The frisson of the Filippi visit

Eleven years. Is it eleven years? Maybe ten. But for over a decade I have been drooling.

Sumptuous pictures of the Olivier and Clara Filippi garden have featured in all their books. I first found images of their garden in my favourite reference book – The Dry Gardening Handbook. And then there was more drooling in Planting Design for Dry Gardens. And now the new one… (can’t remember its name in English, hang on.

[pause for new tab and a quick dive into the internet universe]

Bringing the Mediterranean into your Garden. I have it in the just published version La méditerranée dans votre jardin.  They ranged a bit far and wide in that one.

But always came back to their own backyard. Their trial beds. Their plants.

So just pause for a moment to picture my utter glee when I realised that our route back home from Girona just before Christmas involved a detour a mere five minutes from the motorway in Sète in the south of France.

Five minutes!

That’s like opening your Christmas gift and finding the most perfect pair of gardening gloves under the tree (soft, but strong, bramble-proof, hard-wearing, long enough to protect the wrists from nettles, utterly comfortable, washable…. yes, yes, the tooth fairy wears them).

I had hoped I would have made time to prepare a Proper List while in Girona but I was having so much fun I barely opened the laptop to do anything but throw pictures at you.

So it was a rushed little toe dipping in the wonderful plant nursery.

And my, I didn’t realise just how close they were to the sea.

Those are oyster beds you can see.

We asked politely and were given permission to trot around the private garden. All these pictures from a fast ten minute power walk of delight.

And just look at how fab this euphorbia rigida is in this setting.

It was a delight.  And the nursery itself was educational and drool-tastic.


Now I know you want to find out just how mad I went in all this glory…

Restraint. Utter restraint.

And yes I did spend the rest of the drive home kicking myself for not buying a third Choiysia.

But it’s too cold to plant right now. That stipa gigantea, the perovskias, the euphorbia, the teucrum Agadir (I wanted the Ouazazate, but it is not tolerant of our cold temperatures) and the three Myrsine Africanas are huddling in my potting shed.

A souvenir of a fab visit.

And homework. Here are their trial beds for the alternatives to grass.


I barely gave it a glance as I was heading like a mad zombie towards the plants.

Alack, the books are going to have to stay resolutely on the shelves for now.  This is paperwork month.  Residence permits, planning permissions, paperasse. General mild panic about future plans.

If you want to see how the garden is photographed in a proper light and with proper kit, do head to their website and you will see why I drool.