We started to create a garden for Le Jardin Champêtre in Caunes-Minervois ready for opening the nursery in mid-April 2016.
The first tasks: Planting a double hedge along the boundary, adding trees for structure and shade, including Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree), removing the worst of the weeds – especially those with deep tap roots, and cutting the ‘grass’ for instant tidiness and to minimise self-seeding. There will be a wild zone plus a more landscaped area to demonstrate the plants we will have for sale.
We have kept some of the native flora which will fit in with the wild zone for now, including: the scented and bright yellow flowering Coronilla glauca (Glaucous Scorpion-Vetch), Calamintha nepeta (Lesser Calamint), Asphodelus luteus (Asphodel), Echium vulgare (Viper’s Bugloss), plus the occasional Verbascum. We may live to regret leaving those Verbascum…
Also, as this will be a wildlife garden, we haven’t taken any prunings or weeds to the tip. Instead, the bulk of what we’ve cut back or dug out is in a brash hedge. For compost bays, we’ve started with very simple structures using rusty ‘panneaux de dallage’ from a DIY shop, which is welded reinforcement mesh usually used for concrete. (Imogen used stronger versions of this for trellis at Pensthorpe.) They only just fit in the car when bent in half which has dictated the size of the compost bays!
We were very keen to start planting, of course, and have started with an area for partial shade. The levels are higher around the outside of this border where the most drought-tolerant plants are, and lower in the middle for the thirstier ones. This is a community of ground cover, bulbs, taller perennials and grasses, mainly in yellow, blue, purple and white, and densely planted to minimise weeding and create a natural look using layering.
Some of the plants in the new border…
Planting list and playing around with ideas for the rest of the garden. Just a little more planting to go!