Dream Gar­den

In the heart of the Vos­ges moun­tains in east­ern France, this tran­quil gar­den mir­rors the wild beauty of its nat­u­ral sur­round­ings

Homes & Gardens - - H&G CONTENTS -

A tran­quil coun­try­side de­sign with a stream-fed pond at its heart.

DE­SIGNER PRO­FILE Thierry and Monique Dronet have spent al­most 25 years cre­at­ing their gar­den and nurs­ery, Le Jardin de Ber­chi­granges. Thierry is a car­pen­ter, mak­ing fur­ni­ture from the lo­cal tim­ber, while Monique’s nurs­ery spe­cialises in cot­tage gar­den plants.

WHAT DID THE GAR­DEN LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU BOUGHT THE LAND?

This area was a gran­ite quarry for many years and it was planted with conifers af­ter the Sec­ond World War so, when Thierry moved here in the 1980s, the prop­erty was cov­ered with spruce trees. He cleared these to make a small gar­den around a wooden shack, which later be­came his home. When we moved in to­gether in the 1990s, we grad­u­ally bought more parcels of land, re­mov­ing more than 3,000 trees in all, and bring­ing in lorry-loads of top­soil.

WHAT IN­SPIRED YOUR DE­SIGN FOR THE GAR­DEN?

The Vos­ges moun­tains and the wild flow­ers of the re­gion were huge in­flu­ences. Thierry is the ar­chi­tect of the gar­den; he uses his artis­tic eye to cre­ate an at­mos­phere, and I add the plants, but we have never drawn a de­sign or plan on pa­per. The land­scape dic­tates what should go where. Some ar­eas, in­clud­ing this pond and the peren­nial meadow, have a nat­u­ral­is­tic look, which we have cre­ated us­ing a mix­ture of wild plants found grow­ing in the moun­tains and val­leys and or­na­men­tal cot­tage gar­den plants that we have grown in the nurs­ery. Other parts of the gar­den are more for­mal, with clipped beech hedges, top­i­ary and mown lawns.

HOW DID YOU CRE­ATE THE POND?

This is in fact a nat­u­ral pond fed by moun­tain streams. It had lain hid­den for years and we had to dig out the weeds, and re­move the sand and gravel that had filled it, be­fore it could be re­vealed in all its glory. Thierry built the tim­ber deck that stands over the wa­ter, to cre­ate a place where vis­i­tors can sit and en­joy the views. We have used cot­tage gar­den plants and ferns to form colour­ful edg­ing, with a suc­ces­sion of dif­fer­ent species to cre­ate a mag­i­cal the­atre of flow­ers from early spring to late au­tumn.

CAN YOU REC­OM­MEND SOME COLOUR­FUL WATER­SIDE PLANTS?

One of our favourite marginals is Myoso­tis scor­pi­oides (wa­ter for­get-me-not), which has pretty blue flow­ers that bloom from May to Septem­ber. We have also used a va­ri­ety of bog plants, in­clud­ing Ligu­laria den­tata ‘Des­de­mona’ (leop­ard plant), the tall, dra­matic

Eu­pa­to­rium mac­u­la­tum (Joe Pye weed), Filipen­dula ul­maria

(mead­owsweet), and the twisted Ch­elone obli­qua (shell flower).

WHAT MAIN­TE­NANCE DOES THIS AREA OF THE GAR­DEN NEED?

It is easy to care for this pond area be­cause the wa­ter is con­stantly mov­ing. How­ever, three or four times a year, we have to re­move gravel and de­bris from the streams that feed it, to pre­vent it from silt­ing up; we also clean out the pond ev­ery three or four years. In au­tumn, we cut back the peren­nial plants and mulch the soil with a cou­ple of inches of de­cayed leaves, which we col­lect from the sur­round­ing woods; the leaves feed the plants and en­sure healthy growth the fol­low­ing year.

DOES THE GAR­DEN LOOK DIF­FER­ENT AT OTHER TIMES OF THE YEAR?

In spring, we have more than 850 va­ri­eties of nar­cis­sus, which cre­ate a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play for vis­i­tors in April. The daf­fodils are fol­lowed by prim­u­las, in­clud­ing the yel­low Prim­ula beesiana from Nepal, and the Hi­malayan cowslip, Prim­ula florindae, to­gether with blue ca­mas­sias. In au­tumn, the Joe Pye weed is in full bloom, with each flow­er­head mea­sur­ing up to a foot in length. We also have some beau­ti­ful asters, and au­tumn colchicum (cro­cuses) to keep the show go­ing into Oc­to­ber and be­yond.

The nat­u­ral pond is fed by moun­tain streams. It had lain hid­den for years and we were de­lighted to be able to re­veal it in all its glory.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.