Terrace

Gardens, the beautiful rebels of Paris

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Christine Soler

Vegetable gardens, meeting places and discoveries ... Unusual spaces are hidden in the heart of Paris and redefine the concept of "garden".

They flourished on the pavement, on the old little railway belt or between two buildings. Vegetable nuggets, rich in biodiversity and encounters. Some gardens are temporary, others are perennial. Walk in four of these unusual places of the eighteenth arrondissement where we reinvent the "use" of the city.

Ruisseau Gardens, Ruisseau Street

We must look down to find them, nestled below the embankments of the old railway line that surrounded Paris, close to the Porte de Clignancourt. Decommissioned, the place, owned by Réseau Ferrés de France (RFF), has not always been bucolic. Playground graffiti, it had become an open trash bin, before riparians, precursors of shared gardens, do not hit the slope. Grouped in association since 2004, they have since signed an agreement with RFF and the City of Paris, and a Green Hand charter to perpetuate this strange garden in length. Squash, Filipino beans, Dordogne lavender and raspberries mingle with the latest autumn cosmos, all framed by mountain ash, buddléias, allirantes ... For the happiness of bees of five hives installed in 2010: 60 kg of honey harvested in 2011. Of 400 members - including about twenty schools and associations - all do not have green thumbs.

Some just go for a walk in the compost bin, chatting under the vine, observe the water lilies and the pond fish - created by the students of a professional high school - or the insect hotel of the children of the workshop Gardening and Environment. The structure of the barrels collecting rainwater, designed by students from a nearby high school, has even received the Stockholm Water Prize. Here, no lopin just self. To promote exchanges and diversity, small parcels are cultivated in each parcel, the first job being to baptize it together. "Gardening is an excuse to cultivate the link in town," smiles Cyril, volunteer co-president of the association with Denis, its founder, anxious to open the garden to the greatest number, with open doors and, every beginning and end of summer, concerts where we dance, so ... on the tracks! Access stairs on the bridge, 110, rue du Ruisseau.

www.myspace.com/jardinsduruisseau

Ecobox, 7, dead end of the Chapel

Here, we bine, we straw and we dream upstairs, on the slab of a garage roof SNCF with passiflores and view of the Sacred Heart. Below, we walk between flowerpots, baskets, trellis, guinguette and mobile kitchen on an old car park waiting for a real estate project. Nature is first seen as "a place of sharing, exchange and free," said Concetta, president of the association. Hair scratching real estate projects, the nomad Ecobox - installed at the hall Pajol before its renovation - put his pallets, his recovery equipment 'and his wicker baskets in 2009. Moreover, on the slab, everything is mobile and demountable, in the spirit of the Autonomous Architecture Workshop (AAA) at the origin of Ecobox, a multidisciplinary platform (to learn more: www.urbantactics.org) launched in the early 2000s by the architects Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu, who proposes to reinvest the city from its "interstices".

Some 75 members cultivate flowers, perennials and vegetables on individual plots of 2 m2, placed on a checkerboard of vegetated pallets. A hen house, a greenhouse and a common tool shed make the stalemate a Tati-style bricolo-poetic island that is resistant to buildings and horns. Just like the foam installations gleaned from the forest by Jean-Claude, a regular, who reinvents miniature gardens. "Besides the pleasure of the shoot, we share moments of conviviality", observe Jérôme and Véra, the animators employees of Ecobox. Attentive that the place remains a space of peaceful cohabitation between retirees, young parents, teens ... And freedom "where everyone can be an actor by enhancing their gardening skills or pushing other projects", such as hosting an Amap (Association for the maintenance of a peasant agriculture - this is the case now - or to organize an evening.

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The Alice Garden, 40 rue de la Chapelle

Here, no peg to shoot, as in the tales, but a minicrocodile, above the bell, which invites to enter the kingdom of Alice, in memory of the former owner of the garden (she lived there near 50 years). And what a garden! Closed by walls covered with a sumptuous Virginia creeper, it recalls the "village of the Chapel", where grapes and fruit trees were grown. The building, with its guardian cottage behind lilac beds, its vaulted cellar and stables - turned into a rehearsal studio and sculpture workshop - is a gentle testimony to the past of the former suburbs of Paris.

Nicely foutraque, the garden, out of the secret thanks to them, is now accessible to walkers wishing to settle there. It houses a beehive, Bruno's 100% eco-designed cabin, the group's "sunflower teacher", dry toilets, sculptures installed here and there among yellow roses, calendulas, borage ... Two or three times a month , the collective programs concerts, conferences, cinema in the open air ... Revived, this vestige of the past is condemned also by the next construction of a social housing. Ecobox could, next door, take over the management of the garden to avoid total privatization and keep an opening on the neighborhood. "Architects were reminded to listen to what exists and to preserve as much of the garden as possible," says Sarah. And what can not stay, we uproot it to replant it elsewhere ... "

www.jardindalice.wordpress.com

The Bois-Dormoy, 2 bis, city of the Chapel

In this jungle, "Faro", a peaceful tiger cat, is a fawn, with a dragon ... mosaic, created by Phlippe, one of the 80 members of this unique shared garden. Surrounded between buildings and abandoned for twenty years, after the bankruptcy of a land project, the land of about 1500 m2 has flourished in his heart willow, buddléias, maples, poplars ... "A wildlife inventory / Flora is underway by the Jardin des Plantes, "says Thomas, co-founder of the association. Not to mention the allantes, queens of wasteland, who, by dint of contortions to seek the light, form a labyrinth of high branches ideal for hiding, build cabins ... A particularity respected, by the inhabitants of the district, who have invested the wood in 2007, after half-opening the fence ...

After petitions and the support of elected green, they snatched from the mayor of Paris, now owner, a convention to open on the street (replacing the fence with a mesh fence) and make a place for life: picnics, concerts, mosaic workshops ... Garden plots welcome kindergartens and neighborhood associations such as La Table ouverte, which brings together retirees from the Maghreb. Happy, like Mohammed, 82, Algerian emigrated to France at 20, to find their rural roots by cultivating cabbages, chard, beans, coriander ... And to chat in the shade of fig trees. But until when? The construction of a nursing home for the elderly, planned for 2013, threatens the existence of wood. A petition circulates and the association pleads for another establishment in the district, which does not destroy a "breathing space in a neighborhood that lacks so much."

www.boisdormoy.blogspot.com

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