I love going to the autumn plant fair at Courson, just south of Paris. It's remarkably easy to get to by public transport (I take Eurostar to Paris, which arrives at Gare du Nord, then just hop on the RER line B to the station Massy-Palaiseau, then either wait for the coach which runs every hour or hop into a cab. Expect to pay around £30 for a taxi, so it's a good idea to share if possible - I've always managed to find someone who's delighted to do so). The show is brimming with top-notch nurseries and full of wonderful autumn planting ideas. Here's a whistle-stop tour of things that caught my eye at this year's show.
(left) mixed asters; (right) autumn fruits by fig specialist Pepinieres Baud.
(left) a fascinating selection of fig varieties and (right) fig jams and chutneys - both by Pepinieres Baud.
(left) Barbour limited edition 'Kate' jacket lined with pretty Liberty print cotton; metal panels to hold prunings (centre) or logs (right).
(left) interesting selection of gardening tools by www.yorg.fr; (right) woven hazel fence panel.
(left) Roy Lancaster with specialist grass grower; (centre) Spodiopogon sibiricus 'West Lake' - a stunning grass grown from material originally collected by Roy in China; (right) the American prairie grass Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blue' has slim blue-green leaves that turn orange-red in autumn.
(left and right) Acer sp. Bermanie - a rare and highly unusual acer with remarkable silver-grey colouring on the undersides of its leaves.
(left) the deliciously scented hosta, H. plantaginea var. japonica (plantain lily); (right) Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanille Fraise'.
(left) Coreopsis 'Raspberry'; (right) Dahlia 'Fata Morgana' on Ferdinandushof Nursery's stand.
(left) Persicaria affinis 'Kabouter' on Ferndinadushof nursery; (left) the handsome, rare, shrub-like tree Poliothyrsis sinensis.
Courson has two shows each year: one in spring, usually around the second weekend in May, and the second in autumn, around the second weekend in October. Check their website for details www.domaine-de-courson.fr. I'd highly recommend a visit to both.