Bewitching cistus absolute

08/11/2020By BertieUncategorised

Bewitching cistus absolute

Cistus or Rockrose is my favorite plant, I have planted 15 in my garden. It was lucky, not knowing that they thrive into poor soil. It reminds me of my holidays in Provence when I first visited Grasse as a teenager. The smell is the reason it is my beloved plant; it gets stronger at the end of the day, especially when it's been very hot. I love the way it stucks to your skin. You can keep the smell longer when you stroke the leaves.

Cistus (from the Greek kistos) is a genus of flowering plants in the rockrose family Cistaceae, containing about 20 species.

The leaves are evergreen, opposite, simple, usually slightly rough-surfaced, 2–8 cm long. In a few species (notably C. ladanifer), the leaves are coated with a highly aromatic resin called labdanum.

Labdanum – from the Cistus plant – is a pillar of chypre perfumes and many Orientals.  What you smell actually comes from a sticky brown resin, taken from a plant that grows (often in very inhospitable, dry locations) in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East.  Harvesting techniques have become somewhat more sophisticated since the time when labdanum was collected from the coats and beards of sheep and goats that grazed on these tough little shrubs…!  (Labdanum is today extracted from the leaves using solvents, although the branches can also be boiled.)

One of the reasons it’s so widely used now is that it mimics the scent of ambergris. (Ambergris is formed from a secretion of the bile duct in the intestines of the sperm whale, and can be found floating on the sea or washed up on coastlines. It is sometimes found in the abdomens of dead sperm whales.)
Read this olfactotherapy article about cistus

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

30/10/2020By EmmaUncategorised

Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden

Barbara Hepworth museum in St Ives is wonderful, being able to see her studio, through windows, is a privilege...

I waited for too long before visiting this special place.  I love being in this garden and share my excitement with my family.
Everything feels like the artist has just left the room: you can see the color palette of the hanging aprons, the tools next to her work in progress...

This was her workspace from 1949 to her death in 1975, aged 72.
The greenhouse, next to the studio, is beautiful, full of amazing plants growing next to the sculptures. The garden is medium size and packed with large bronze sculptures.
'Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic’, wrote Hepworth. ‘Here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space'.
About Barbara Hepworth:

Her polished, soft oblong and ovoid sculptures are familiar to the public, maybe what is less known is her series of hospital paintings and drawings. After her daughter received treatment for a bone conidtion, she visited local hospitals and study the works of surgeons resulting into unusual sketches of operating theatres.


Baobab or “The time when man began, time where we were all one”

22/10/2020By BertieUncategorised

Baobab or "The time when man began, time where we were all one"

The tree’s fruits are large pods known as ‘monkey bread’ and they produce a dry fruit pulp that is highly nutritious, rich in vitamin C.
When you crack open the velvety shell, the seeds are covered by a white sweet chalk, you can easily reduce it to powder. It tastes like a mix between grapefruit and tamarind.

It is believed that elders would hold meetings under a baobab tree with the belief that the tree's spirits would guide their decision.
The signature of the baobab flower is that it will assist in the spiritual transformation.  It symbolises Power, Presence, Strength, and Grace.

Read more about baobab trees dying in Africa

From a very early age, I've always been intrigued by Baobab trees. I cherish my childhood memories of listening to the vinyl of "Le petit prince" (The Little Prince) read by Gérard Philipe.
The Baobab is native to the African Savannah where the climate is extremely dry and arid. It is a prehistoric species which predates mankind.

"There are nine species of baobab trees in the world: one in mainland Africa, Adansonia digitata, (the species that can grow to the largest size and to the oldest age), six in Madagascar, and one in Australia. The mainland African baobab was named after the French botanist Michel Adanson, who described the baobab trees in Senegal."

The Palacio de Cristal nest

21/10/2020By BertieUncategorised

The Palacio de Cristal nest

A Giant bird landed in Madrid Palacio de Cristal and left a rather strange nest for us to admire.
Just by chance, we saw the most amazing exhibition this summer.
From the outside, you can see beautiful pastel colors and, as you get closer, you notice that there are enormous pink, yellow flowers.
When you come in, high branches are hiding the entrance; it makes it very intriguing.
After a corridor made out of branches, you are in an amazing space with enormous bird legs,  gigantic forsythia, palm seeds, cherry blossom, poppy, carnation, and lilies.
Near the bronze legs, a curious man with a bird head is attracting the selfie crowd. The beautiful colors and the strange atmosphere have an unusual effect on the public.

 “I wanted to conceive Palacio de Cristal as a place for the celebration of love,” Halijaj shares.
It is the work of artists Petrit Halilaj and Alvaro Urbano.
It is will be there until February 28, 2021.

Le Jardin des Monts

15/10/2020By BertieUncategorised

Escape to le Jardin des Monts

It is Noah's Ark as Rossiniere resident called it. You have to be a good hiker to visit this enchantress garden.
Le jardin des Monts was created by two horticulturists Charlotte Landolt-Nardin and Laeticia Jacot. They shaped terraces to plant close to thirty varieties of Alpine plants based on the principles of organic agriculture. The fresh and clean mountain air is perfect for aromatic plants even for mediterranean plants.

To complement their cultures, they gather flowers and wild herbs in the surroundings of the garden.
They started by producing herbal teas mixing lemon thyme, hyssop, cornflower, marshmallow, verbena, lemongrass, lime tree leaves, lemon balm, sweet woodruff, raspberry leaves, elderflowers..., syrups made with Nepeta, creeping thyme and candies and then they grow their beauty range.

They have used the traditional Pays-d’Enhaut paper découpage design for their packaging.
They also organise visits and educational workshops on the mountain pasture.
You can buy their products online here:

La Thomasia

15/10/2020By BertieUncategorised

Discover an Alpine botanical garden

We parked near the Riversong centre thermal and walk the chemin du pont-de-nant (par les Échelles). There, we followed the fabulous exhibition "Itinerance: l'himalaya s'invite au pied du Murevan" created by Rigzen-Zanskar to help the population from small villages in the valley of Zanskar in the indian Himalaya during Covid.

We arrived to the chalet near the botanical garden where the gardener live during spring-summer to take care of this very special garden.
La Thomasia is an Alpine botanical garden situated above the village of Bex, it was founded by the "Thomas"family in 1891, there are more than 3000 mountain plants native to mountain regions from all over the world. (From the Andes, to the Himalayas to the Rockies to the Caucasus to the Arctic.) It leans against the spectacular west face of Grand Muveran (3,051 m.)

In the nursery, plants are cultivated for the botanical garden or for experimental research. The alpine garden is open daily from May through October, depending on snowfall and road conditions.

Few examples of the plants you can see: Hosta ventricosa Stern, Telekia Speciosa baum,Panicaut des Pyrénées, Anemone hupehensis Lemoine, Astrantia majo, Leontopodium souliei Beauverd, Solidado graminifolia... and the Rodholia rosea, an adaptogen plant.

Les yourtes de Domette

10/10/2020By BertieUncategorised

Les yourtes de Domette

There is a secret place called les yourtes de Domette where we spent unforgettable happy days. We swam into the crystalline waters of the Var, played with the filamentous algae.

We journeyed to Villars-sur-Var by the col de la Bonette, one of highest roads in Europe in the Mercantour national park.