Two “must do” events on the Medoc calendar are the autumn and spring flower and plant exchange held in the historic and pretty village of Vertheuil.
Although there are stalls where you can exchange your excess plants the majority of the show dealt with the sale of unusual plant varieties. The event is contained within the historic Abbey of Vertheuil and there, depending on whether it is the spring or autumn show, the keen amateur gardener is able to view and purchase plants of all types including many rare and ancient varieties.
We were intrigued by one particular exhibitor who had a selection of plants from the melon and squash family, the majority of which we had not seen before, another had a display of unusual and ancient varieties of tomatoes. Other specialist growers with perennials, roses, shrub and fruit trees could also be found within the Abbey grounds.
The Abbey developed around the 11th century by the Cistercian monks who were responsible for the development of wine growing in the area, which was to spread over an area of 230 hectares including the “Estate Lafite” now of course part of the Rothschild Group.
As usual as in any part of France, food and wine were available, and as it was autumn with the temperature still in the low thirties, we enjoyed a leisurely picnic of local food and wine. Despite the high temperatures chestnuts were being roasted and their pleasant smell wafting through the ancient buildings, together with the perfumes from all the flowers added to the already intoxicating ambiance.
We had a very relaxing time, and although only amateur gardeners, who hate weeding, we came away with armfuls of unusual and sweet smelling plants, exchanged and bought, ready to transfer into our own floral borders.
2011 Judi Humphrey and "T" Brookman (Saint Vivien)