Well I have been back home now for a week, and le Jardin de Berchigranges, isn’t in Mitteleuropa, but in France, on the way back home, but the Vosges mountains do feel a bit like central Europe. It is a lovely setting in which to create a garden, and this particular one blends into its landscape perfectly. It is the garden I think I would like to create if I had the time, the commitment to opening it to the public, and an endless source of robinia logs.
I was absolutely blown away, which to be honest I am very rarely these days.
|Knew the garden was going to be good when i met these box|
The planting, needless to say is very naturalistic, with some bold new departures, such as asters growing in rough grass, lots of self-seeding, and the feeling that the plants have a large say in deciding where they grow. There are lots of just the kind of additional elements I love - slightly whacky, imaginatively creative touches in the form of buildings, sculptures, odd structures, unexpected views. There is hardly a straight line in the place, so the massive hornbeam hedge ‘structure’ at one end of the garden which reads like a fortress has all the more impact. What I particularly like is how they have achieved structure without using cement, brick and the usual array of ‘hard landscaping’ materials (I have a deep loathing of hard landscaping). Much of this is by using logs rammed vertically into the ground with the gaps between them filled with soil, and needless to say plants - so dealing with elevations. Its all so inventive. And technically, really well done. I love it! I love it! I love it!
The house, is so like our own ‘pavilion’, even down to the angle of the roof and the ornamental ‘dagging’ fascia. Clearly people after my own heart. I can’t wait to get back here.
Before leaving Germany
I dropped in on Ewald Hügin, who is one of the most talked about nurserymen in Germany. His nursery is reassuringly British, which is a way of saving its idiosyncratic, rather untidy and full of really unusual plants. He has created some very good display gardens since I was last here – perennials and annuals together, wonderfully colour schemed.
And on the way back.
France’s reputation for good summer planting is now well-known and appreciated this side of the channel. I dropped into Metz on the long drive home, which markets itself as a ‘ville de jardin’. The plantings I saw were in a way nothing special for France, but streets ahead of anything you see back home. What I like about them is the sheer inventiveness and range, and they look very well trialled, in terms of composition, getting height and spread right – that kind of thing. There is obviously a whole genre of planting design here . Why isn’t anybody in Britain doing anything like this? I mean, why?
|Spot the celery!|
To illustrate the inventiveness, in the park I looked at in Metz, there was a very glossy leaved plant which looked vaguely familiar, obviously an umbellifer – a bite proved it to celery. This lateral thinking approach to planting design is what I love about the French style – and you see it in Germany sometimes too.Final stop en route to the ferry was Chris Ghyselen just outside Bruges in Belgium (or perhaps I should say Flanders). I’ve wanted to meet him for years, as Belgium has not figured highly in the new perennial movement; he combines a classically Flemish love of hedges with a passion for plants. And some very clever little secret paths through the garden, so very much a garden where there is so much more than what you see at first.