Call her nuts (and many do,) but TheEye never misses a trip to Paris for May Day weekend  – WHY? It’s Lily of the Valley weekend, of course. They take over the city. On every street corner, people are selling fragrant bunches of divine delicate flowers. It isn’t simply ‘seasonal’, it’s absolutely specific to one weekend a year. Lily of the valley are grown just outside Paris, so they are fresh as fresh can be, not transported in refrigerated trucks as the ones sold in the U.K. are in miserable overpriced bunches.

TheEye goes to Paris armed with appropriate bags to transport her flowers safely home on Eurostar. She’s not called a bag lady for nothing! Not for the faint. It requires great skill to buy them on the market and pack them ever so carefully so they won’t crush or spoil on the train home.

Just a few of many divine bunches of lily of the valley waiting to be packed for the train journey home.

Foucault observed – ‘The garden is the smallest part of the world and the whole world at the same time’.

Quite by chance, the ‘big’ exhibition at The Grand Palais was Jardins curated by  Laurent Le Bon, President of the Picasso Museum and formerly at the  Pompidou, Metz.  

Wolfgang Tillmans – Shoe (grounded)

William Nicholson. ‘Miss Jekyll’s Gardening Boots’.

Boots as planters

A serious, witty and original overview of everything to do with gardens and horticulture in the broadest sense covering many decades. Laurent Le Bon has curated and created a garden ‘walk’ within the confines of the Grand Palais.

Flowers and leaves pressed into books.

Paul Klee. Plants carefully stuck down with tape in preparation for drawings.

Paul Klee

There are early botanical drawings and flowers and herbs pressed painstakingly into books.

Lionel Esteve. Pressed Plants. Galerie Perrotin Paris.

One of a series of watercolours of withering black irises

Examples of artists who have painted flowers  – everyone from masters such as Picasso and Matisse, Cezanne and Monet, Magritte and much more. Contemporary artists such as Richter and Tillmans and lesser known names.

Cartier including the iconic 20s ‘fruit salad’ bracelet

Flower jewellery by Cartier including the iconic ‘fruit salad’ deco bracelet,  Van Cleef & Arpels, beaded jewellery, paper and wax creations. Gardens and flowers are the inspiration to artists working in all materials and styles. The exhibition, not surprisingly, was sponsored by jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels.

Beaded floral jewellery

A visual feast for the senses.

Perfect paper section of a petal

The atmosphere of the exhibition starts immediately with a vegetal wall by Patrick Blanc running along the staircase and a Pompei fresco of a garden continues through an immersive and poetic journey of paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and botanical books.

Grotta Azzurra glass tiles sculpture. Jean-Michel Othoniel.

Clips of famous movies featuring gardens (Jacque’s Tati’s hilarious ‘Mon Oncle’, The famous scene from The Godfather where Marlon Brando playing in the garden with his grandson, collapses and dies of a heart attack  – the small child thinks it’s a funny game, and of course The Draughtsman’s Contract.

Guillaume Pellerin’s collection of gardening tools.

Gardening tools and watering cans in Guillaume Pellerin’s extraordinary collection.

A marvellous, utterly eccentric collection of old gardening tools which landscape architect Guillaume Pellerin (1946 – 2015) put together in his botanical garden in Vauville, North -Western France, is the largest existing collection of its kind.

Matisse ‘cutout’

Marigolds (Soucis) Koloman Moser


If you are a horticulturist, a botanist or just someone who, as TheEye,  gets pleasure from gardens, trees and flowers, this is the must-see exhibition you will love.

Happy gardeners doing what they love!! Horsing around with a hose !!


  1. Hi Janice. All this talk of flowers makes the CAA show Blooming Jewels most timely.

  2. Fantastic images, wonderful hints for inquisitive tourists and your own witty humour.
    What else could be added? Nothing more.
    Thanks so much, Ellen

  3. Wish i were there this min.. thanks for goingandshowing!

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