My French garden
How have you developed it?
Sue and Neil Spoonley bought their house in Beyssenac in Corrèze in 2000, but only moved there permanently six years later. Since moving they have spent much time on the garden and won the departmental accolade of ‘Best Garden Visible from the Road in Corrèze’ in 2011 and 2013
What was your garden like when you first arrived?
There was land of 7,000m2, but you could not call it a garden when we bought it. However, it was segmented into different areas by fences, walls and a lane, which had not been touched for over five years. Gradually over the years we have tamed our garden, and created a variety of ‘rooms’ with different characteristics. The rough field is now a park with very large beds of bushes, flowers and fruit trees. What had been a vegetable garden many years ago was stripped out and has
become a mix of flowers, fruiting bushes, and vegetable beds. Elsewhere we have added fruit trees and built a range of flower beds, but planted with perennials. We immediately planted small fruit bushes so by the time we moved here permanently six years later we had well-established bushes delivering all the fruit we wanted.
What grows well in your area of France?
Weeds! Almost everything grows well here. However, each year is very different, and some years something grows well, and the next year it is a complete disaster.
What tips would you give to someone with a garden in your area?
Generally speaking, you should look to get a good balance between shrubs and plants. Without shrubs, this year would have been a disaster as the heat has damaged almost all the annuals and perennials. And then aim at keeping the garden maintenance down.
What do you enjoy most about the garden?
We love to walk around and see the things that have grown from all our efforts of sowing, planting, pruning, weeding, mowing etc. It is not only flowers but all the vegetables and the fruit as well. Without a garden to fill the lovely summer days, what would you spend your time on?