French Garden Bliss

Add a touch of romance to your garden on any scale or budget.

Credit: GardenWise

French garden design

Add a touch of French style to your yard

Whether you imagine reclining on a patio balcony in Paris or lying in a lavender field in Provence, French gardens instantly evoke a sense of style, structure and wonder.

We’ve gathered a handful of tricks gleaned from formal Parisian gardens to the French countryside that you can apply at home, adding a touch of chic to your garden on any scale or budget. 

Joie de vivre French gardens

Lesson 1: Enjoyment of life

From a bicycle basket 
brimming with blooms, to an armful of fresh flowers, the simplest touches can add joie de vivre and lift the spirit of home and garden. 

French patio design

Lesson 2: Terrace design

Rarely an afterthought, a French terrace is a central zone – often placed between house and garden or garden and view – for family and friends to gather and enjoy. 

French promenade

Lesson 3: Purposefully planted trees 

A traditional French allée (promenade) is a symmetrical row of closely planted trees forming a frame or garden boundary. Try this along a driveway or garage, or train dwarf fruit trees into fanciful shapes using the French art of espalier.

French cooking from the garden

Lesson 4: Garden to kitchen

The kitchen garden or potager is a mainstay of classic French cuisine. Grow your own herbs de Provence, pie fruits, or mesclun – a lively salad blend.

Growing Lavender in the garden

Lesson 5: Fragrant flowers

Perfume is a French essential. Sweet-smelling lavender is the country’s most aromatic export and is easy to grow here in British Columbia. 

En masse planting in French gardens

Lesson 6: Minimal interference

Even the most casual French gardens have an underlying sense of style and control. Try a simple laissez-faire technique and plant “en masse.”

Think Local

The traditional French concept of terroir is currently sweeping the North American wine, food and gardening industry. 

Once exclusively a licensing term designating a group of vines or vineyards contributing to particular flavour of a wine, terroir is now used more casually to indicate a sense of place, flavour or sensibility of any region, large or small.

Grow local in French garden style

Terroir references the influence of climate, soils and topography. Restaurants are catching on, offering special terroir-inspired menus to elevate appreciation for local foods and wines.

You can express the terroir of your own garden by selecting and nurturing varieties of plants, fruits and vegetables that will thrive best there. Celebrate the unique flavours, fragrances and attributes of what you can grow productively within your particular time and place. It’s literally a “taste of the earth.”

Series: Garden Styles of the World