Visiting the Jardin d’Ode

Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 048This post is really just to prove two things: first, that I do, occasionally, go out; and secondly that Lorraine has more gardens worthy of a visit than one might imagine.

I wouldn’t say we were a Mecca for garden lovers, but the gardens are there, if you know where to look.

Last week I visited this woodland garden, the Jardin d’Ode, with some friends. We were mainly in search of plants to buy. The garden is run by a mother/father/son team and they have a small nursery attached. Unfortunately they were in the midst of a massive upheaval and many of the plants were doing an unlabelled walkabout or were too tiny to sell.

But the garden itself is worth the visit. Romantic plantings of aquilegia, foxgloves, geraniums and so forth, all in a rather dreamy, but intimate, setting. When I was there last year the owners described it to us as a ‘jardin à l’anglais’. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 009 Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 006 Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 049 Yes – it’s really rather romantic as gardens go … Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 032 As romantic as this photographer! Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 002 This is a smallish garden (the whole site, including the nursery, is just over an acre).There are a number of different styles and areas under development, but the heart and genesis of the garden has clearly been the shelter provided by mature trees.

I do wish I’d asked if the owners had planted them themselves … One of those trees I recognise, I think, as a result of my walnut investigation!Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 030 Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 031 Lorraine is definitely not as hot as some areas in France (we rarely experience true drought, although watering at the moment is becoming a bit of a bore). But the plants will nevertheless appreciate the overhead canopy and it’s nice to see that they are happy snuggling up to what appears to be a Juglans regia.

As well as birch, which can be tricky in a woodland garden because they are such greedy, surface-rooting trees. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 008 And a cool pond to rest the visitor on a hot day. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 057 There are newer plantings of shrubs and small trees as well. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 021 Such as this wonderful Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 076 And what is rather an interesting attempt at a cloud-pruned Lawson’s cypress or perhaps a thuja? I’m not very interested in these conifers – pines being my only conifer loves – so I didn’t move in closer for a look, apologies. [Note added Saturday 13 June: a friend suggested – and I’m pretty sure he is correct – that this is actually a Juniperus media ‘Hetzii’. Have a look at the link here if you are interested.]

The rather pretty ‘cloud-pruned one’ marks the way to a change of mood in a Japanese-style garden where rhododendrons surprised my eye, simply because I can’t grow them here and I live only about a half hour away. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 065 Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 066 Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 023Best of all, the owners seem to have a bit of a ‘seat’ obsession. I heartily approve. The Jardin d’Ode taught me very clearly that I should be looking at brocantes (junk/antique dealers – even in agricultural equipment) for garden furniture and other items worth painting up.

I loved this chair and table in the ‘bambooserie’ (although I noticed that they had had to hack away at the surrounding bamboos a bit to restrain their enthusiasm). Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 025Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 027 And places to shelter from the hot sun: a seat at the end of a rose pergola and a gazebo which should provide for the tired garden aficionado in years to come when its roses are really up and running. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 016 Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 018 One did really feel the underlying structure without seeing massive evidence of expenditure in the form of expensive paving, pergolas or summerhouses. I think that’s quite a clever trick. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 041 And I wish I had one of these! Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 069 They do well here to add a new area of the garden every year, given that it seems only three of them work it. The last time I visited there was no trace of what has (out from under cover of the trees) become a succulent garden – quite astounding to see opuntias flourishing in Lorraine with our regular -15 winter lows. Or am I demonstrating my lack of opuntia knowledge? Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 053 A few plants leapt up and said ‘look at me!’ For instance this plant, growing up through metal hoops. I think it could be a herbaceous clematis and took the picture to ask before I left, then promptly forgot. Any thoughts? Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 001 And what a lupin! Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 042 This graceful peony was much more apricot in colour than my picture shows. Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 011 Tree Following & Jardin d'Ode 073 As I said, there are only three of them making this charming garden. What a place to enjoy the fruits of your labour at the end of a long summer’s day. Do visit Jardin d’Ode either virtually by taking a look at their website – or you could always visit in reality and stay overnight at Châtillon-sur-Saône!

25 thoughts on “Visiting the Jardin d’Ode

  1. sophos

    Dreamy! I went on holiday to Croatia and although there were some beautiful mediterranean blooms, I think I prefer my gardens “a’ l’anglaise” (my kingdom for a pond). As for the peony – I have the same problem with my new roses – photos come out a flat yellow, without the apricot and pink accents I see.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I would love to be able to go there John, having read so much about it. It will have to wait until we are slightly more in control of the house and garden here! At the moment we don’t have holidays …

      Reply
  2. rusty duck

    That looks rather pleasant. I’ve been trying to think of somewhere I could put that wide and curvy grass path and deep borders.. it’s a great feature.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Yes Jessica, I can understand that might be a toughie for you! Had you ever thought of putting a path that does hairpin bends to descend your precipitous slope (would have to be in gravel, with sleeper retainers/steps)?

      Reply
  3. Julie

    What a beautiful garden Cathy, looks like a really wonderful way to spend a day out. Love the light in your photos too. We have friends who have moved to Limousin and I tried to research French gardens en route or even vaguely in France, but I haven’t found a good website to help. Do you recommend any?

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Julie: glad you enjoyed. There’s a big garden visiting day run by the Ministry of Culture and Communication the first weekend in June, called ‘Rendez-vous aux jardins’. If you try: http://rendezvousauxjardins.culturecommunication.gouv.fr/Programme?search%5Bpassed%5D=1&search%5Bwhat%5D=%20
      you will be able to search for gardens in any area. Much like the ‘Yellow Book’ gardens in England, some will only have been open that weekend. But it does provide a guide on opening times throughout the year, I think. You can also go for the menu option to do it all in English (to the left of the page) if you feel you’ll get more out of it. Happy garden visiting – I look forward to the results!

      Reply
  4. mattb325

    What a beautiful garden. I really love that lupin. It’s great to see that the garden is made up of things that could be found and repurposed, it lets the glorious and romantic plantings shine, and, as you say, is much friendlier on the finances!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Isn’t the lupin gorgeous! I felt really inspired by this ‘repurposing’ idea, as you put it. It opens up whole new garden vistas for those on a budget!

      Reply
  5. Amy

    Thanks for sharing this lovely garden with us, Cathy! It’s refreshing and inspiring 🙂 I’ve felt a little sheepish about referring to my garden-style as “English”, in light of all the different gardening styles there, but perhaps it is a fair-enough term for that lush, romantic look… I have a long way to go to achieve it!
    The opuntias must have been a bit of a shock, but they are fairly cold-hardy. I recall being equally shocked to see one growing wild on a rocky slope in Kansas City, where temperatures regularly drop to -21 C!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks so much for reporting on the opuntias Amy – I had forgotten to google and you’ve answered my inner questioning!

      Reply
  6. pbmgarden

    Glad you had a chance to visit this garden and share it with us. Quite lovely. It’s always a treat to stroll around others’ gardens for ideas.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      It’s something I don’t do nearly enough of Susie – I’ve had so much to do here and all the gardens I could visit are at a bit of a distance. I hope to do it more, because you expand your inner repertoire or ‘dictionary’ only by looking at other people’s creativity. Another good reason for enjoying blogs!

      Reply
  7. Annette

    Lots to discover in this garden – I also like the romantic planting and the way the French incorporate brocante into their gardens. Did you visit it as part of the rendez-vous aux jardins? Is yours open for visitors too? Happy weekend, Cathy 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Hi Annette – will shortly pop over and look at your roses, just posted I see! I never have any time to do anything (what with doing this garden on my own) – but I’m slowly getting there – although I missed the Rendez-vous aux jardins this year. Next year I’m going to open the garden on each of our village Renaissance fete days (in May, July, and twice in August), as well as starting opening some Sundays and having a tulip weekend and a rose weekend. We are trying to really breathe life into this village again (now have a museum, an art gallery, a gallery and interior deco shop, and a bookshop dealing in the fairies/ghosts/witches of Lorraine!). Oh, and there’s a restaurant, tea room and a jeweller who works on site. Opening the garden will be playing our part. If I ever find time (stormy this morning!) I’d like to blog about the village again.

      Reply
      1. Annette

        Sounds like plenty of reasons to visit your area, Cathy – pity, it’s not around the corner! As regards never having enough time: join the club 😉 It seems to get worse and worse with ‘social’ media taking up a lot of time. Sometimes I feel so tired and wish I could curl up underneath a rose bush and get some peace….maybe, when I’ve strimmed and mowed the grass…don’t forget to pop in when you’re in my corner of France. I’ve visited the Jardin des plantes last weekend in Cassagnes-Begonhès which was great. A lot of the gardens open outside the RDV which is good. I’ve just been made delegate for Parcs et Jardins for the Aveyron…how on earth did that happen?! Wish there’d be more hours in the day!

      2. Cathy Post author

        Wow – you are taking on a lot Annette. But I know what you mean about being to tired for social media. It is a shame you are so far away, I would love to have visited your garden – it looks so very special … maybe someday we will finally have a holiday and travel!

  8. Island Threads

    your first photo Cathy makes me want to wander the green path, it looks like a drowsy summers day in dappled shade and sun, hearing the buzz of the insects and chatter of the birds, there are a lot of beautiful blooms, I like your comment about seeing the structure of the garden without there being evidence of lots of expense, my kind of gardening, I have become disillusioned with a lot of the renown gardens as it is evident you need money to do it, I am surprised at you saying your lows in winter can drop to -15, are you at a high altitude? that is much low than here where it rarely goes below zero and -5 would be extreme, hmm the sea has a lot of influence here, I know it’s hot for you but thanks for share some summer warmth and flowers, Frances

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Glad you enjoyed Frances! We have a very continental climate – not anywhere near the sea – a little like Alsace/Germany/Switzerland. So really pretty hot in summer and very cold in winter – I like it. It’s the first time since my childhood in Canada that I’ve really begun to enjoy the seasons again!

      Reply
  9. Chloris

    Beautiful. This is the sort of garden I love. Romantic and dreamy with interesting corners. I always thought the French liked more formality in the garden. I believe in having lots of seats too, even if I don’t always get chance to sit in them, guests enjoy them. In fact after a garden opening on Sunday, I found people lingering on a seat at the bottom of the garden long after we had closed and everyone had gone home. They were having a picnic!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      They did say they were trying to create a jardin a l’anglais. I loved it too – and actually I just think seats make wonderful focal points. Wish I could have been at your garden open day – obviously your last to leave guests loved it and didn’t want to leave!

      Reply
  10. gardeninacity

    I do love this garden. It is interesting that many people, in France and out, refer to any garden with lots of color and abundant, billowing plants as an “English garden”. Is Giverny an English garden? I have a neighbor from Bosnia who referred to my garden as an English garden, which isn’t how I think of it. Anyhow, there is lots in this garden to admire – especially those lupines and the Cornus alternafolia. And I also like all the chairs, which look like American Adirondack chairs to me. And I love the word ‘bambooserie’. It makes me think of a place where one is bamboozled, which is an American idiomatic expression for being tricked or swindled. Or is this word used in the UK also?

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      You are so right in your ‘English garden’ comment, Jason! I can never understand that as well. And as an avid reader of French gardening magazines, I can testify that many fine private French gardens are in the same style – just an expression (impression – from Giverny!) of ourselves. And I’m sure all the owners are not calling them ‘a l’anglais’. As to bamboozled – yes we do use the word. I recently read the term bambooserie and it stuck.

      Reply

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