Jardin Plume: the new way with grass
Jardin Plume, the garden of Patrick and Sylvie Quibel, has the garden world buzzing. The Quibels are passionate nursery people who, 15 years ago, carved this garden out of an old apple orchard in the windswept lowlands of Normandy, about two hours north of Paris. Their vision was to create a garden that would showcase the wonderful, light-catching effects of ornamental grasses. The result is a painterly, romantic treasure of a garden.
Our group of Ross Garden Tours travellers had the place to ourselves, and Patrick and Sylvie as our guides, one Sunday afternoon in September. Sandra Ross led the tour and fell in love with the garden. Here are a few of her shots and her thoughts about a garden you’re bound to hear a lot more about.
“Jardin Plume is a garden for all seasons and for all senses. I would love to visit every week, just to watch the evolution from the first glimmers of growth in early spring, to the wonderful explosion of texture that we experienced in late summer. You can see it here, in the the ‘American Squares’ garden. A square reflective pool in the centre of the garden is surrounded by four squares of grasses which are mown down once a year in winter. The charm of the garden lies in its simplicity, with the remnant apple trees lending a sense of maturity and fruitfulness. It’s a classic layout, but given a contemporary update.
A picturesque cart barn (don’t you wish you had one!) is the focal point of the Feather Garden, where tall feathery grasses (the tall sandy-coloured one is Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’) fill a wild space, structured by a tightly clipped box hedge that swells and peaks like a set of waves. It’s dynamic and utterly modern.
Here’s another look at that fabulous wave hedge. As summer finishes the seed heads ripen on the grasses and the stems dry off and turn gold. They rustle in the slightest breeze and catch the light in a romantic ‘impressionist’ way that makes you want to rush for the paintbrush.
The timber-edged pool is set in the Miscanthus Cloister, a garden that is part-labyrinth and part-cloister. The miscanthus provides shelter and a sense of privacy, and there’s a wonderful sensuality to the softness of those grassy tassels. At the end of winter they are all cut down to the ground to allow the next season’s growth to flourish.
Jardin Plume is one of the best, most imaginative gardens I have ever seen; it really captured my heart. I could have stayed forever – and I wasn’t the only one. Here’s one of our gang, loving the sense of immersion in a garden of grasses and perennials grown head-high.
My only concern? Will this creativity be loved to death, and like the white garden at Sissinghurst, become a garden cliche? What do you think?
Jardin Plume is part of the itinerary for our Flower Carpet tour next August, which starts in Brussels to see the incredible Flower Carpets created in the Grand Place, then continues to Bruges, Arnheim, Amsterdam and Paris. Keep on eye here on the blog, or on the website, for details of the tour.
Photos: Sandra Ross