On a wet Saturday at the end of June I went to visit a garden with my French neighbour Christine and her friend Martine. The garden in question is just outside Briquebec and belongs to a celebrity gardener who hosts a programme called ‘Silence Ca Pousse’. What the programme is about is best summarized on the translated Wikipedia entry. Stephane Marie is a bit of a cult figure in France, rather as Alan Titchmarsh is, or was, to the British viewing gardeners, females so I’m told, in particular.
At 10 a.m. Stephane Marie emerged from his house and proceeded to give us a guided tour around the different areas of his garden. I was struck by the number of perennials in his collection which feature in ours. He clearly likes the large showy Oriental poppies, foxgloves, Hellebores, Phlomis, Iris, Alllium, Astrantia. He even had one clump of the graceful grass, Briza media, just as we do in St V. I noticed an absence of Delphiniums and asked him about this. He said he could not get them to succeed. As with a visit to any garden I came away with ideas. Hellebores can do well if planted in a large enough pot. A Trachelspermum jasminoides can be trained in a very structured form. I love what he has done with the area of gravels outside his kitchen, living area. I will negotiate with Nick to allocate a small area of our rear gravels to allow more desirable self-setters to establish.