This French gardener rescues and sells abandoned plants

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At a greenhouse in Lyon, customers can browse burgeoning and flowering plants for sale, all of which were once destined for landfill.

The phytosanitary association was founded by Nicolas Talliu, who trained as a landscape gardener. Talliu nurses unwanted plants back to health and sells them.

Some of the plants are donated, like a waist-high orange tree that its former owner didn’t want to take care of anymore. Most are obsolete plants, bought – at greatly reduced prices – by nurseries and wholesalers who wanted to throw them away.

One recent morning, Talliu opened the back of a van door to reveal what he had just picked up. The van was full of plants. “For example, there is a 16-year-old bonsai that has lost a few leaves. Sixteen years old,” Talliu said in French.

He said he only has the capacity to save a fraction of the plants heading to the trash in his area. “People ask me if I know how many plants are thrown away. Not me. But I know I only have room for about a tenth of the plants they throw away in nurseries alone,” Talliu said.

Houseplants and plants that people buy for their gardens have a strong carbon footprint, Talliu said. “For example, a cactus grown in Zaragoza, Spain is normally flown to a distribution platform in the Netherlands before being flown back south to Marseille for sale. Your cactus may have traveled 2,000 miles before you buy it.”

The city of Lyon has started to take notice. Deputy Mayor Nicolas Husson said he hopes the city can work with Talliu.

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