my garden parterres- an update

by Sharon Santoni

The garden at sunset- My Garden Parterres- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

The parterres in the garden are now in their third summer and I thought the gardeners among you may like an update – these parterres are after all a joint project, since all the big decisions were made with your help and advice!

The weeping roses (White Dorothy) in the centre of each parterre have gone pretty crazy this year.   They are enormous and have required a simple frame for their slender stem to lean against, as wind resistance is maximum at this time of year.

Roses in the garden- My Garden Parterres- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME


Early spring the beds were filled with self-sown aquilegia, and we took the very big decision of adding an edging to the parterres.  You may remember that I hesitated over this, and initially edged in Lamium.    Finally the Lamium proved pretty hard to control and so  I ordered over three hundred little Ilex Crenata.  I have to tell you that planting that many tiny little bushes is no mean task, and was a three day job.

We chose Ilex over box because of the box blight and moth problem that is rife in France at the moment, and I’m happy with the way they look.

Flowers in the garden- My Garden Parterres- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

The garden- My Garden Parterres- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME

They have finished off the parterres and make things look neater, although I’m alarmed at how quickly they grow compared to box.   They will need trimming several times a year for sure!

So I’d love to know if you have any experience with edging flower beds or parterres?   Have you tried Ilex or another variety in the place of Box? And if you have any other ideas to share, that would be great too!

Pink rose petals at sunset- My Garden Parterres- MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME


Do tell me please, I’d love to know!


Chandra Naylor June 19, 2018 - 9:17 pm

Mondo grass works for me

Dottie Monta June 19, 2018 - 9:19 pm

Beautiful, Sharon! Your choice of ilex is wise; the Stokes Ilex we used for years performed so well! (They did require upkeep but nothing oppressive and they did stop growing at about 12″.) Have never seen this rose (White Dorothy) and simply must have it. You’ve “punctuated” your gardens effectively with those digitalis! Surely you’re planning garden parties, with everything blooming so splendidly. Photographs, please!

Penny at Enjoying The Simple Things June 19, 2018 - 9:33 pm

Beautiful! I love seeing that last picture with those blossoms scattered everywhere!

Wendi Yates June 19, 2018 - 9:34 pm

Those roses…..gobsmacked! And the rosemary…amazing! Love it all…great vision!

Nena Ivon June 19, 2018 - 9:35 pm

This is stunning, I always love your posts. I would love to share this on my blog my followers would love it. Please let me know your thoughts….a million thanks for your consideration, and for sharing your exquisite posts. Best regards.

Alice Genzlinget June 19, 2018 - 9:52 pm

Love the Ilex borders. The yard Is beatiful. Today we had a hail storm about an hour ago and there is nothing left in our yard but stalks. So sad to see everthing we have worked so hard to be destroyed but we and the house made out just fine. The boxwoods are damaged but will recover and the small garden on the east side was protected by the overhang so it will recover. Hope you don’t get these kinds of storms.

Susan June 19, 2018 - 10:21 pm

Hi Sharon I have grown box in a border in both north Florida and here in suburban Seattle. I also had ilex trimmed into round balls in between the boxwood border hedge in Florida. Only box and other privet type hedges here. I had more trouble with ilex deleafing and getting skeletal than the boxwoods. The boxwoods in that house are now 3 feet tall and very healthy but overgrown after we left it to tenants. Ilex balls are almost gone…here in pacific NW, I have had a few boxwoods suddenly turn pale yellow and die but 90% of them are green and flourishing. I hope you have better luck with your ilex!!
My problem is my 3 year old wisteria that grows rapidly but mostly leaves and vines but not too many flowers. I tried cutting back last winter but still only a few. Any tips on that? Also how often do you feed your beautiful roses?
Au revoir, Susan

Our French Oasis June 19, 2018 - 10:34 pm

We too have enormous problems with box blight here in the Charente Maritime. We use lavender to edge our borders, it seems to grow fantastically here, it likes the heat and I love the scent if one runs ones fingers through it, just heavenly. Your parterres are looking really fabulous, isn’t it amazing how quickly things evolve. I always feel impatient when I first plant small things, wondering how they will fill such a large gap but incredibly they do and I know patience is the answer!

Nichola June 19, 2018 - 10:38 pm

Absolutely EXQUISITE, Sharon! Mesmerizing.

Roberta Heider June 19, 2018 - 10:39 pm

You do know that ilex crenata gets quite tall, It may not work as an edging for long.
The wisteria problem from another reader…go out about 2 feet or so and with a sharpshooter spade, root prune all around in a circle. That may nudge your vine to bloom. It worked for me,

Susan June 20, 2018 - 12:40 am

Thanks. Will try it.

Fiona June 19, 2018 - 10:54 pm

I’m not a very good gardener, but I appreciate beauty. Thrilled to see how they turned out. Fabulous!

Emily June 19, 2018 - 11:07 pm

Sharon, the garden is exquisite. Is the large pink rose a Constance Spry?

Jeanne June 19, 2018 - 11:11 pm

What is the name of the beautiful pink climbing rose….it’s exquisite.
Fabulous garden!

bonnie groves poppe June 19, 2018 - 11:11 pm

The Ilex is a good substitute for box, in my opinion. What I wonder is how you keep the grass from invading the parterres. The only way I know of is ……. Roundup …….. which I’m guessing is not your method. I’m in Provence, and the only Box I have is a hundred year old native tree (yes, it is native here) which I keep opened up, and have not had the moths for a couple of years since doing that. I lived in Oregon for several years, which has a climate very similar to Normandy, and grass was the most invasive of all weeds.
bonnie in provence

Nicole April 27, 2024 - 2:24 am

Look up deep V edging for grass. It’s a great solution to keep grass in check without any toxic roundup.

Sherry June 19, 2018 - 11:26 pm

Oh, so beautiful! Thanks for sharing this!
Makes me want to be back in France soon!
What is that absolutely gorgeous pink rose?

Dianne Adams June 19, 2018 - 11:33 pm

The parterres look fantastic but I have to say the picture of the pink climber and your house should definitely be on the cover of your next book or on the cover of Veranda. The evening hour or maybe just after rain made the colors so vivid–stunning!!

Beverly Poag June 20, 2018 - 12:04 am

So beautiful! Is the pink climbing rose NEW DAWN. If not, and want a beautiful climbing rose this is it…smells heavenly!!

Billie June 20, 2018 - 12:22 am

I especially enjoy your garden posts. Do you happen to know the name of the abundant pink rose in the last photo.

Kim June 20, 2018 - 12:24 am

So lovely!!!

Ros Short June 20, 2018 - 12:39 am

A beautiful setting Sharon ,frames your house so well Best Ros

Carolyn Watson June 20, 2018 - 12:49 am

Here in Mississippi we use monkey grass. It is invasive and has to be dug up on the edges to keep it in check. Some varieties are not so invasive. It is very sturdy and makes a good border edging.

Lisa D. June 20, 2018 - 1:00 am

I cannot offer any advise or suggestions on edging parterres, as I don’t have any, but I HAVE to know what that beautiful climbing pink rose is in the last picture. It is simply gorgeous! Please, do tell!

Alaina Moeller June 20, 2018 - 1:23 am

Your home and gardens are just so beautiful. I would love to eventually have a garden like yours.

Marilyn June 20, 2018 - 1:56 am

Love the Ibex border too. I had not heard of it. Now I will be looking for it, as I need something to line the walk/entrance to my front door. Yours looks just wonderful bordering the garden.

Lisa June 20, 2018 - 1:57 am

Unfortunately a small box garden got the box blight last year. I removed five 16year old box and replaced with Illex Inkberry holly. That was around Easter. Thank goodness for copious amount of rain this spring. All bushes look very good and healthy. Your parterres are beautiful. The ilex will get taller and you will probably need to prune them eventually. I would leave them alone for a year or two. I once made a small knot garden and used germander and the grey curry plant. Both hardy in my zone 6 USA garden. What is your hardiness zone? I hope the dreaded rose rosette disease has not been found in France.

Sue Malizia June 20, 2018 - 2:38 am

I love seeing how your parterres have turned out…and how they came to life from your idea a few years back and your using ilex (actually new to me). I have boxwood hedges and I suppose all hedges need pruning but the look is so worth it…especially yours. I transplant a lot of plants (the joys of gardening) but as I found out I’m actually not a fan of grasses, as they spread everywhere…and found myself pulling them like weeds; they are quite invasive. I like the whole look of your garden just the way it is! =)

Esther George June 20, 2018 - 4:14 am

Hi Sharon, your garden is so beautiful . When it comes to edging Black Mondo grass is popular over here 45cm wide 25-30cm high then there’s the Agapanthus dwarf Peter Pan or Baby Blue 70-80 cm high 50 cm wide or Orange Jasmine 3m high 2m wide Mexican Orange Blossom 1.5 m high 2m wide oh must not forget Society Garlic 30m wide 20m (my favourite). all these plants and information are via I would be lost without them. Thank you for sharing beauty. Till next time, regards Esther from Sydney.

The Enchanted Home June 20, 2018 - 1:48 pm

A total fairy tale!!! It is so very beautiful:)

Steven June 20, 2018 - 5:42 pm


Afn June 20, 2018 - 6:04 pm

Beautiful garden. Thanks for sharing. Wish we could have all this in Scottsdale,Az. Manage roses,
Boxwood and more, oh the green so much more beautiful.

Pat June 20, 2018 - 6:04 pm

Those roses are gorgeous

Lenore June 20, 2018 - 7:11 pm

A picture is worth a thousand words….your garden is stunning. I wish I could come sit and enjoy the fragrance of the roses. I live in zone 5 USA and wonder what garden zone you are in.? I live on a sandy ridge and edge with lavender. Your roses are beautiful…if only I could smell them. What type of vine is growing on your house? It adds so much to the beauty of your garden and home. Do you have a supportive framework for the vine or do you allow if to attach directly to your house?
Thank you for sharing.

Kelly June 20, 2018 - 7:27 pm

Lonicera nitida can also make a nice edging shrub.

K. Margo Stevenson June 20, 2018 - 7:55 pm

Sharon…Here in Woodinville (a Seattle suburb), I have dwarf boxwood surrounding my house and patios. But they probably would grow too tall in your application, and heavily pruned each year would not keep them happy. There is a lovely evergreen dwarf yew you might consider, slow growing and not harmed by pruning.
Your garden is lovely.

Betty June 20, 2018 - 8:09 pm

I saw a lovely edging of Iberis, or “candy tuft” with a yellow and white Blossom. It looks like lace, and it doesn’t require pruning or digging. Try it.

Mary June 21, 2018 - 4:32 pm

Oh goodness! Absolutely stunning! I’m not worthy of giving any advice to you, Sharon! They’re perfect!

Kathryn Weir June 22, 2018 - 3:28 am

I would probably edge with bricks, either on edge in a slant or horizontally , so they can be a buffer against the invading grass and they are strong to stand the use of a line trimmer against them. The following are used as edging in NZ, Mondo grass – black or green, liriope, blue carex, fescue, dwarf agapanthus, dietes, lavender, rosemary, even hostas in shady conditions and Lonicera nitida. Heuchera/Coralbells and catmint can also be used.,

Virginia July 2, 2018 - 3:15 am

Beautiful garden. Here in North Carolina, I have an ilex border surrounding three rose trees that are more than 15 ft. tall. The ilex has survived 30 years, but are now beginning to die off. I have replaced them with miniature boxwood. I love the shape and color. The ilex required yearly trimming, whereas the boxwoods do not. However, I always have to be on guard for fear my maltese decides to urinate on the boxwoods, which would kill them. So far, he has left them alone.

Cenepk10 March 3, 2020 - 3:42 am

I’m not rich & unable to hire peeps to clip box- so I swore when I sold my home with the gorgeous boxwoods I planted everywhere- I would never be a slave to THAT again!!!! I agree with the gal that said Mondo Grass. That is what I use to edge now. It does creep – but just dig it up & transplant it to the next bed. Never needs clipping, pruning, deadheading & is a magnificent evergreen border. I absolutely adore your garden. Always looking for posts of yours !


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