My interest in gardening derives directly from my interest in food. As a sunburnt child in my grandparents’ garden in Connecticut, I would run barefoot across the dry summer grass to the garden, picking green beans off the stem and popping them directly in my mouth. Asparagus were the hardest to grow, according to Grandma, and cucumbers and zucchini were abundant and would burst to be the size of my young forearm towards the end of the season.
Here in the city, I have a small space off my kitchen window that overlooks the courtyard at the ground floor level. I have a nice herb garden and a few fruit bushes – strawberries in a window box, raspberries in two pots (thanks to friends who gave me raspberry babies two summers ago – merci Sam et Chris !)
I recently discovered that there are two libraries in Paris dedicated to plants and gardening. While the resources at these libraries are 100% en français, I thought this could be interesting for other Parisiens looking to spend an afternoon browsing and reading about the subject, or for those who have small children and are looking for new kid-friendly sites to discover.
Maison de la Nature
Located in the Parc Floral, a special garden within the park of the Château de Vincennes. The Parc proposes numerous activities throughout the year – from open-air concerts in the summer, to gourmet food fairs and other exhibits in the fall and spring.
The library collection spans from books about the environment, to different plant types, climates, types of soil, forestry, etc. etc. There are numerous children’s games and books, as well.
Books can be consulted on-site or borrowed to take home. A separate subscription is necessary from that of the regular Paris Libraries.
Note that the Parc Floral is only free to visitors in summertime during the week; on weekends there is an entrance fee. The library occasionally organizes special free events on weekends, and if you’ve signed up in advance you can enter for free.
More information in English can be found here: http://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71343/Parc-Floral-de-Paris-Jardin-botanique-de-la-Ville-de-Paris
Website in French: http://equipement.paris.fr/maison-paris-nature-17576
Bibliothèque de la Maison et du Jardinage
This library is inside the Parc de Bercy in the heart of Paris’ 12th arrondissement, free to visitors year-round. There is a tiny courtyard outside the building with various potted plants, and a small greenhouse only accessible by reservation.
Inside, the ground floor is dedicated to children’s activities, with interactive games and exhibits.
Upstairs, the small library contains an arsenal of books about all different kinds of plants, gardening techniques, and periodicals. Books may not be borrowed – but consultation on-site does not require any subscription.
In the meanwhile, back at my apartment, I’ve tried my hand at staking the raspberries. Anyone tips or suggestions on raspberry growing are welcomed!