Monday, 15 August 2011

15th AUGUST 2011

A sunny day and a quick drive to Dover. Then a smooth crossing and an easy, if long, drive to St Colombe pres de Vernon and then to Domaine de Folicoeur a beautiful old house nestling near a wooded valley, and the home of Claire and Joachim Knitter. Hollyhocks, roses, hydrangeas and lavander rambled over the soft grey stone giving me a preview of the pleasures to come. Old buildings converted, so sympathetically that, although from the outside theyare still old barns, Inside they have the touch of a collector and artist. Soft palest blues in the bedroom, aubergine in the bathroom, with the old woodwork in a greyish green. Outside a round metal table stained and worn, with four scrolled metal chairs. From the tiny terrace the land slopes down to a small wood past a few tomato plants growing on metal spirals, next to a cluster of fragrant red roses. A cockerel crows. Childrens voices grow tired towards evening and a violet campanula bows its head as the sun disappears behind the house. Toadlilies branch out over a white leaved lamium., and gradually cool breezes mark the dying breath of the day. I have been designing gardens and planting schemes for many years only recently becoming obsessed with potagers. Fascinated by their historical origins as much as by their relevance to planting design today, I had come to France to explore as many old and famous gardens as I could in a brief four day stay.

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