Garden Photo of the Day

An English-Inspired Garden in France

A small cottage garden

I garden in a village near Dijon in Burgundy, in France, and I am a new subscriber to Fine Gardening magazine, which I find very interesting, I had never read an American garden magazine before!

My garden is a small village garden, 600 square meters, with an old stone wall circling two sides of it. My husband Hervé and I bought the house in 1995, and I have been able since then to exercise my love of perennials. I am overfond of golden and variegated foliage to relieve the tedium of green, and I love bright colors. We have an Open Garden scheme in France too, and I open my garden to the public every year in June.

I was an English teacher, and every year I took my students to Kent in England on a school exchange. I thus had the fantastic luck of being able to visit such iconic gardens as Sissinghurst Castle Garden or Great Dixter every year for 10 years in a row. I was so smitten by what I saw that I tried to create a British atmosphere on my very modest scale in my little plot.

Here are ten garden vignettes.

pink rosesThis is the front garden, which is very tiny. There used to be gravel pits in a nearby village, and most houses in Saint Julien use gravel as a base for garden paths. The roses are ‘Pink Grootendorst’, bought in Scotland in 1998, ‘Marjorie Fair’, and ‘Robin Hood’.

Cotinus ‘Grace’The star of the garden is the centerpiece Cotinus ‘Grace’ (Zones 3–9), one of my three smoke trees which I bought for the sake of their fantastic colors, ‘Grace’ turns vermilion in the autumn. I love every opportunity of ways out of green.

The main path with its antique stone slabs, the rose trees are ‘Ballerina’, a fabulous moschata rose that repeats flowering until very late in season, ‘Evangeline’ on the arch, and ‘Sibelius’ in the distance. I have installed six arbors in the garden to echo my beloved English gardens.

‘Sibelius’ rose tree

My garden shed was imported from England, the rose tree is ‘Sibelius’, another fabulous moschata rose with a very unusual deep purple hue. The golden moment is Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’, which turns pink in October.

Marie-Antoinette’s vegetable garden replica

I also have a tiny version of Marie-Antoinette’s vegetable garden, where I grow fun plants like Mertensia, whose leaves taste of oyster, and Paederia lanuginosa, which tastes of camembert. The flowers are lysimachia (Lysimachia punctata, Zones 4–8), one of my favorite perennials, which has a perfect shape and is long-lasting and reliable.

heat-loving perennials

The “hot bed” with a choice of heat-loving perennials, the heat being provided by the reflection of the sun on the old stone wall. Salvia ‘Serenade’ (Zones 3–9), Campanula persicifolia (Zones 3–7), ‘Chevy Chase’ fabulous rose tree, and sweet-smelling white carnations, which we call “granny’s carnations” because they used to grow in every village garden in Burgundy.

PhalarisOne of my favorite plant combos, with tall Phalaris echoing slender Digitalis ‘Gerber Herold’ (Zones 3–9).

Variegated pallida irisesVariegated pallida irises (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’, Zones 4–9) are often sold as pond plants, but they also like dry gravelly spots.

Dictamnus albusA rare Dictamnus albus (gas plant, Zones 3–8) thrives in the reflection of the sun on the old garden wall.

My favorite plant combination in a shady area of the garden, from left to right: Hydrangea ‘Invicibelle’ (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invicibelle’, Zones 3–8), which is the pink version of universal ‘Annabelle’, Leucosceptrum ‘Golden Angel’, aka Japanese bush mint (Zones 5–8), Boehmeria platanifolia (Zones 5–8), Lysimachia ‘Firecracker’ (Zones 3–8), Persicaria amplicaulis (Zones 4–9), and spectacular Rodgersia aesculifolia (Zones 4–7). I love the way shapes and colors mix and match.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/28/2020

    Your gardens areas are truly delightful and you have a wonderful eye for interesting and appealing plant combinations. I love how you have pruned up your smoke trees to allow the graceful branching to add their own "wow" factor" to the fabulous foliage color. The rock wall is wonderfully picturesque and makes such a handsome backdrop for the plants as well as providing privacy for your backyard gardens. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful world with us.

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your appreciation of my garden, and your comment on the smoke trees. There are three of them in the garden, and we prune them drastically every year in March, which has made them grow into trees instead of just bushes as they often do.

  2. PattyLouise 05/28/2020

    Wow! Absolutely beautiful! Enjoyed the very inspiring tour!

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for enjoying the visit!

  3. nwphillygardener 05/28/2020

    What a beautiful garden! I can see from your photos that I would be happy to spend much time visiting your gardens and seeing all the thoughtful combinations and details. It is a treat to see a French garden paying honor to a English garden style.

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your comment, lots of French gardeners greatly admire English style gardens and try to emulate them.

  4. wittyone 05/28/2020

    Oh, just beautiful. I love all the various roses that you have provided and the smoke trees are wonderful. Here in southern Indiana I mostly see them as scraggeldy bushes that have grown too tall and need pruning. Yours make such graceful trees. I don't have one butI need to think about that as an option.

    Thanks for a peek into your great French/English Garden.

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your appreciation. Hard pruning in March is the secret for the shaping of our smoke trees. I love to think that American gardeners can see our garden!

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/28/2020

    Oh, my word!!! More, more, please!

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      With pleasure, I will send more photos if it is possible.

  6. annek 05/28/2020

    You’ve found the key to designing the perfect English garden. Bravo!

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your comment.

  7. sheila_schultz 05/28/2020

    Your gardens are dreamlike in their beauty with the stone walls as their backdrop. The combinations you have brought together are delightful, and the colors and textures divine. Lovely! Welcome to GPOD!

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your praise of my garden. Our house is 300 years old, and all the old village houses enjoy the same sort of rock walls.

  8. user-5117752 05/28/2020

    Ahhhhh! Heaven just dropped to Earth! Your choice of plantings, your combinations and that wall! To walk through your arbors must be a delight for the senses! Just curious, though, if this is an "English" garden, what does a "French" garden look like? No matter, you've brought joy to all of those peaking in! Merci!

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your comment. Lots of French gardeners thought that English style gardens were top notch, but the trend is more now in France to American style prairie planting.

  9. perennialgrdnr_z4b 05/28/2020

    A very lovely garden and wonderful photos. I really enjoy seeing English/French gardens and your great use of plants and planting combinations really makes me want to see more. I need to brush up on some unfamiliar (to me) perennials that I see used in your gardens. Thanks for sharing your garden.

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your appreciation of my garden. I would love to know if some of my unusual plants like the gas plant also grow in America, in our country it is originally a wild plant.

  10. User avater
    simplesue 05/28/2020

    Just gorgeous! I lingered here in your garden for a very long time!
    So much to see and found your garden story interesting to read!

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your comment, I also love to read about American gardens.

  11. btucker9675 05/28/2020

    What a wonderful French/English garden - spending time looking at your photos was like a mini-vacation to both places! C'est bon!!!

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      I love your idea of a mini-vacation, thank you for your comment.

  12. Cenepk10 05/28/2020

    Very very beautiful garden. I need to study it. Very grateful for you sharing !

    1. Julienoise 05/29/2020

      Thank you for your comment of my garden.

  13. Julienoise 05/29/2020

    What a pleasure to read all those comments from gardeners from so far away, and to read about American gardens in Fine Gardening magazine.

  14. arboretum 05/29/2020

    your entire posting is so very informative and beautifully designed. Just as it is, it would make a perfect feature in a magazine, but better yet, a chapter in a book. our 35 year old mini arboretum/garden is going to benefit immensely by your cotinus pruning technique.

    1. Julienoise 05/30/2020

      Thank you for your comment, I am interested to hear about your smoke trees, they are delightful trees and I see they are appreciated in the USA too.

  15. mgol1068 05/29/2020

    Lovely images of a beautifully laid out and tended garden. Félicitations! I love the golden highlights you have chosen as well.

    1. Julienoise 05/30/2020

      I must admit I have a weak point for all kinds of golden foliage which bring the excitement of home-made Technicolor.

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