Domaine du Prieuré
Domaine du Prieuré is situated just outside Tourrettes-sur-Loup on the way to Grasse with the Courmettes mountain in the background. The 'Mas' (farmhouse) is about 200 years old. Mrs. Joanna Millar and her husband bought the property in 1969. 44 years later, the garden is mature and lush, planted with many interesting trees, shrubs, roses and perennials.
The garden is on several 'restanques', with very old olive trees. The olive trees lower branches have been pruned in order to have a high canopy. Around the olive trees, flower beds have been created, shrub roses and ramblers surround the old olive trunks. In addition there are beds along the edges of the restanques. Trees and shrubs are dotted about. The planting is free flowing, with plants that are allowed to seed themselves in different parts of the garden.
The visit started at the bottom restanque. The first flower bed we came across was filled mostly with different Lavenders, Lavandula dentata was in flower. In the same bed were some 'green leaved' Santolina pinnata and the wild Gladiolus italicus (Field Gladiolus).
On the other side of the Lavender bed, the lower branches of a Cotinus coggygria have been removed and underplanted with Urginea maritima bulbs, flowering in August, at a time when not a lot of things are in flower.
We slowly wound are way up, restanque after restanque. Some of the more unusual trees on the restanques were: Umbellularia californica (Californian Bay Tree) with very fragrant leaves.
Koelreuteria paniculata, the English name for the tree is 'Golden Rain' because of its panicles of yellow flowers. A tree we could plant in our area as I've seen it growing in Paris and the calcaire soil should not be a problem according to Mrs. Millar.
Some of the shrubs and perennials we came across were: Exochorda x macrantha, a lovely white flowering shrub; Vestia foetida, a yellow flowering Solanum, unfortunately not yet in flower.
Mahonia x media with wonderful blue-black berries, in the winter its yellow flowers are one of the important sources of nectar for visited bees:
Ferula communis giganteum (Giant Fennel), a white flowering Ferula, the yellow flowering variety is more common:
The large leaved, yellow flowering Phlomis russeliana:
Dracunculus vulgaris, with its deep burgundy coloured spath, it has a foetid smell:
A lovely purple leaved Sambucus, Sambucus nigra 'black lace':
A Salvia variety that you find all over the garden is Salvia interrupta, a half-hardy, mid-blue flowering Salvia with white markings, native of Morocco
A very unusual Solanum, Solanum mauritianum, with soft leaves:
A blue flowering Cerinthe:
Some of the roses: Rosa 'Sally Holmes':
A 'Peter Beales' Bourbon rose, Rosa 'Bairii no.2';
Rosa 'Rambling Rector':
Rosa 'Felicite et Perpetue'; a deep pink Gallica rose, Rosa 'Duc de Guiche' and the rose below: Rosa 'Buff Beauty'
and on the walls of the house Rosa 'Paul's Scarlet Climber' together with Jasminum polyanthum in the middle and Solanum jasminoides on the left:
One of Mrs. Millar's tips was: 'hang old cd's in fruit trees to prevent the birds from eaten the fruit'.
Before leaving we were treated to a glass of Kir and some nibbles. It was a lovely garden and a very pleasant hostess.
Le Jardin des Fleurs de Poterie
After a quick lunch in Gattières, we visited our next garden 'Le Jardin des Fleurs de Poterie'. It is the most unusual garden I've ever seen. Anne-Marie Deloire is a potter by profession. This is straight away apparent as soon as you enter through the gate. The path is inlaid with bit of pottery.
Pottery flowers filled with small succulents are planted in the border.
Anne-Marie Deloire does not use a potters wheel, all her creations are made by hand. She rolls out clay, like you would do for pastry, and cuts out the length and width she requires. She then drapes it over a pot and shapes it, 3 layers can be made this way. It is then dried and when dry, fired. For the larger pots she slowly builds them up, she works one hour in the morning and again one hour at night. Her pots are a work of art.
Anne-Marie and Raymond Deloire bought the land (1500 m2) in 1983, initially to build their own house. The walls all needed to be reconstructed and as Anne-Marie is a potter, she has put her personal touch in building her walls. Some are with decorated pots set into the walls, others are with shells or any other material that she managed to bring back from holidays, found in vide-greniers or brocantes. The garden is separated into areas, each with a topic.
She never meant to open the garden to the public, the garden was created for their own pleasure, it just developed that way. In 2003 is was formally opened.
As you enter the garden, a path leads to the house, bordered by structural, very often leafy trees, shrubs and perennials. Anne-Marie uses a lot of Tree Paeonia, for their leaves as well as for their flowers, most of them had finished flowering but one was still going strong. When we saw the colour, we were all amazed.
'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu'
on the other side was an Acacia bailleyana with its young red shoots:
and a little further on balls of Tillandsia argentea. Anne-Marie has an ingenious way of forming them into balls by wrapping the end of the Tillandsia around itself.
Don't we learn something new with every garden visit!
Looking across from the Tillandsia you can see the Banana trees with Clay Totem poles:
and as you turn the corner the Phyllostachys nigra:
Just before the potager and the green houses is the 'Kitsch Wall':
The potager is devided into raised square beds. Posts are hammered into the soil in each corner of the bed, and an extra one in the middle. Bamboo poles are threaded between the posts, till the raised bed has reached the required height. From the inside, large roof tiles or in some cases concrete slabs are positioned against the framework (not visible from the outside). The raised bed is then filled up with earth.
A compost area has been created in a corner. Two posts, one close behind the other, on both ends of the compost area, are hammered into the ground. Between the vertical posts, horizontal wooden posts are slotted in one by one as a sort of door to hold in the compost. When the compost is ready, the posts are removed one by one, once emptied the whole process starts again, raw material is added, as the raw material increases in volume, the vertical poles are replaced one by one. The structure blended well into the kitchen garden, very inobtrusive.
The soil in the garden is much the same as we have here. Anne-Marie improves it yearly by covering the beds with a layer of compost.
Below is a list of many of the plants in the garden:
Abutilon; Agapanthus; Almond Tree; Judas Tree; Banana Trees; Bamboo; Bauhinia; Beschorneria (near the pool area with large reddish flowers); Brugmansia; Box; Cacti; Catalpa; Cerinthe; Cherry Tree; Lemon Tree; Coronilla; Cosmos; Cotinus; Crinum; Cycas; Clematis; Clementine Tree; Clerodendron; Dogwood; Ferns; Gingko biloba; Grasses; Pomegranite; Honeysuckle; Horsetails; Hortensia; Jasmin; Kiwi; Lotus; Macleya; Muehlenbeckia; Mulberry; Myrtle; Nigella; Olive trees; Osmanthus; Palms; Photinia; Paeonies; Petrea volubilis (climber); Phormiums; Pittosporum; Poppies; Romneya; Roses; Sarcoccoca; Salvia; Sophora; Talia (water plant); Tamarisk; Tuberose; Violets; Wisteria; Zinnia and many more.
This is a garden you don't easily forget. I think all the members who came on this trip, enjoyed the two gardens, both so different in style.
Photos: A big thank you to: Mavis McQuade; Gerda Nagtegaal; Isabel Pardoe; Cindy Roine; Irene Spikens and Web.