Monday, 5 October 2015

Dear British people. I'm afraid but...

...the French have the point. About gardening, at least.

In 2013, after having read a post on LinkedIn, where a British guy was telling how much better gardening in France was respect to UK, I decided to verify it in my own. In my experience when a Briton says that something abroad is better than in England it must be wonderful. Even more since it's about gardening. It's like when an Italian says that French food is good: it must be really good. And French food is good. 
That guy wrote particularly about public parks in Paris, so in September 2013 I travelled to Paris with my at that time girlfriend. I reported about that journey on this blog, in Paris to eat and Breakfast in Paris, but I focused more on the pleasure I had in eating again real food, food for the body and the soul. Something that in London hardly you can find except if you go for a meal in a place where, to pay the check, you must sell out one of your own kidneys. For a reason or for another, I delayed till now to publish the photos of gardens and parks I took in Paris.

The principal objective of the journey was to visit Jardin de Luxemburg, and the expectations were fulfilled. A second journey to Calais in August 2014 confirmed that the trend wasn't just for Paris, but I'll speak about Calais in another post. When, I don't know. 
As the inspiring Briton had said on his post, gardening in Paris was still something of whom the gardeners were proud. The first difference I noticed between parks in London and those in Paris is the number of staff committed to pick the rubbish up and that to proper gardening. In my working experience in London, at least 60% of time, effort and costs are for rubbish picking, busying the most of the staff in such a task all day long. While in Paris, thanks to a level of civility of the public which I haven't witnessed in UK neither in Italy (the chairs in the next photo are not chained or locked to the ground), only 1 gardener out of 10 was committed to pick the rubbish up. And it didn't keep him really busy.

The original post stirred a good number of comments from gardeners, designers and other people working in the horticultural industry, all pledged to defend the local gardens. The comments, all from people who have never seen a garden out this island, ranged from: "You should go to Regents Park. I was there last Sunday and at 8 pm the gardeners were still taking the rubbish away." (exactly what I said: the gardeners here have to take the rubbish away instead that do gardening) to more personal comments like: "I prefer our kind of parks, they are more natural." De gustibus no disputandum est. Nobody can discuss tastes, of course. But, well, in Paris they don't miss this gardening style too.

The second difference between gardening in France and London is that in France the parks and gardens are kept as they are meant to be, sticking to the original design, while in London the companies taking care of the green areas are not really interested in doing their job at the best. Pretty much in any park in London is possible to notice that where the plants died they have been replaced picking random plants, so that the original design is often going to disappear. And pruning is a forgotten art: in more than 4 years I've never been able to find in London a rose properly pruned, just to make an example. Big parks or small green areas around the cities, the commitment the French authorities got towards them is always the same: using a not mine expression "they didn't farm the maintenance to the best offerer" but pledged to keep them at highest standards.

I have just one last comment and don't take that too bad, please. The French are better to brew ale as well, sorry.

Bottoms up!

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