A garden for all weathers

One of the things that attracted me to my little house was the roof terrace. No, actually that was probably the only thing, apart from the low price. I’ve grown to like the rest of the house, modest as it is, but it was always the bit on top that said “buy me!”. So with the arrival of the first few warm-ish days of Spring it was time to turn a featureless area of roof into something special; a garden.

This required a trip to a garden centre with a borrowed van, to get some pots. Having measured up I figured I’d need six one-metre long pots and a couple of smaller ones. All these would be mounted atop the low wall surrounding two sides of the terrace, fulfilling four purposes. First, they would provide shelter from the wind in the cooler seasons. Second they’d look pretty once planted up. Third, they’d give privacy. And last but not least they’d give some security. The surrounding wall isn’t very high and if some impetuous youngster or enthusiastic dog were to climb on it and fall it’s a four-storey drop to the piazza below.

The first picture shows the terrace with the first pots in place, having filled the van at a trip to Petruccioli (that’s on the edge of Nice, on the Route du Grenoble). The big tubs cost €98 each, and that’s just for the plastic variety; terracotta would have run to €250 or more each. And how I’d have got them up all those steps to the roof I have no idea. As it was, carrying the sacks of soil practically did me in. I had the advantage of being able to use the account of a friend, so I got them at 20% off. Without that I’d have been better off going to Nuova Agrotechnica, over the Italian border in Camporosso, where the same tubs cost about €10 less. They are made in Italy, after all.

080416-1Having dealt with the first vanload I then made a second trip to get the second batch of tubs and soil. The wall on the left is narrower so I had to make up some timber supports to allow the tubs to overhang onto the terrace area. The second picture, taken after sundown following a hard day’s work, shows all the tubs in place and some plants in. We’ve gone for a screen of oleander on the north side, with a couple of climbers at the end and cascading flowers along the front edge. Another of the tubs holds a herb garden.

080416-2A note on the weather. Anyone living outside this area may think we have an easy life in the sunshine, but the fact is that we too have had a dismal start to the year. Yes, I know it’s been pretty awful in England but at least there you have fitted carpets and sealed windows. Here there’s little attempt to seal windows properly, at least at the budget end of the market, and stone floors are pretty inhospitable on a cold, windy and wet April day with outside temperatures more reminiscent of January.

The start of April was awful. A whole week of cloud and rain; the sun shone hardly at all. Then on Monday it threw the lot at us. Here’s a video clip of the hailstorm on Monday morning, in Eze on the Moyenne Corniche at about 8am.

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