My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

An Espalier of Citrus- and gardening in May


From the Italian spalliera (something to rest on). You take a tree and you train it flat. If done well it can look really extraordinary. Here’s an apple tree:

See original image

Last year I decided to espalier two small lemon trees in pots. Here’s where we are now:

I also finally settled on what to plant on both sides of the steps down to the garden. I went with the Florentine cypresses because that was my first instinct. A pair that’s 2.5 to 3 metres tall. Digging the holes for them was not amusing. I’m very pleased my line of business doesn’t involve digging holes on a regular basis.

garden26may (1)

Around the cypresses I’m planting four polygala myrtifolia (sweet pea bush.) They should arrive in the next few days. I’ve got two planted elsewhere in the garden and they’re very happy with climate- so it’s a safe bet.

My next project is a shade garden under the camellias. I’ve been testing plants to see what would grow/survive and the lamium beacon silver just loves it there; so do the hostas.

I’ve been digging where the lawn meets the shade to see if I can tempt the grass to spread a bit more. I’ll let it go as far as possible into the shade and then border that in whatever shape it turns out to be naturally. I considered leaving the lawn perfectly rectangular and planting around that, but that would make the garden feel smaller. I want the eye to be drawn way back there:


A smoother transition between light and shade. Definitely a challenge- but it’s not like I’m on a deadline.



23 comments on “An Espalier of Citrus- and gardening in May

  1. Arkenaten
    May 26, 2016

    The Espalier look amazing. Never knew this could be done, though it should be obvious I guess. I wish you well with the lemon trees. We have five, (natural) all grown from seed and they are quite big nowadays and have provided a bountiful crop for several years.
    One never considers what nature can give us for ‘free’ until you pop to the supermarket and have to buy stuff!

    I love shady gardens and in the shady part of ours we have ferns hanging from the branches of a wild plum tree. Underneath these , Arums and large-leafed Elephant ears. In front of these for more colour I planted Fuchsias, having ”nicked” a few cuttings from an open garden along my daily jog route. They are fully grown now and I’ve taken more cutting from these.
    As a border, I planted some variegated Chicken Hens. Most of this lot pretty much look after themselves. Suits me to the ground!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How do you hang the ferns? I love that idea. And how far into the shade can you get away with arums? Do the elephant ears die back every year in winter? Do you think they’d make it in this region?


      • Arkenaten
        May 26, 2016

        Phew! All these questions. I should start a gardening post!
        The ferns are in pots and suspended from branches with wire.
        We do have others against the wall as well.
        The arums seem to do all right wherever they are planted – I even placed a few on the step of the pond for a while – but the ones in the shade thrive the best; leaves remain green longer ( no sun damage), taller.
        The elephant ears do die back, but I think this is due more to frost here at our spot.
        Have no idea if they would survive over there? What makes you think they wouldn’t?

        I’ll see if I can post a few photos in a day or so for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There is snow here sometimes. Not every year, but it can happen.


  2. Cara
    May 26, 2016

    You have your own lemons growing, just like in Naples. I’m officially jealous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was that region that gave me the idea. I remember seeing (terracotta) potted lemon trees everywhere in Sorrento. There’s just something really cheerful about citrus in the garden 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cara
        May 26, 2016

        It is cheery (and convenient when you can pull a lemon off the tree to squeeze fresh lemon juice in your glass of vodka)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. john zande
    May 26, 2016

    Nice job!

    Did you see the Bigot just resurfaced?


  4. acflory
    May 26, 2016

    I love your idea about transitioning from lawn to ‘not lawn’, but I’m a bit baffled by the cypress. Won’t they grow up and completely block the view from those windows? Or is that just the angle of the photo?


  5. docatheist
    May 28, 2016

    An absolute slice of heaven!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking about you recently- how about a commune in Southern Europe :D?


      • docatheist
        May 28, 2016

        For me? I’m afraid I’ve ten cats and no money. As the political target of an antisemitic, very well connected military commander, my life has been ruined, and my health along with it, I’m afraid. Now, I just dream of what should have been.


  6. docatheist
    May 28, 2016

    Sometimes, I dream of how i’d have been able to visit Europe and meet you in person. It would be such a wonderful experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Still can be! Re-think it. WE, We, we- (know what I mean by we?) We are professionals at overcoming. You can and must visit Europe and you must be my guest. That’s a statement- not a selection on the Price is Right.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. docatheist
    May 28, 2016

    Huge smile, here! Yes!!! It will take time, but, yes! Definitely yes! And thank you so very much! I look forward to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. docatheist
    May 28, 2016



  9. SaintPaulieGirrrll!
    June 7, 2016

    I live in Florida and used to have so many great citrus trees, oranges, tangerines tangelos, grapefruit in my yard. they all became diseased 2 years ago and had to be removed. oh, how I miss them.


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This entry was posted on May 26, 2016 by in gardens, Mazamet and tagged , , , , .
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