Colourful day out for a good cause

July is prime time for garden visits under the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts scheme. Jane Hanks picks four

Published Last updated

There will be gardens open every weekend in July plus on Wednesday 4 and Friday 6 throughout France as part of the Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts scheme which encourages gardeners of all nationalities to open up their gardens, big and small to the public, to raise funds for charity.

Visitors buy a €10 membership card which gives them access to any of the gardens for one year or pay €5 for a Day Pass which allows access to any of the gardens on the day of purchase. There is also the Anniversary card, which costs €35 and gives access to privately owned gardens as well as a growing list of prestigious French gardens, which usually charge an entrance fee but are offering Open Garden members free entry with the card. This is the association’s sixth year.

In 2018, Open Gardens aims to have 200 gardens in 33 departments. Last year they were able to hand over €23,500 to eleven chosen French charities.

Around ten gardens will be open at the same time in Guerlédan, Côtes-d’Armor. One of them is:

2, Rue Catherine Daniellou, Saint-Guen, Guerlédan, Côtes-d’Armor;

Owner : Jacqueline Bertho

Jacqueline Bertho is married to a Breton, is a local councillor and has worked hard to get her commune involved in a community open garden weekend. “There is a lot to see. The oldest gardeners are a French couple in their eighties who have a magnificent garden in a beautiful setting. They have lots of flowers and perennials and an enormous vegetable garden. It is rather hidden away so this is a wonderful chance to see it.”

She says she has been amazed by the response. “We run a gardens competition in the commune and my fellow councillor who organises it was happy to help me out and contact people who had been in the competition. There will be three ticket sales points, including my garden, where you will be given a list of the other gardens, plus directions. I hope visitors may be tempted to come on both afternoons so they can benefit from all the gardens.”

It is the kind of project President Mick Moat wants to encourage so that visitors can really benefit from seeing several gardens on the same day. Mrs Bertho says it has been hard work but that Mick Moat has been very helpful and encouraging and she hopes they will be able to raise a lot of money.

Her own garden has plenty of interest in it. “It is unusual”, she says, “because there is a mix of styles. My husband has always dreamt of living in Provence and he started planting in 2000-2002 and added water features. I arrived in 2008 and added my passion for an English country garden, so together we have created a Mediterranean garden with herbaceous borders.”

The climate in Brittany is usually kind to gardeners and allows this varied planting, though this year has been a challenge: “For the first time in five years we had heavy frosts and then three months of solid rain did not help as the plants did not like sitting in the damp. However, they are reviving now. My garden is not enormous, about 1,000m² but it is well filled and has won prizes and there are a lot of different things to see.”

Open June 30 and July 1, 14.00-18.00

Les Jardins du Coq, Montignac-le-Coq, Charente;

Owner: Gerald Chambord

Gerald Chambord always knew that one day he would create a garden, and a career change in his forties meant that in 2012 he could start on his dream, which has resulted in a garden he opens to the public for six months of the year, and on one day, for Open Gardens.

He says it is simple and personal, and reflects his love of the natural world and cannot be categorised under any particular style. There are three parts; themed rose gardens dedicated to countries he has visited and people he has met; a wild garden and lavender field, with around 1,000 plants which will be in flower in July; and a lake and woodland area.

New this year is a Green Museum, which he says is both a herbarium and a cabinet of curiosities. On the walls there are dried and pressed examples of the plants growing in the local area and a different theme in each room. Entry to the museum is €3.

Open July 4, 10-12.00 and 14-18.00

Guidellou, Saint-Cadou, Sizun, Finistère

Owners: Jackie and Bryan Carrick

Jackie and Bryan Carrick’s garden was a cow field in 2012 but is now a mature garden with masses of variety and plenty of interest.

It is on a north facing slope, located in the Monts d’Arrée hills and is divided into three areas, with newly planted trees, shrubs and flower beds in the main garden. There is also a potager and fruit trees area and a bonsai display garden, which is always very popular.

This year they are developing a woodland garden, using the woods behind them to create an area for shade-loving plants. They are keen to share their gardening experiences with visitors and this year think keen fellow gardeners will be interested to see a new mulch from the Royal Horticultural Society they have had shipped over from the UK. They hope it will cut down weeding, last in the garden for two years, and not attract slugs.

Open July 28 and 29, 14-18.00

Also open in July

Cousteilles Hautes, Montcléra, Lot

Owners: Carmel MacIntyre, Peter Beglan

This hilltop garden has been carefully landscaped to create a sweeping foreground to the spectacular views. It is only seven years old but is already well established. Grasses and dry planting surround the pool and pond; there is a circular rose garden and a long herbaceous border, fading from hot colours to pastels. This means there is plenty of colour in July with salvias, helenium and canna.

Open July 7 and 8, 11-18.00