The Secret Gardens of Gascony

Another of France's well kept secrets and hidden treasures, the gardens of Gascony are a joy to visit. Each one is a reflection of its owner's individual creativity and plantmanship. All the senses are catered for in terms of visual and sensory appeal and the designs and planting are unique to each garden. Many of these are newly created and are in rural settings. Great care has been taken to ensure they sit comfortably within the larger landscape, blending subtly into the greater spaces. Sympathetic and clever design ensures an intriguing meld of materials and plants.

Traditional "English style" gardens have been re-interpreted by other nationalities with surprising results. Some gardens have a modern and sometimes architectural feel within their ancient enclosures. Others have a strong re-cycled ethos with old items given a new lease of life under a different guise.

Gardening in Gascony is no easy task. Summers with little or no rain, temperatures swinging between 35C + and -16C (our 12m x 6m outdoor pool froze over!) and predominantly clay soil which is either unworkable in winter when it's soggy and heavy or unworkable and rock-like in summer when it's dried out, cracked and crazed. Throw the odd hailstorm and hurricane into the mix and you can see what I mean! That leaves a planting window of spring or autumn. And as regards weeding - don't even go there! I could tell you about my first encounter with a snake, but that may just put you off entirely!

As always, the human spirit and need to create gardens triumphs, and this presentation will show and describe the highs and the lows of doing so.

Many other garden and horticultural presentations are also available. A selection is shown below but for a full current list please email me.

Making the most of a small garden or courtyard.

Sizzling September: Plants for late season colour.

Edible flowers and taster recipes.

The High Line.

USA East coast gardens (Charlotteville, Salem etc)

Contact me for more information or to book a presentation.

The Chelsea Gold medal experience.

Possibly the oldest participant in 2006 to plant up a show garden and be totally involved right from conception to completion, I cannot begin to describe the exhilaration and sheer shock at gaining a Gold. But I'll try! In conjunction with four fellow students from Leeds Metropolitan University we had the gall and sheer chutzpah to fancy our chances at taking a garden to Chelsea as our final study year option. We were of course all totally unaware of what this involved, but like most student decisions it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a life changing experience for all of us.

If you'd like to hear the full unexpurgated story, contact me