garden tales from a Brit abroad
Three years ago I wrote rather disparagingly about the jardins des Grands Moulins – Abbé Pierre, in Paris’s 13th arrondissement. It is a new, self-proclaimed sustainable park, and I wondered quite what visitors were meant to do there, other than admire how desperately sustainable it all was.
A second visit this summer has made me somewhat change my views. The park is still undeniably scruffy, with unremarkable native plants sprawling and straggling over the paths. Clumps of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica subsp. dioica) lurked right by at least one set of steps.
But there is now a clearer contrast between the mown grass and the meadow areas, which make it clear that the park is meant to look like this, rather than (as a commenter on my initial review remarked) as if the city had stopped maintaining it four years ago. The plants generally had grown in and looked more settled, and thickets of guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) offered bright red clusters of fruit to enliven the otherwise overwhelmingly green palette.
Plus water was now duly flowing and gurgling as intended in the many rills and channels around the site (my first visit was during a drought).
And, most importantly, people were now present, doing … well, what people normally do in neighbourhood parks: sitting on benches chatting, pushing babies in buggies, people-watching (from the rather snazzy curved bridge over the site), even a group of kids playing a version of Pooh Sticks with leaves in the water channels.
Maybe it was just that my expectations were lowered by that first visit, but overall I rather warmed to the jardins des Grands Moulins.