Life in summer is unstoppable, overflowing all boundaries.
The sun shining on the warm and wet soil has brought out the best in the fields, and suddenly everything explodes at once. Every corner of the estate teems with life. Every surface crawls with tiny bugs and other creatures. Every breath of wind carries seeds and brings us bird song, the chirping of crickets. The glorious cacophony of life.
LISTENING TO THE WEEDS
Gardening often is about preventing nature from doing what it wants to do. We can hardly reign her in, so Thomas and I have joined forces with Mother Nature.
It has totally shifted my perspective on what needs doing. I’m learning to observe before I make a move. I let plants die in place. If weeds aren’t drawing some of the more delicate plants into a choke hold, I leave them. Where I plant heirloom roses, nature adds frivolous herb robert or geum in unexpected tangerine. My beds of lavender and sage get the company of lemon balm and thistles. Nature also isn’t one to shy away from bold statements. So, tender scatterings of sweet peas twine around giant teasel in a group composition. And how about wild fennel as an accent? Our gardener-in-chief also likes unexpected colour combinations, throwing in bright yellow and lilac wherever she can. And she loves grasses, so we’re learning to landscape with the wide range of heights and textures she provides. With gloriously wild results.
THERE WAS NEVER ANY PLAN
Over the last months, we’ve spent many days outdoors with our friend Frank, an art-historian-turned-garden-designer. So far, we never had any guiding plan for the grounds. We just went by our instincts, intuitively preserving and enhancing the spirit of Lescure. Frank has been opening our eyes to a conceptually adventurous way of thinking, grounded in both history and our current reality. As it turns out, not all grand ideas require excessive time and resources to keep it looking good.
Earlier this year, Frank wielded his magic around the bakehouse. As a trial, we extended the semicircular stone wall that Thomas built with a large plot of wild flowers. We also created two pathways to connect the bakehouse to the rest of the estate. I then planted over 30 creeping thyme, which I propagated from a mother plant. It’s looking promising!
Inspired by the work of landscape designer Jacques Wirtz, we clipped the large green border (all brambles and seedling trees) at the back of the house into an undulating cloud of foliage. We have no idea how this intervention will establish itself, but never mind. It’s all good play and experiment.
NEVER AT A STANDSTILL
We also explored ideas to bring back the view of the village from the chateau’s terrace. If the trees keep growing at their current rate, we will be completey enclosed by forest next summer. Just imagine! Big decisions about which trees to cut and which to keep need to made before winter.
It is going to take years for all our park and garden ideas to mature and match the luscious vision we have in mind. And even so, Lescure’s ‘gardens’ will never be finished as nature never stands still. But whatever changes are afoot (rumour has it the box tree mot is back in the area), we have a place where our imagination can run. Both inspiration and sanctuary for ourselves, our friends and guests.