Benchside Bliss

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Is there anything more glorious for a flower lover and avid reader than an outdoor bench in May? Nestled in a natural, ethereal garden, imagine looking up from your book to see a froth of cow parsley in the woods, or the serendipitous blend of self-sown flowers.

One of my greatest joys in this journey is shaping our natural surroundings. To ground the buildings and create a harmonious transition between the house, orchards, neighbouring fields, and the forest. We have done this by tirelessly clearing crowded and overgrown areas, restoring the basin and several old walls, and adding dry stone walls and stairs to stabilize the terrain. Each year, I dedicate countless hours to creating a series of smaller gardens that seamlessly blend with the existing landscape, using its natural growth to highlight some of my favourite plants. Antique roses! Equally important, given that the estate is so large, is the placement of benches. They are a sign of a welcome, even when our guests venture far from the house.


Early on, I began dreaming of having a bench to sit and take a moment to enjoy the beauty around me while working. A place to set down my tools, sip a drink, and take in the colours and scents of my surroundings. Naturally, since we believe every scratch, dent, and weathered surface tells a story, we exclusively used vintage pieces and old materials, transforming discarded items. Natural stone, aged wood, damaged fireplace mantels, a tree trunk—everything inspires us to create a garden bench. So now we have benches scattered all over the estate. Some have been discovered in a brocante shop, most were custom-made by Thomas. They are all inviting nooks for reading or relaxing, each with its own unique charm.

There are the orchard overlooks, located at the edge of the fruit orchards. Some are nestled under trees for the shade and offer views of the pond. Then there are those with a story, like the bench we created as “renovation candy”—a fun and manageable project to lift our spirits after a restoration episode that was particularly disappointing. These benches are a testament to our shared creativity. They are more than just seats; they are sanctuaries, places to gather inspiration and recharge. They remind me why I love tending to this place and provide a space to dream about the beauty yet to come.

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