The best part of this mimosa road is behind the town of Mandelieu-La-Napoule where you can walk on one of the lovely footpaths in the Massif du Tanneron which has the biggest mimosa forest in Europe.
It is amazing to look at this vast mimosa forest and think that until the mid nineteenth century mimosa was unknown here. It was introduced from Australia after Lord Brougham had led the way and made Cannes the new ‘in’ place for people with money to live. Opulent mansions were built and gardens were made using the newest plant introductions from Australia and other exotic places. The mimosa was so well suited to the climate and the soil in this part of France that it soon jumped over the garden wall and established itself with an astonishing rapidity.
Ecologists today are rather worried that the native flora on the Massif du Tanneron has been almost entirely taken over by the prolific mimosa. The local people have no such worries; they love it. A whole industry has built up round the mimosa. There are now many ‘mimoistes’ who grow it in their nurseries. Perfumeries at Grasse use the flower for its scent. The little train station at Mandelieu-La Napoule was for many years used to send mimosa to florists all round the country. Today over 8 million mimosa bouquets are exported from France to countries all around the world every year. Much of this comes from the Tanneron region.
By the early twentieth century it had became an important part of the local economy. In February 1929 there was a disaster when temperatures of -9 degrees killed the harvest. It took two years for the trees to recover. To celebrate the new harvest, mimosa festivals started to be held every year in February . The celebrations go on for 10 days starting with the election of la Reine du mimosa. (The Queen of the mimosa.) On the Sunday there is the Grand procession : Le Grand Corso fleuri. Each year there is a different theme. This year’s is : The Mimosa celebrates the Riviera. The grand parade consists of floral floats decorated with mimosa from which mimosa is thrown at the crowd
Twelve tons of mimosa are used to decorate the floats and throw at the spectators. Everybody tries to grab as much as they can and when the parade has finished people crowd round the floats and rip the mimosa off them.
I thought about showing this photo for last week’s In A Vase On Monday. But it would have been cheating as I didn’t grow it, I had it thrown at me and that doesn’t count.
There are over a thousand species of Acacia and most of them are not frost hardy. They are very easy from seed and great for the conservatory. I found the most frost- hardy to be Acacia pravissima which has unusual shaped leaves. Mine got to be quite large in a sheltered position. Eventually though it succumbed to a really cold winter.