On a dull September morning, I discovered on my desk tickets to the Autumn Edition of the Journée des Plantes in Courson – dubbed the ‘French Chelsea’. As some of you will know, my roots lie in the land of wine and cheese, and this sounded like the perfect stop-over before a family visit!
Let’s set this straight. Located in the park of the Chateau de Courson, 20 miles South of Paris, and complete with muddy paths, this felt more Hampton Court to me than Chelsea.


The Chateau de Courson

250 exhibitors were scattered over 12 acres of the park, and at that time of the year, autumn colours were a real feast for the eye:

Like in all shows, a variety of awards, such as silver and golden “Ribbons”, were being given to exhibitors for the most beautiful displays. These are just a few…

It all felt very familiar, as three Collection Holders were exhibiting and selling plants: Hoyland Plant Centre (National Collections of Agapanthus and Tulbaghia), Ward Alpines (National Collections of Gentiana and Rhodohypoxis) and The Botanic Nursery (National Collection of Digitalis):

Hoyland Agapanthus (4)

Steve and Elaine Hickman with their Agapanthus display

Thanks to Terry Baker (National Collection of Digitalis), Plant Héritage even had a stand (well, minus the accent…!):

Plant Heritage

Plant Héritage was there!

Plant Heritage’s French equivalent, the CCVS (Conservatoire des Collections Végétales Spécialisées) manages a network of more than 250 Collections.  Many had come to Courson as exhibitors, selling plants, giving growing advice or displaying their research activities:

I also had the chance to meet the lovely team of the CCVS on their stand : Sophie Le Berre (their PR person), and in the background, Françoise Lenoble-Prédine (their president).

Sophie and Sophie

Sophie and Sophie

Over a few hours, we discussed ways of increasing collaboration between Plant Heritage and the CCVS, such as exchange visits or reciprocal publications (they publish a high-quality, quarterly magazine called “Hommes et Plantes” – “Men and Plants”). Stay tuned for exciting updates, and feel free to add your thoughts or wishes in the comments below!

The Spring Edition of the Journées des Plantes at Courson will be held on the 16, 17 and 18 May 2014. In the meantime, don’t forget to check the list of Collections on the CCVS website, for your next holiday to France…

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2 Responses to Chelsea-in-France

  1. Excited at the prospect of closer ties with CCVS – this may prove to be a wonderful source of information and possibly of plant material for French and UK collection holders. Their magazine needs renaming, though – ‘Men and Plants’ indeed! Thank you, Sophie, for this blog and for the photos of some unexpectedly familiar faces!

  2. Some lovely plant pics! Courson is great isn’t it – a bit more laid back than Chelsea or Hampton Court though (I was lucky enough to visit the Spring show this year.)

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