A thin layer of stony argilo-calcaire soil over-lays limestone rock. Sometimes it is possible to break up the rock to form a deeper planting hole. Sometimes a large rock of ironstone proves impossible to move. The plants have been chosen to cope with the extremes of weather, as far as can be envisaged, temperatures from -22 C to almost +40C have been experienced. It was very fortunate that the property was able to join in an irrigation scheme which was laid on for the agriculteurs in the early 1980s.
The main part of the garden consists of mixed borders, in the cottage garden style, leading from the ovenhouse terrace to the ‘kiosque’ at the far end. The borders are planted with herbaceous plants, flowering shrubs and a few roses, including the big Rosa Macranthas, which do not seem to attract the deer which roam in the fields and sometimes devastate the hybrid tea roses. There are many varieties of Viburnum, Philadelphus, Hibiscus, Phlomis, Lavatera, Deutzia, as well as Exochorda, Indigofera. Kolkwitzia, Perovskia and many others, all beautiful in flower. Between shrubs and small trees, (varieties of Prunus, Malus, and a lovely Xanthocerus sorbifolium planted near its relation the Koelreuteria paniculata) are planted many herbaceous plants and self-sowing annuals, Grasses, Yuccas and Euphorbias, also find a place. There is a large collection of Irises and Hemerocalles and also some Oriental Poppies, Agapanthus, and Japanese Anemones and Asters in September. There are also Tulips, Camassias and other bulbs in Spring, Crinums and finally Colchicums in the Autumn. A seat in the Kiosque gives a stunning view back down the borders to the walnut tree beside the oven-house.
Rising to the higher level, there is an area in which can be seen the original terracing for vines and which has been designated as a ‘wild garden’, where wild flowers and orchids are left to grow until July. A few small trees and shrubs are included, such as Ptelea trifoliata, Amelanchier laevis and the viciously spiked Colletia armata ‘Rosea’ with tiny fragrant pink flowers in Spring and/or Autumn.
On the higher level, above the kiosque, there is a rock pond with small cascade, which attracts wild-life, toads and their tadpoles, sometimes salamanders and newts. A stone bench beside the pond affords a stunning panoramique view across the (as yet) unspoilt countryside.
From this corner a border of many different shrubs, runs along the roadside and leads to the carpark, passing a Parrotia persica with its wonderful Autumn colours, a beautiful Malus coronaria ‘Charlottae’ and on the lawn by the car park a magnificent Malus floribunda. On passing into the Jardin Clos, to the right there is a large Viburnum x burkwoodii and a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’. Then the path enters into the Jardin Clos, in the corner of which a large citerne collects water from the roof, which was destined for the animals. Before arriving at the citerne one passes a large Laurus nobilis angustifolia (‘Willow-leaf Bay’). The far corner of the garden was first planted with hybrid tea roses. Some of these remain and have been interplanted with herbaceous plants, including Crinum x powelli which has now survived many winters. Below an ancient box tree, clipped to form a shelter from the sun, is a stone seat. In areas traced by the paths in the form of a cross, vegetables are grown. A disused electricity post still disfigures the garden after 30 years, but we have been once more told that it will be taken down, after which we plan to replant the beds beneath it.
Leaving the walled garden and crossing the entrance to the ancient farm, a meadow behind the barn has been planted with iris beds and below this, a corner, (once a rubbish dump), has a magnificent Itea.illicifolia, hung with wonderfully scented catkins in July, and a Rose ‘Felicité et Perpetue’ and other plantings. Then the path remounts past an ancient fig tree to the former farmyard.
All these beds overlook the vast panorama of hay meadows full of wild flowers in May and June, and the surrounding woods, including the view to ‘la fontaine’ where water accumulates in the rainy season and which was formerly the source of water for domestic use.
A small pond has been created near the entrance to the bread ovenhouse to accommodate a huge stone which was found nearby. The stone has natural water-bored holes and water now flows by means of a pump, out of the holes into the surrounding tank.