About Trees, Gardens And The Concrete Jungle

This is a follow-up blog post to my previous story about the Arcueil allotments. You remember Gisèle’s garden. What I liked best is this little basket and its broom. Not sure why you would need this really, but it’s quite cute.

Yet, the allotments I showed were — just a few monts ago — twice as large and the East part of the gardens is now concealed behind a makeshift fence. Thank God, the beautiful cherry tree at the end of the garden should be kept.

Beyond the fence, trouble is brewing over Paradise. The concrete jungle is gaining grounds. Cheery trees don’t stand a chance. For 1960s lovers, there was a song like this about a little garden in the centre of Paris which was turned into a real estate development.

Great mullet and moustache, Jacques.

Gisèle is looking beyond the fence. Where gardens once were, one will have car parks and concrete. It makes perfect sense. Global warming is at our door, temperatures are rising, pollution is killing us, hence more cars, more roads, more concrete, more car parks. “It all makes perfect sense, expressed in Pounds, Shillings, Dollars and Cents”, Waters would add.

Wait a minute, there is a glimmer of hope! The town hall has extended parts of the garden towards the South, along a narrow strip of land. Tough luck, those pine trees are infested with processionary caterpillars. Guess what? They are here because of global warming. QED. Hence more cars etc. Because in these climes, only the pests will survive. Might as well kill all other kinds of life and dwell in little artificial oxygen bubbles might we not? Makes sense.

So new allotments are being built and some of the gardeners are relocated in newer pinewood sheds.

Far more modern than those derelict Chestnut tree sheds which were built in the 1940s aren’t they? Except that in 70 years from now, pinewood will be rotten and the above Chestnut tree sheds would still be there. Chestnut tree wood is indeed one of the strongest in all weathers, and no varnish is needed, it just doesn’t rot.

The chestnut is the most useful tree in the world. Considering the importance of chestnuts as a high carbohydrate food source for thousands of years, and the beautiful, rot-resistant wood that is used from everything from vineyard stakes, fence posts to siding and bridge timbers, and was a major source of tannin for tanning leather, is there any tree that provides this range of uses and value?

Chestnut the most useful tree

What I liked though is that the new sheds were meant to look absolutely uniform and that gardeners immediately took their tools to customise them.

Old windows serve as greenhouses.

Old shoes as flowerpots.

Isn’t that little snail cute? Marie-Line is from Guadeloupe, one of the islands in the French West Indies.

The good thing is that there are still some gardens left. How long will they survive? Isn’t it time we did away with all that concrete and replaced it with greenery and cool down our cities. Each time I cycle past the Jardin d’Acclimation I can feel immediately a 1-2° Celsius temperature difference. Think about it. What we need is not more air-conditioning. Bring back the trees!

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