Our natural gardening practices

Our motto is «respect for all living things», observing, listening to, understanding and agreeing to question everything that we have learned or heard before, and also sharing our knowledge with the old and new gardeners who, like us, devote their time to  plants. 

 

The life of the soil


The soil in which the plant has anchored its roots to be able to draw water and food from it, is a living environment which must be looked after.
There is no question of torturing the soil too frequently with tools; when the
plants are in place, hoeing is no longer necessary.
The soil must be able to receive the oxygen which is necessary for the roots of the plants, but also for all the living organisms which help them (earthworms, bacteria, fungi, insects, etc.), therefore, you must avoid packing the earth and planting too close together.
 
Practical tip: Mulching and compost
Our mulches help to keep the soil cool in summer, to limit weed development and protect from the cold in winter. We use lavender mulch, a local resource, on the surface every autumn over a depth of 5 to 8 cm.
Our compost, which is also spread in autumn, comes from organic sheep farms in the region.
These two sources of humus provide the soil with food: the organic matter frees mineral elements which are indispensable to the plants and help to amend the soil.
 
 

Lavender mulch

 

 

Water: the life element


Due to their biological system, plant-life is based on water which makes up 90% of the cells. The bio-energetic process of photosynthesis depends on the sun, CO2(carbon dioxide) and water. Water also transports the mineral salts which nourish the plant.
Transpiration from the leaves makes the raw sap rise towards photosynthetic transformation.
Therefore it is easy to understand that the quality of the water is fundamental for these mechanisms to function perfectly. Ph is, among others, an essential element and the ideal water for the correct nutrition of the plants, should be between ph6 and ph7. 

In Provence where summer rainfall varies between 5 and 50 mm, water is precious and requires strict management. Our water resources for irrigation come from a rainwater recuperation system which makes it possible to guarantee the
1000 m3 used from June to September with a « drip » irrigation network.
 
 

Copper vortex installed on a rainwater reservoir.

Fluid vortex known as a “whirlpool” which dynamizes the water.

 
Practical tip: Dynamizing water
Viktor Schauberger, an Austrian researcher at the beginning of XXth century, brought to light the fact that the quality of water for plants should be as near as possible to that of natural water, which is in perpetual movement. The natural dynamisation which takes place in a moving river through fluid vortices known as «whirlpools» gives very good-quality, energy-charged water.

We apply this principle by dynamizing the irrigation water in our storage pools and water transport circuits using specific copper equipment (see in abbey shop).

 

Preserving wildlife


Plants and insects cannot live without each other and there is no room for the notion of «parasite» in this garden. The domestication of plants and intensive farming practices has upset the natural balance and this has led to the predominance of certain insects on the plants.
The biodiversity of a garden will determine its good state of «health», but there is no use trying to calculate too much to obtain the ideal balances.
 
  • Beneficial insects: these are insects which eat others and particularly, those which can cause damage on the plants. If everybody knows the Ladybird with its voracious appetite for greenfly (aphids), we must not forget the Green lacewing which devours greenfly, scale insects and acari, and the Golden Ground Beetle which has a healthy appetite for larvae such as those of the Codling Moth.
  • The pollinizers: the sexual reproduction of plants is carried out mainly by the  transport of pollen, to which certain insects contribute in a big way, insects such as bees, (especially the large number of solitary wild species), but also bumble-bees, butterflies or Hover flies (little flies which look like wasps).
 
 

Ladybird on a branch of wormwood, Common green lacewing and Golden ground Beetle and Hover fly

 
Practical tip: Room and board
The key to success is to accept the presence of some food (greenfly) and water for the survival of the beneficial insects, but also shelters for the winter. For this, plants which attract greenfly are maintained (ex: wormwood), water (ponds) along with small natural shelters (dead wood, bunches of twigs, dry-stone walls…) or ones we make ourselves (insect hotels).
«Non-scythed» areas are left at various spots in the garden to allow insects and wild plants to multiply.
 

Homeopathy and aromatherapy

 
We are continuing to search for any application which can strengthen plant resistance and we have integrated two revolutionary methods into the ever-changing world of the garden.
Homeopathy for the garden came to us from Germany. Thirty years ago, a doctor developed a stock solution based on natural plant extracts and minerals. After having undergone dynamised homeopathic serial dilutions, this preparation is applied to the plants by spraying and watering.
After 3 years of this practice, the result is a better show of flowers, a much higher resistance to diseases and a reduced need for water.
 
 

Homéocult range of homeopathic plant treatment

 
Aromatherapy was also a must for us, following the discovery of the use of essential oils on human health. The laboratoire Ste Victoire, installed in the château de Simiane-la-Rotonde, is a specialist in this.
Many plants offer very efficient natural antifungal, antibacterial, insect repellent components by extraction: Thyme, Savoury, Lavender, Oregano and many others enable us, thanks to their essential oils, to protect our roses from disease and some of our plants from undesirable insects.
 
 

Aromacult: a blend of essential oils to help plants fight against parasites and diseases.

 
Practical tip: Attentive plants
 Remember that plants are highly sensitive and that they are influenced by their surroundings. The moon rhythms their development, sounds lull their blossoming (you can hear the sound of the wind-chimes tinkling in the wind in the garden) and earth’s magnetism guides their steps. So actually « talking to plants » isn’t really so odd!
You can find all our preparations presented in the garden shop and on our site:
www.roseraie-abbaye.com

 

 

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