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Paris Expo: Bravos and Bouquets for Urban Gardens

by Sheron Long on July 15, 2013

Roses on display at Paris Garden Show, featuring creative ideas in urban gardening. Image © Sheron Long

A bouquet of roses brightens a rainy day at Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries, annual Paris garden show.
© Sheron Long

Creative Ideas Find Fertile Ground

Plenty of creative ideas grew in the Paris salon of Gertrude Stein (early 1900s), including her famous quote:

A rose is a rose is a rose. 

Though generally interpreted to mean that “things are what they say they are,” I’m not so sure that’s the case when it comes to the term “garden show.”

A garden show is a garden show is not just a garden show when it’s in Paris.

This year, the Paris garden show known as Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries staged its magic in the Tuileries Garden—a stunning display of beauty (superbe, as the French say) and fertile ground for creative ideas in urban gardening.

Can’t Go Out? Go Up!—The Beauty of  Vertical Gardens

I bought my ticket to beauty and was enchanted from the moment I saw wispy fabric waving in the wind.

Wall of roses at Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries, a Paris Expo featuring creative ideas in urban gardening. Image © Sheron Long

“L’Instant Grand-Siècle,” exhibit by Nicolas Gilsoul for Laurent-Perrier at Paris garden show
© Sheron Long

What was behind it? A vertical garden of roses—pink and mauve and white and red—created by landscape architect Nicolas Gilsoul for Champagne Laurent-Perrier, a participant in the annual event for the past nine years.

Wall of Roses at Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries, a Paris garden show featuring creative ideas in urban gardening. Image © Sheron Long

Just how big was that bouquet? 10,000 roses and over 15 feet tall!
© Sheron Long

OK, a rose is a rose is a rose, but when I saw 10,000 of them in a vertical garden three times my height, I had to elaborate: Oh-là-là!

Vertical gardens have been around at least since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 600 BC. Today, however, they are a new and creative way to address issues in the urban environment.

  • Green, living urban walls bring to city dwellers the beauty and nature that has long been associated with health and well-being.
  • Vertical gardens play a role in controlling temperatures inside buildings.
  • Some vertical gardens are farms, growing food to feed the increasing urban population.

Vertical gardens are as varied as any landscape. See 39 more here.

Do Creative Ideas Change with the Times? 

Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries, in partnership with the Louvre Museum, formerly the royal residence at the east end of the Tuileries Garden, began the annual event ten years ago.

Each year, the show addresses creative gardening ideas.

Sign honoring Le Notre to whom Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries dedicated its garden show that features creative ideas in urban gardening. Image © Sheron Long

André le Nôtre made the French formal garden
famous throughout Europe.
© Sheron Long

This year’s event honored landscape architect André Le Nôtre (1613–1700) for his creative genius upon the 400th anniversary of his birth.

Le Nôtre was born into a family of gardeners to kings and was trained in the Tuileries Garden, which he modified between 1666 and 1672.

He is perhaps best known for creating the grand gardens at Versailles for Louis XIV.

Creative ideas often spring from need. Le Notre’s creative challenge was to “think big,” generating ideas that worked on a vast scale, whereas urban spaces today often demand creative ideas that work on a small scale.

Times change, and so do creative solutions.

Somehow, I was sure that Le Nôtre would approve of today’s artists, designers, and landscape architects who are working “small” and “up” to bring beauty to urban spaces.

Ugly Sidewalks? Dress Them Up with Dadagreen®

When I saw this gentleman dressed up as Le Nôtre in the Dadagreen® exhibit, I knew I would find creative ideas there.

Actor playing Le Notre at the 2013 Paris garden admiring the creative ideas in urban gardening in the Dadagreen exhibit. Image © Paule Kingleur

Le Nôtre impersonator sits amidst the creative ideas at the Dadagreen® exhibit.
© Sara Lub

Bringing beauty to fences and grills along streets and bridges, by hospitals and schools, to your balcony—that’s the goal of Dadagreen®, innovative flower pots that combine two old ideas—saddlebags and container gardening—to create fertile ground for an urban garden.

Dadagreen® flower boxes straddling urban railings, a creative idea in urban gardening. Image © Paule Kingleur

Dadagreen® flower boxes ride the railings in Paris and green up urban spaces.
© Paule Kingleur

Dadagreen®, the concept of Paule Kingleur, founder of Paris Label, consists of two saddlebags handmade of recycled tarp and decorated with eye-catching photographs. Filled with dirt, the innovative pots welcome flowers, greenery, and even vegetables for those who want to create a kitchen garden on their street.

The Dadagreen, a creative idea in urban gardening, is planted with zucchini. Image © Paule Kingleur

Zucchini for dinner? Just pick it from your street garden!
© Paule Kingleur

How Do Creative Ideas Sprout and Grow?

In Paule Kingleur’s case, one gray November day, she saw a colorful child’s bonnet with stripes perched atop a street pole, one of those ugly anti-parking barriers.

She noticed how the bonnet dressed up the sidewalk. Committed to an urban life, Paule also believes in the right of urban dwellers to connect with nature.

That’s when she had an “Oh, I see” moment, realizing that she could hang pretty containers, called Potogreens, on existing poles to create micro-gardens and beauty in urban spaces.

Many new ideas are born like this. And often, the first idea leads to another. Later, Paule created the larger Dadagreen® where bigger urban gardens can thrive.

Where will Paule’s ideas go next? All over the city. Not content with prettying up a static sidewalk space, Paule threw the Dadagreen® saddlebags on a bike to take beauty on the road! Now, that’s a creative idea that fits our times!

Bicycle with Dadagreen® flower boxes, a creative idea in urban gardening. Image © Sheron Long

Garden on the go!
© Sheron Long

At Jardins, Jardin Aux Tuileries 2013, the rose wall by Nicolas Gilsoul won the Prix Coup de Coeur (“Lovestruck” Award).

Paule Kingleur’s Dadagreen® won the Prix Innovation Cité Vert (Prize for Green City Innovation). 

The name Dadagreen® is a combination of the English word “green,” denoting its green mission, and “dada,” a childish nickname for horse, reflecting its characteristic of a straddle (and a wink at the Dadaist-Surrealist movement).

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.


One thought on “Paris Expo: Bravos and Bouquets for Urban Gardens

  1. Hi Sherry,

    Just took a minute to read (and view) this – wow – you were able to explore and show such a range of inspirations captured by terrific photos. Thanks so much!

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