Sunday, June 21, 2015

Natives Abroad

Last week I returned from a trip to France, having been separated for 2 weeks from my beloved Georgia native plants. Or was I? I knew that early botanists to North America took some of our plants back to Europe, so I had a suspicion that I might see a few of my friends there. I was right!

Sign for Magnolia at Jardin du Luxembourg
The first one I spotted was Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and that one was the most frequently used Southern plant that I saw throughout France.

As we traipsed about Paris in our touristy journeys, I kept my eyes peeled for other signs of North American natives. London planetree, a sycamore hybrid between the Chinese and the US native species (Platanus  orientalis and P. occidentalis) is used throughout France as a street tree. In urban areas, it is often pruned (or even worse, pollarded) to fit the space. I also spied the occasional Catalpa and locust trees but was not able to confirm that the species used was a North American native.

Wow, planted in 1602!

One black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), however, was conveniently labeled as to species and date of planting. The tree was ailing, but they were trying to prop it up and it was suckering like mad.

The black locust suckering to survive

At several public gardens and the Quai de Branly museum garden, I found our beautiful oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). It is no surprise to see people appreciating that beautiful southeastern native shrub by using it as an ornamental shrub .

Trumpet creeper in Frejus, France
We traveled down south to the French Riviera where the Bougainvillea vine reigned supreme in masses of hot pink. But in several places the bright orange and red flowers of trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) took the stage and it was a beautiful spectacle. French gardens are often heavily manicured and well-maintained so there was no sign of it being out of control.

 Occasionally I did find tendrils of escaped Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) on the edges of gardens. I’m sure they love it for the fall color like we do.

I was hoping to find more perennials in use, but Heuchera and Tiarella were all that I saw in Paris. The Heuchera was being used as part of a large vertical wall at the Branly museum and as an annual at the Luxembourg garden. In the south of France, I found Gaura being used in a seaside planting with agaves.

Heuchera was a big component of a vertical wall at Branley

Heuchera in border at Jardin du Luxembourg
Gaura was a standout plant in this seaside garden

In a wildflower field in the Burgundy region (Bourgogne), I saw Coreopsis and California poppy mixed in a classic combination with European daisies, cornflowers and red poppies. What a beautiful arrangement!

Beautiful meadow near Beaune, France

Driving around on an open-top tour bus in Paris afforded me even more territory to view and I spotted tuliptree (Liriodendron) and sweetgum (Liquidambar), although both of those also have Chinese cousins so I could not be sure.

Finally, I saw Yucca planted at the hotel near the airport and while I am not certain it was the North American species, it sure looked like it! It was certainly fun to see some of my friends in France.

No comments:

Post a Comment