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.
This 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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of my favorite plant combos, with tall Phalaris echoing slender Digitalis ‘Gerber Herold’ (Zones 3–9).
Variegated pallida irises (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’, Zones 4–9) are often sold as pond plants, but they also like dry gravelly spots.
A 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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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.
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.
Wow! Absolutely beautiful! Enjoyed the very inspiring tour!
Thank you for enjoying the visit!
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.
Thank you for your comment, lots of French gardeners greatly admire English style gardens and try to emulate them.
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.
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!
Oh, my word!!! More, more, please!
With pleasure, I will send more photos if it is possible.
You’ve found the key to designing the perfect English garden. Bravo!
Thank you for your comment.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thank you for your comment, I also love to read about American gardens.
What a wonderful French/English garden - spending time looking at your photos was like a mini-vacation to both places! C'est bon!!!
I love your idea of a mini-vacation, thank you for your comment.
Very very beautiful garden. I need to study it. Very grateful for you sharing !
Thank you for your comment of my garden.
What a pleasure to read all those comments from gardeners from so far away, and to read about American gardens in Fine Gardening magazine.
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.
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.
Lovely images of a beautifully laid out and tended garden. Félicitations! I love the golden highlights you have chosen as well.
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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