>The plants in our spring kitchen window – a jumble of daffodils, cyclamen and pansies which have brightened the view for weeks – are coming to an end now, so in yesterday‘s cold north tramontane wind and bright sunshine we went to buy plants to put in pots by the front door. We‘re lucky to be near Mèze where Pépinière Filippi specialises in plants for a dry climate. Unlike some garden centres which tempt us with plants which need too much water and would grow better in a more northern climate, Filippi suggests that we fill our gardens with plants which thrive here. If you can‘t get to Mèze, their website www.jardin-sec.com gives a lot of very useful information if you understand French. Even if you don‘t, the plant names are in Latin and the pictures are excellent. We bought a Gazania rigens, a Lantana montevedensis and a Rosmarinus officinalis var. repens, all recommended for growing in containers. On the way back we stopped at De la Terre à la Terre in Montagnac – another good place for Mediterranean gardeners, although it concentrates more on trees, olives, citrus and palms. We bought this unlabelled shrub with pretty pink flowers:
We made a detour to Bouzigues for lunch. Bouzigues is an oyster village – the whole place is devoted to producing and selling oysters, with a few other shell fish – clams, sea urchins and mussels. There‘s a line of cafés and restaurants along the shore of the Bassin de Thau, a salt water lagoon separated from the sea by a thin strip of land. We went to our favourite, Chez la Tchèpe.
You sit at plastic tables in the sun, choose your oysters from crates on the counter and eat them with a glass of Picpoul while you look out at the beds where the oysters grew, only a couple of hundred metres away. Picpoul is the white wine made from grapes grown in this small area between Pézenas, Bouzigues and the sea, whose slight piquancy makes it the perfect accompaniment for sea food.