Lavender and roses at the Courson Flower Show Paris

Where is all the lavender?

I was in Paris at the weekend as a visitor to the Courson flower show. This is one of the biggest French flower shows, with hundreds of nurseries exhibiting. It is held in the grounds of a 17th century chateau.


The chateau at Courson.

Plenty of rose flowers

The show was awash with roses, peonies and many herbaceous perennial flowers. By the plants available, it would appear that English country style is all the rage in France!

peony flowers

Cut peony flowers in a barrel of water.

rose flowers

One of many gorgeous rose stands.

display flower garden

This display garden by Truffaut, a large garden retailer, is full of blousy flowers – even on the roof.

As a dried flower enthusiast – lavender in particular – I was looking forward to seeing a lavender nursery and possibly a dried lavender stall.

Spoilt for lavender in the UK

In my home town of Seaford, we have a French market visit us twice a year, and there is always a stall selling olive oil soap, lavender bags, and some slightly scruffy dried lavender bunches. Lavender has had such a resurgence in this country in the last few years that I imagined France, the home of commercially produced lavender (well this century anyway), to be awash with it!

But no – the French currently seem to disdain lavender the same way the English did fifteen years ago.

Admittedly, the heart of the lavender-growing industry in France is Provence, much further South, so perhaps the Northern French in Paris don’t feel quite as linked to it as we would imagine. Additionally, as lavender grows wild in the South of the country, perhaps they don’t prize it to the same extent.

The lack of lavender plants to buy at the show was surprising. In the UK at any out-of-town garden centre, you will be offered Angustifolia, Intermedia, Stoechas, often an additional tender species, and probably a choice of light or dark purple, white or pink. At this extensive show, I saw two or three plants on sale at the herb stands, and a few tufty Stoechas plants in a display. Full stop!

lavender flowers

These are the only lavender flowers I saw in a display.

The lack of lavender plants actually surprised me more than the lack of dried lavender. It was clear that the French were adoring all the blousy cottage garden plants. But what better companion for all the roses and geraniums than a lavender plant? What would a cottage garden be without lavender?

In my meanderings around Paris at the weekend, I couldn’t help thinking what a great sales opportunity for someone. The city was awash with tourists, and who better to buy lavender bags by the armful to take home for friends and family? It seems the only people who don’t realise how popular lavender is are the French.

Some of my favourite flower show photos

rose flowers

My favourite flower of the day – a rose called Claude Monet.

auricula flowers

Auricula theatre – I think this display was by a British grower.


Passionflowers floating in a bowl of water.

iris flowers

A gorgeous selection of iris flowers – reminding me of Monet again.

cornus flowers

This cornus was the plant of the moment – a new introduction.

Garden flowers for drying – related links

More stripy roses – a bit about Rosa Mundi

Growing flowers from seed to dry

Growing poppy seed heads in my garden

Growing nigella seed heads in my garden

Roses from my garden to dry

I went to France with my friend Mercy who also has a blog!

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  1. […] weekend I went to Paris with my lovely friend Ruth. It was a mixture of plants and art (with a side salad of running). Had I the space, and you the […]

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