from a promising student

This post was written for an essay by K. B., one of my students. I loved  his true and keen interest in the world of plants. My students had to write a short text on ‘Autumn Colours’, and this is what he handed me over :

“Many plants change colours during this season, and the gardeners like thses colors in the landscape and garden.

They are long-lived, many love the autumn because they choose this season for flowering like anemones, cyclamens, violas, bellis… and it’s often a good idea to forget the loss of the summer.

Many shrubs are very interesting for their bark colour, like the Cornus. Cornus alba ‘siberica’ has a red bark Kesselringer has an ebony bark.

Calicarpa gives beautiful mellow fruit ; many evergreen shrubs have beautiful cultivars with beautiful leaves like Erioymus europeus ‘arlequin’ and also Nandina domestica ‘fire power’.

Calicarpa at the lycee, just starting fruiting !

Many trees are interesting because leaves change colour like Pyrus caleryana ‘chantecleer’. It’s an ornemantal pear tree and its leaves become a mix of pink and red. Also, Tilia cordata has soft yellow leaves.

Pyrus caleryana ‘chantecleer’ in the park of the lycee

To finish, there is a rare and beautiful tree, Prunus subhirtela ‘automnalis’ rosae, with double white flowers at the end of the autumn.”

admirable flower of Prunus-subhirtella-Autumnalis-Rosea

Prunus subhirtella in situ


So this is the end of his essay, but I must say I expected  to read a text on blazing landscapes firing reds and oranges and yellows… well everybody gets to learn better every day !

Dec 1, 2012

work placement for landscape design students

Work experience is an important part of the qualifiation in the Higher Vocational Training in Landscape Design that we teach at Lycée horticole de Lomme.

The students go for 16 weeks split into 3 periods over the two years that their qualifiation takes. From Monday April 2nd, they will be gone for 6 weeks in various firms all over the region or, for some, in their county of origin – the south, the west, Paris area… Some will be on site – managing a team. Others will be in a landscape architect’s office – working on computer assisted drawing.

So dear students, here is a little note for you as you’re about to leave, and thank you for sharing you feelings.

Enjoy and do come back some time in May !

Alexis said : “I hope to be integrated into a good team. I’ll be on site – I expect to be tired, but I’m sure to live a great experience.”

Kevin, the Southerner confided : “I’m going back to Carcassonne. I love being there, it’s sunny and hot. I’ll be on site. The company specializes in private gardens, with rockeries, and planting around swimming-pools lots of Mediterranean plants.”

Sébastien exclaimed : ” I’m very excited ! I’ll be on site, but I don’t know yet the project I’ll be working on. It’s a familybusiness, my uncle runs the company. ”

Valentin said : “I am a bit anxious because I don’t know how things are going to develop. I’m scared not to have anything to do which is interesting. To be a trainee is not an easy position.”

Laurent wishes “to learn new things. I’ve already worked as a trainee in a firm before. It was a landscape company too, so I have some experience. I’m quite happy.”

Pauline expects “to discover landscape tehniques. I’ll be working on computers, making drawings with the help of a landscape architect. I’ll also make visits on site. The project is about the revamping of a car park in Lille city centre.”

Edouard : ” I feel good. But I’m also not too quiet about this work placement because I have problems with the use of computer programmes. The trainer seems to be a nice man, I’ll be within a team of 6 people.”

Héloise : “I’ll be in Lille. I don’t know the project but I go with Coralie. The trainer said he wanted to give us the best of his experience.”


Mar 29, 2012

clang bang pshiiiit

Strange noises were produced last week as one class of students were busy preparing two displays for our OPEN DAY ON May 12th.

The first one is about the beginning and the end : a strange tree made of cardboard, plastic, material… will rise above a hole spiralling up and sending mud roots at the surface.

Here the mud hole










There the base of the artificial tree being put together and secured :







And finally the two united :

While in another part of the lycée, some clearing was under process :











Before a graph artist painted the wall afresh… and the students planned the plant display to accompany the graph. The completed design will be visible later in April !

See you then…


Mar 25, 2012

work experience in New Caledonia

Quentin, 20,  undertook a trip to New Caledonia and stayed for 5 weeks in Noumea last November. He worked for a firm specialized in the maintenance and creation of gardens. They do various jobs like creating ponds, planting (palms, flamboyant, herbs, fruit trees – mango, litchi, banana, corossol, frangipanis…), fencing and the usual maintenance tasks : pruning, mowing, weeding…

Quentin worked more especially on fencing :

– one was a wooden fence : it surrounds the town sports field at Dumbea sur Mer









– the other one was a wire fence for a public garden, still at Dumbea sur Mer   







He worked in a team of 3 people from 6.30 to 11 am and from 12 to 3.30pm. At lunchtime, he would have a sandwich which

was kept in a coolbox and wash it down with a lot of water – the heat was intense for a recently imported zoreille !

After work, the day was spent with family and friends, strolling on the beach, or through the town. A few pics of what life was like over there…


splish splash splosh

scuba diving in a natural pool on the Pine Island












natural pool on the Pine Island












Dec 11, 2011


chiquita mi corossol*, chiquita chiquita….

oh oh oh I got carried away there… Writing the name of that tropical fruit, and knowing from experience the good the juice you press from it does to you, I had this Spanish song come to my head (*mi cora son in the original version) , and I bet it’s going to take a while before I get rid of it !

The fruit of the corossol tree, Annona muricata, can be 30 cm long and weigh up to 2.5 kg.

Its shell is covered with spikes and the flesh is white with black seeds that are not edible – although I’m not sure I wasn’t served some seeds with the juice last time I drank some … my close relations know why I mention this bit !

It tastes sweet and sour. It is rich in glucides, especially fructose, vitamine C, B1 and B2. It is mainly used to make ice-cream in food factories.

The leaves, flesh and seeds are used for their medicinal properties.

Quentin and I were able to drink corossol juice when we travelled to Madagascar in November 2010. For more gorgeous photos and the story behind that trip, see my other blog

Dec 6, 2011

the flamboyant tree

When Quentin showed us his diaporama on his work experience in New Caledonia, I recognized this tree immediately, having a photo of Mike and myself  under a fine specimen, on the Carribbean island of Antigua, where we got married in 1997… Souvenirs, souvenirs… We were actually looking for shade under the blazing sun, as the photographer was busy shooting the guests, and it proved really efficient !

The flamboyant tree, Delonix regia, is endangered in the wild, like in the Madagascar dry deciduous forests, but widely cultivated in tropical or semi tropical areas.

It is noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. It is useful for the shade it provides as it grows not very high, but spreads widely. In Asia, in Thailand particularly if I’m not mistaken, it is called the ‘pupil tree’, as the flowering season corresponds to the end of the school year. Tanntoot, when you read this, can you tell us if that tree has a particular importance in Malaysia ?

In New Caledonia, the flowering season lasts from November to February.

Quentin was there for us to capture its flamboyant beauty – enjoy !

Dec 3, 2011

tree frogs

I believe you’re going to find this pair appealing !

Caught in a papaye tree in New Caledonia last November, they seemed quite unconcerned by the overexcited zoreille who was busy flashing around them, in a frenzy of “this is once in a lifetime ! Here and there ! Me and now ! “.

Islands like New Caledonia are natural reserves for some animal and plant species. It’s good that the young generation can see them with their own eyes, feel them with their own hands, share with the locals about their habitat, and way of life. Thus I am convinced they are more aware of the fragility of the eco system, and the urgent need there is to preserve it by all means.

Smile ! This zoreille is putting us in the box for fame ! We may make it to Hollywood, say a sequel to Madagascar 2 ?

Dec 1, 2011