space and are punctuated the by rows of manicured trees, grassy areas, ponds and flowery borders.
This park draws you in. There are benches to sit but the most popular are the green metal chairs which Parisians pull around the ponds or shady spaces under the trees.
We needn't have worried though, because the heat was short-lived and temperatures returned to normal and with that came the rain. As a result we found the parks rather deserted, chairs and benches abandoned offering an intriguing snapshot of park life.
This little compact shrub has almost woolly aromatic foliage, and I've just planted this to form a low hedge/edging plant in a gravel border. The soil is sandy with a little soil improver mixed in for a moderately fertile but well-drained environment that Santolinas prefer.
Santolina chamaecyparissus, known as cotton lavender, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to the western and central Mediterranean, so it does like a sunny position and will be drought tolerant once established.
At this time of year it has lovely small and cheerful button-like flowers in bright yellow, contrasting beautifully with the purple hues of the Lavender and Nepeta.
Today I paid a visit to a front garden I designed last summer - transforming a square patch of lawn into a swirling mix of grasses and perennials. It's a brave move for a client to replace an existing lawn with something more adventurous, but I am lucky that she is a keen gardener and so we went for it!
One year on and all the watering, weeding, mulching, dead-heading, staking and feeding... and sweeping... has paid off and the garden is bursting with joy and humming with insects. There's still space for parking the car, but it proves front gardens don't have to be square and green.
There are some formal elements, such as evergreen shrubs, low clipped hedges and simple linear geometry of the hard landscaping to see it through the winter months and give a sense of arrival to the front door.
The key bit of maintenance today was the Stipa tenuissima grass which had flopped under the weight of its seedheads. A bit of comb through its 'pony tails' with my fingers and it was soon billowing again!
There was lots to take in at this year's show - newly named and festival themed. With walk-through gardens, including the re-imagined version of the RHS Back to Nature garden co-designed by HRH The Duchess Cambridge and landscape architects Andree Davies and Adam White.
Other walk through gardens included the Viking Cruises Lagom Garden and the Thames Water Flourishing Future Garden where we could get a good look at the planting and a top-up of 'Thames' water in our non-plastic bottles.
A particular favourite garden was the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) A Place to Meet, designed by Cherry Carmen and built by 18 different APL member companies. There was some beautiful planting on display here contrasting with superb hard landscaping - the plunge pool looked especially inviting in the festival heat.
Garden Designer - creating beautiful outside spaces.