Meeting with Bertrande de Ladoucette, creator of the Jardins de Viels-Maisons

Meeting with Bertrande de Ladoucette, creator of the Jardins de Viels-Maisons

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One hour from Paris, the magnificent Viels-Maisons Gardens extend at the foot of an old 12th century Romanesque church in Picardy. On three hectares, the different parks follow one another but are not alike. Created thirty years ago by Bertrande de Ladoucette, with the help of landscaper Sonja Gauron, they offer a collection of plants that are always in great demand and are presented to us today with passion by their owner.

Tell us about your background…

Mother of five, I have lived in the countryside for years. Once my four boys were married, I quickly told myself that I had to find a good occupation so as not to annoy my stepdaughters too much. And the first thing that came to my mind was to create a garden. I had all this big park, a huge lot. So I could invent everything. I also prepared a nice setting to marry my little one this time and without really knowing it I was also going to revitalize my village. Because I designed this garden for myself, of course, but also to attract an audience of amateurs who, at the same time, could take a little tour in "my" church. It must be said that I love this church and I despaired of seeing it closed every day. With one of its doors adjoining my property, I gathered activities and developed a double attractiveness in the village of Viels-Maisons.

And what can you find in your gardens?

In total, there are seven: an analemmatic sundial, a collection of hydrangeas paniculatas, an English garden, a romantic garden, a wilder garden, the wood of the 23 small children and finally the garden of the 4 seasons, created there two years ago, in place of the French parish garden. The transformation of the latter was radical. I simplified everything because, for me who is 76 years old, the concept required too much work. Today, in this plot, I have four spaces that celebrate spring, summer, fall and winter in turn. The goal was to present everything that can be found as flowers or shrubs at any time of the year. And I keep looking for and sorting new plants by season, always in a didactic spirit.

Is this idea of ​​transmission that you like today?

Yes, because the audience has evolved enormously since my beginnings. Even if I still receive visitors who are simply curious, my garden is more frequented by connoisseurs, who are even harsh at times. And what strikes me even more is that they want to know everything, they are attentive to all kinds of advice, on treatment for example. They are always surprised to see that I do not have an aphid in my garden. I then give them a few tips on the role of bees, the advantage of lavender and even that of manure. Also, in March, I give courses in pruning old roses - the technique is very different from that of modern roses. It is then very easy to make these roses bloom all the time, from June to October. Then winter takes over.

But what exactly happens in winter?

The garden was "invisible" at that time. This is when we rework the flowerbeds and prepare the plants to face the low temperatures ... Most of my plants are perennials. I do not run garden centers in the spring. So I have to take care of it throughout the season. Because, since the transformation of my garden, it has to grow, to grow. But, me, what I especially like, in winter, it is to benefit from this garden. Because it is in the early morning, under the frost, that it reveals all its splendor. There are many grasses, trees with splendid colors and sweet scents… It is a real wonder! All practical information on the website: //www.jardins-vielsmaisons.net/