Friday, 22 September
Mid-August, I got a shocking email. It was from Orange, our telecommunications provider. They are (slowly) installing fibre optic access in our area and needed details on our living arrangements. The message included a satellite photo that must have been taken last summer:
Was it really that bad, our (non-) garden, or was it just the aerial perspective?
The ground had been turned, but the delayed arrival of stones for the outside terraces made it too late to plant, and it wasn't until last September that the tiny new residents were installed in their new home.
During winter they settled in demurely. Come spring they nudged up and out, but it took our rainy summer for the plants to really feel their legs. The garden grew and grew.
We witnessed not just the growth spurt but also the importance of soil quality. Note in the above photo how the patches closer to the house are lusher. That's because the plants were laid in the really good soil from our organic farmers, while the those top right must make do with a bit of good earth and lots of Perche clay.
The photo from Orange reminded me how last summer I avoided looking out the window, tried to keep my eyes averted when I went outside. Now I can’t get enough of the views, from my window or close-up...
...at the front...
...at the back...
...or at the side...
From whatever angle, the garden now improves your mood; the beauty and balance fill you with peace and calm, soothes the eye and the soul. Put another way: its feng shui has come along in leaps and bounds - and certainly much more smoothly than it did in the house - thanks to our garden expert Claire and her team.
Along with all the new planting, we have not lost focus on the past and Deux Champs' long history, even in the garden.
During the renovation of the house, a lot of old stones were pulled out when we broke through walls to insert new windows and doors. Claire had two ideas for their redeployment. The first was to build low walls (like the one she's standing on in the above photo) around the terraces.
The other was to take a selection of the more notable stones and create a path leading from the parking area towards the house. Dipping into her seemingly bottomless well of connections, she had just the person to do it.
Armand, after a career in Paris haute couture, moved to the Perche with his husband Thierry and retrained as a mason, thus transferring his artistic skills from cloth to stone. For two weeks in August, he pieced the path together...
Even David, who tends to feng-shui denial, had to admit that our Perche version of the yellow brick road is an important addition to the growing harmony at Deux Champs.
There's more to do (like planting along the right side of the path), but what a difference a year can make.