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Maintaining your garden easily without having a green thumb is possible! Thierry Gaulard, a landscape gardener craftsman based in Montagny, in the Rhône, indicates the necessary prerequisites. Interview by Charlotte Cousin Which plants are easy to maintain? The best is to go to a nurseryman and observe what he sells: this is representative of what is found on the soil on which we live because the plants are better acclimatized there. We can for example easily grow thyme or bay leaves in the South, while we will refrain from putting olive trees in Brittany. It is good to give growth to the plants of the region. Avoid everything that is exotic and that will be difficult to accustom to the environment, prefer plants that correspond to the climate and the soil: there are so many endemic species, species specific to the territory, that they must be preserved. What are the watering solutions for someone who is often absent? You can go on vacation leaving your garden, without much danger. It's more annoying when growing on balconies, in pots or planters: in this case, you need a drip watering or a system of inverted plastic bottle which constitutes a reservoir. From an ecological point of view, we must avoid overwatering; it is especially important the first year, when the plants take root. Then, it's good to make them "suffer" a little and to wait for the moment when they start to be thirsty: when they leave, at the first rain, they are all the more beautiful. For shrubs: good mulching at planting avoids watering for a long time and protects the soil from wild grasses. It is made from clippings, pine bark or pouzolan: a volcanic stone which does not decompose and which, in good thickness, can be kept almost for life. It is, however, necessary to remove it if you want to plant flowers at the foot of the shrub, which is not the case of clippings or pine bark, which degrade and become again the earth after about two years. How to recognize a plant that is going bad? It depends on the plants but it is felt and seen in their general appearance: the bamboo leaf, for example, will curl up on itself to avoid evaporation. Some leaves may become discolored, soften, or begin to fall and turn yellow, or dry out. In the case of drying, you must remove the leaves and cut the flowers to allow them to start again while watering them, of course. How can you be sure you have flowering plants all year round? Plants generally only flower for a few weeks: you must know the flowering periods of each one. In early spring, think of Japanese quince or fortitia. In full summer: the althea, the buddleia or the rose, the latter being able to bloom again in the fall, a season also favorable to the Japanese ridge. > More info on www.gaulard-paysages.com