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Each year, the Bonpland Prize highlights pleasure gardens that we would like to imitate and visit. Among the winners, Françoise Rouillier was awarded the 1st prize. Meet.
Why did you participate in the Bonpland Prize?
Visitors, members of the Horticultural Society of Touraine had suggested to me a few years ago to participate in this prize. I downloaded the file and faced with the number of questions, I backed off, then in winter settling down, I answered the questionnaire without illusion or ambition, at the start. But as the file was being developed, I felt the need for recognition by the professionals because this file had pushed me to an intimate knowledge of my garden, it had become a deserving being.
What are the specifics of your garden?
This garden is my interior itinerary, my memory (plants of the maternal garden: Daphneas, Peonies, Fuchsias). I was faced with three constraints: clay soil, land in the shade of large trees (cedars) and a steep slope. - The clay soil is a good fertile ground because wet, it retains the nutritive elements and it allows the anchoring of the shrubs. We have amended it on the surface by spreading our compost annually and by planting suitable plants. - The shade is often considered as limiting, but it is an opportunity for the gardener, it is changing, multiple according to the hours and the seasons. My husband and I, we observed, adapted, tamed the plants according to the lighting by using different varieties of perennials: ferns, hostas, astrentes, fuchsias, arisaemas, cardiocrinum, blétillas… - The slope, we had to play with it and make an asset. It sets the scene for the major view of the garden. I am a painter, engraver, I thought of a table placed on an easel; each plant is a brush stroke. This slope allows the staging, the natural development of the plantations and the waterway with its basins. The modest dimensions (2000m2 but in the city center) oblige us to have the attention to detail, each plant brings its particular note and our concern is to maintain the balance of the volumes of the shrubs which structure the garden in any season.
How did you imagine it?
One hardly imagines this street garden, which I thought of more than 25 years ago and implemented little by little, a gesture leading to another, without ever forgetting as in a painting the initial structure that I had Imagined. This work started, about twenty years ago when my children who became adolescents no longer played in this place. It is an artist's garden, it is an "atmosphere" garden, where I have played with spaces to train in reverie, rest, sharing. It is a concentrate of my dreams of beauty , of balance, it is a place of "resistance" as Gilles Clément writes. I have created intimate living spaces, "rooms" where we choose to spend a moment according to the seasons or our moods .
What advice would you give to those who want to get started in the creation of a garden?
Being enthusiastic, passionate, patient and real, you don't cheat with a garden. Go visit a lot of gardens, talk to the owners, go to plant fairs where you meet professionals who are good advisers. In practice, take a good look at the geography of the land, be attentive to the light, to the nature of the soil so as not to be disappointed in the plantations; You have to be reasonable and adapt, you don't create a Mediterranean garden in the North, nor an Alpine garden by the sea…
Can we visit your garden?
Our garden is a fragile place, and we are two people to maintain it, my husband and me. We open it to the public twice a year for the garden weekend in June and the heritage days in September, for the benefit of the Gardens and Health Association: www.jardins-sante.org. We welcome the plant grant organized by SHOT (Société d'Horticulture de Touraine) and we share with our friends our passion for theater, painting and reading.