Gorgeous private gardens open to the public in Loire and Aveyron

After the scorching heat of summer, our French-style gardens begin to bloom again with cooler nights and (hopefully) mild September rains.

It is a good time to visit the garden.

Dream garden in the Pays de la Loire

Shirley and Paul Edwards garden in Mayenne (La Bayette, 53190 La Dorée) is open as part of the Jardins Ouverts program on the weekend of 10-11 September, as well as sur rendez-vous at other times (Tel: 02 43 05 10 72).

Pursuing their long-standing dream of a garden, the couple devoted themselves to learning more about horticulture in their retirement years.

Paul worked in a garden near Wye after retirement, where he was introduced to the skills and magic of drywall, paving and arbor making.

Shirley, meanwhile, earned a degree with the Royal Horticultural Society and a six-week garden design course with Chris Beardsley.

The couple put new skills to work

Finally, in 2016, their dreams and preparation led them to the garden of La Bayette, where the fruits of their labor are evident on the one-hectare site, which they lovingly created from the blank canvas of a former pasture and embroidered with a fascinating range of landscaping features in discreet areas of the garden and planting styles to express different moods of the garden.

Dahlias look great in September

One of Shirley’s lifelong dreams was to have a fenced vegetable garden and she now has exactly that, complete with raised beds to aid cultivation as the couple get older.

The block walls were built by the two together, without any outside help and successfully protected an apricot, peach, fig and clematis (south wall), raspberry and asparagus canes (east), red currants, black currants and gooseberries (north wall).

The potager is open to the west, but that border is planted with large dahlias, which will look great in September.

The walled garden; Photo: Shirley Edwards

Exotic plantation

Shirley says the Exotic Garden, with its stream of water and waterfall (both created by Paul), will look particularly jaw-dropping in September.

Here you will find the lush foliage of bamboo, Musa sikkimensis (banana) ‘Bengal tiger’ (with striped leaves), Eucalyptus Nicolii (grown from seed and characterized by foliage that gives off a minty scent when bruised), the amazing black berries of American Phytolaccacarried on pink stems, ginger lilies (Edichio) And Colocasia (from which the root of taro derives).

A garden full of surprises

The winding paths covered with greenery lend a subtropical feel, making the visitor eager to explore further.

The sense of surprise when encountering a new area always provokes comment from visitors, much to Shirley’s delight.

Surprise encounters and frequent opportunities to rest on seats and benches to enjoy new views were things he deliberately incorporated into his design.

A nod to history in the topiary garden

Ripe for exploration elsewhere are the herb garden, the orchard, the herbaceous borders backed by lawns, the pool garden (with its winding and shady path), the greenhouses, the conifer border and the arboretum.

Do not miss the topiary garden, made with boxwood (until today no sign of the dreaded Bosso Bruco Falena).

The topiary garden; Photo: Shirley Edwards

La Bayette was originally an ancient monastery and after hours of research, Shirley and Paul have marked the history of the place with a cunning collection of topiary forms, each named for a medieval abbot.

Transformation of the garden into the Aveyron

by Elaine Morgan garden in the Aveyron (Maison de l’Arbre, Mas de Laurent, 12260 Villeneuve) is open by appointment only (Tel: 05 65 81 61 57).

Elaine and her Australian husband, David, now sadly no longer with us, moved into their home and garden in 2011.

Elaine initially thought she only wanted to cultivate small areas near the house, with a potager near the old orchard: “I didn’t want to be a slave and I can’t garden in the heat.”

She and her husband then began working on the “garden,” which was simply “farmland and weeds,” creating seven raised beds near the house, as well as some areas for flowers.

Headaches and experiments

The potager was a mistake, he confides: “Herbaceous perennials are what I like to grow.”

But the keynote of this garden was born almost by chance when the installation and excavation of a swimming pool bequeathed two circular terraces (for a total of about 1,000 square meters) that descend on two levels from the pool itself, supported by walls. supporting.

It took several unsuccessful experiments with wildflower mixes, not to mention the delivery of 3,700 young plants from the Netherlands before this area was transformed into what is now his favorite part of the garden, the Prairie Garden, inspired by Piet Oudulf’s drawings.

Planting in the prairie garden; Photo: Elaine Morgan

Good design is invisible

The natural curves of the paths through the planting areas were originally traced by David with hose.

A former engineer, he also devised an ingenious system for creating a plant plan: the whole area is based on a 3.5 to 1 m block pattern, with 24 plants per block.

In September, wandering among the jewel-like results of late summer flowers and swaying herbs, all this preparation is, as is the case with any good theatrical project, invisible to the eye.

“Some plants won’t thrive, celebrate those that grow”

Some of the plants that the Dutch truck brought to Mas de Laurent have run out, particularly the monarde, which still tend to be short-lived anyway.

But Miscanthus, Pennisetum, and Panicum thrive, along with Echinacea daisy flowers.

The stipas, like Stipa giganteait can be more complicated, Elaine says, since he likes a little summer humidity.

Although so many plants were initially delivered, Elaine still does quite a bit of propagation by division, but she’s always happy when things like Echinacea self-sow.

“I think you have to accept that some plants will not thrive and celebrate those that do and try to maintain an overall balance.

It may be important to remember that it is meant to be a pleasure, not a burden! ‘

The garden blends with the countryside; Photo: Elaine Morgan

Back to that pool that literally “sowed the seed” for the Prairie Garden.

Elaine spends many happy hours there now enjoying what she likes best about this place: “The main beauty of the garden, for me, is the way it blends into the fields beyond.”

Visit the Jardins Ouverts website for details of many more gardens opening this year.

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