Gardening at Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois is still in its infancy and very much an experiment. Although the roof terrace is too windy and exposed for planters, both the courtyard and lower terrace are quickly becoming a little paradise.
A semi-circular flowerbed has been created in the courtyard for bulbs and annuals. By raising the bed’s wall, it became possible to plant spring bulbs in layers for a long flowering season. In total, just under 1,500 bulbs were planted. These range from snowdrops, grape hyacinths and fragrant crocuses to narcissi, daffodils, tulips and a variety of alliums.
Because the opportunities for gardening at Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois are somewhat limited, we also rotate flowering annuals to ensure that there is always something to please the senses. We use a hydroponic gardening system to help seeds germinate quicker. This ensures optimal temperature, moisture, nutrients and light at all stages of development.
On the south-facing lower terrace, our gardening efforts focus on fresh herbs, tomatoes and other ingredients for salads and Mediterranean dishes. Pouzols-Minervois being a wine-making village surrounded by vineyards, we obviously grow grapes too. Our vine is a delicious seedless, white dessert grape variety.
Other plants on the lower terrace include figs, lemons, roses and jasmine. The plan is to create a real Mediterranean experience, with fragrant citrus and almond blossom in spring, exotic bananas and palms that thrive in the summer heat and always something of interest throughout the year.
Gardening in Pouzols-Minervois is greatly helped by local plant sales and gardening centres. Fontfroide Abbey hosts an annual plant sale in its grounds. Slightly further away, Roquebrun has an amazing micro-climate in which a surprising variety of plants thrive in gardens everywhere.
For the best planting inspiration, a short walk around Pouzols-Minervois or longer hikes in the surrounding countryside will bring plenty of inspiration. The plants that really do well are those that can cope with cold winds in winter and hot, dry summers.
They are robust plants, such as oleanders (toxic to pets, which is why we don’t have them!), gorse, irises and lavenders. Colours change on an almost weekly basis, from purple Judas trees and irises in spring to golden browns in Autumn. And there’s a wide range of wildflowers everywhere too!