We have decided that the French must have a strong desire to ‘master’ nature. Otherwise, why do naturally round bushes have to be cut into square shapes? Look at pictures of the Champs Elysees – the tree lined avenue has straight-sided trees. Even in the middle of the countryside we have noted road-side bushes carefully manicured into cubes. We visited a museum which boasted a splendid ‘jardin à la française’, which consisted of lawns containing lines of bushes trimmed into pyramids and cubes beside gravel paths – not a single flower to be seen! Also there is a lack of hedges in the French countryside. At first I thought that it was just in our region that fields have no bushy field boundaries. However, when I was reading a book about the Battle of the Somme (1916), new arrivals in the region commented that it was just like the English countryside but with no hedges.

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