French Language Tips: Starting a Garden

By Sonal Panse

Improve your French by learning gardening terms and terms for garden plants and implements. Show your students how to have fun growing a beautiful garden while at the same time increasing their French vocabulary!

French Gardens - Jardins à la française

France is famous for its gardens. During the 17th and 18th centuries, French royals and aristocrats expended huge amounts of French Flag money in laying out magnificent, formal gardens around their scrumptious properties.

Many of these gardens have the following features -

  • They are well-planned, well-organized and colorful
  • They are inspired by classical garden designs
  • They have man-made terraces with connecting stairs
  • They have artificial ponds and fountains
  • They have rectangular, well-manicured lawns and geometric flowerbeds
  • They have pathways lined with boxed hedges and trees
  • They contain decorations like sun-dials, bird-baths, statues and columns

The best known are the Versailles Gardens at the Château de Versailles. These were created for King Louis IV by the designer Andre Le Notre in 1661.

France also has some spectacular informal gardens like the one created by the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet in Giverny.

Starting a Garden

Gardening can be a very fulfilling and rewarding activity. Seeing the garden you planted and developed come alive with colorful blooms, producing fruit and attracting "les oiseaux" (birds) and "les papillons" (butterflies) is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

If you are interested in starting "un jardin" (a garden), you will need to visit "un magasin de jardinage" (a gardening shop) to buy "les instruments de jardinage" (gardening implements), "le jardin des plantes" (the garden plants) and "les graines" (the seeds). You will also need to get "quelques livres de jardinage" (some gardening books) to gain practical knowledge about gardening and also about French garden designs.

Cultivating a Garden En Francais

To cultivate a garden, you must know -

  • To dig - foncer
  • To hoe - biner
  • To plant - planter
  • To water the plants - arroser les plantes
  • To cultivate - cultiver
  • To prune - élaguer
  • To weed - désherber
  • To mow - tondre

You will need to get the following "les outils de jardinage" (gardening tools) -

  • The hoe - la binette
  • The rake - le râteau
  • The shovel - le pelle
  • The spade - la bêche
  • The trowel - le transplantoir
  • The fork - la fourche
  • The pruning shears - les cisailles
  • The hedge shears - le sécateur
  • The hedgecutter - la tailleuse de haie
  • The grass shears - les tondeurs
  • The axe - la hache
  • The mower - la tondeuse
  • The wheelbarrow - la brouette

For watering the plants, you will need -

  • The tap - le robinet
  • The watering can - l'arrosoir
  • The pipe - le tuyau
  • The hose - le tuya d'arrosage
  • The sprinkler - l'asperseur

You must decide what kind of garden you want -

  • A flower garden - le jardin floral
  • An ornamental garden - le jardin d'agrément
  • A botanical garden - le jardin botanique
  • A fruit garden - le jardin de fruit
  • A vegetable garden - le jardin potager
  • A rock garden - le jardin de rocaille

For your garden, you will need to buy -

  • Flowering plants - les fleurir plantes
  • Shrubs - l'arbustes
  • Seeds - les graines
  • Seedlings - les plantes
  • Tree seedlings - les semis d'arbres
  • Saplings - les jeunes plants d'arbres
  • Plant cuttings - les boutures de plantes
  • Lawn turf - la pelouse de gazon

Selecting Garden Plants

Some of the popular "fleurir plantes" (flowering plants) are -

  • Rose - la rose
  • Marigold - le souci
  • Tulip - la tulipe
  • Crocus - le crocus
  • Lily - le lys
  • Iris - l'iris
  • Sweet pea - le pois de senteur
  • Geranium - le géranium
  • Gladiolus - le glaïeul
  • Chrysanthemum - le chrysanthème
  • Sunflower - le tournesol
  • Zinnia - le zinnia
  • Aster - l'aster
  • Dahlia - le dahlia
  • Daisy - la pâquerette
  • Carnation - l'oeillet
  • Primrose - le primevère
  • Peony - la pivoine
  • Bluebell - la campanule
  • Begonia - le bégonia
  • Daffodil - la jonquille
  • Jasmine - le jasmin
  • Lavender - la lavande
  • Azalea - l'azalée
  • Orchid - l'orchidée
  • Water lily - le nénufar

Here are "les arbres fruitiers" (the fruit trees) that you might consider -

  • Orange tree - l'oranger
  • Lemon tree - le citronnier
  • plum tree - le prunier
  • Pear tree - le poirier
  • Olive tree - l'olivier
  • Cherry tree - le cerisier
  • Apple tree - le pommier
  • Apricot tree - l'abricotier
  • Fig tree - le figuier

Selecting Garden Accessories

You may want "le meuble de jardin" (garden furniture) and "les accessoires de jardin " (garden accessories) such as-

  • Garden chairs - les chaises de jardin
  • Garden benches - les bancs de jardin
  • Garden tables - les tables de jardin

You can put in -

  • A Garden path -la voie
  • A Garden pond - un étang de jardin
  • A Fish pond - un étang à poissons
  • A lily pond - un étang de lys
  • A lawn - la pelouse

Gardening Related Phrases

I like working in a garden - J'aime travailler dans un jardin

I would like to buy some garden plants, please - Je voudrais acheter quelques plantes de jardin, s'il vous plaît

Excuse me, how much for those rose plants? - Excusez-moi, combien pour les rosiers?