Every year at the end of March a very special weekend event is held on Place Sophie-Laffitte in Sophia-Antipolis: La Fête des Jardins.

Here is a chance to view an enormous variety of plants, trees and shrubs – and without having to pay any admission fee.

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Organised by the Société des Gens de Jardins Méditerranéens, it brings together a variety of regional horticultural, botanical and nursery specialists.

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Grouped by different themes, you’ll find a wide choice of Succulents & Cacti, Citrus, Orchids, Herbs, Roses, Mediterranean varieties, and general garden plants. You’ll also find a display of “air-plants”, a good selection of plant books (in French and English), engravings and old books as well as an exhibition of water colours

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Although it is a relaxed and informal affair where you can chat to horticultural experts as you browse round the show – there is also a series of conferences you can attend which include a Question & Answer section. On Sunday afternoon there is a special botanical workshop just for children.

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The relaxed atmosphere of the shows belies however, a more serious event.

After the official inauguration of the garden show by Monsieur Pierre Laffitte, Senator for the Alpes-Maritimes and Monsieur Jean Léonetti, Deputy-Mayor of Antibes-Juan les Pins, on Friday morning, an international jury made up of horticultural, agronomy and botanical experts select a few remarkable specimens and attribute the label “Sophiazurea” to the best plant and its producer later that afternoon.

I love the garden show as it brings together “under one roof” so to speak, a diverse assortment of regional specialist nurseries that otherwise I would never know existed – or have time to visit. The show also heralds the start of Spring when the sun’s rays are noticeably warmer and thoughts turn to gardening again. For me the show has now become somewhat of a ritual and I try whenever I can to attend. It is not unusual for me to bring friends and family with me to share in the delight of seeing some superb plant specimens – and even buying a few.

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So whether you have a balcony, a terrace, or a garden this garden show is an absolute treat and well worth visiting.

Société des Gens de Jardins is also an association with presently around 300 members. It holds a number of conferences and workshops, outings to public and private gardens and collections throughout the year and publishes a trimestrial review.

La Société des Gens de Jardins Méditerranéens
1233, chemin des Rastines
06600 Antibes
Tel/Fax: 04 93 65 84 47

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