Design features to steal from an anglophile garden

Hubert and Colette Sainte Beuve's garden may be in northern France but its roots are firmly planted in the great English tradition. Here are some design features to steal from this anglophile garden. 


Imagine discovering an unobtrusive restaurant tucked away down a winding, narrow lane in this intensely rural part of France, the Normandy bocage, then sitting down to a feast of epicurean heaven, an unabated succession of course after sublimely delicious course. Les Jardins de Castillon are the horticultural equivalent of this gastronomic delight. 

In the October issue, Gardens Illustrated visit the gardens. The inspiration behind this nursery and garden, which Hubert Sainte Beuve created with his wife Colette, was the couple's enduring love for that most English body of plants, the hardy perennial, and their countless visits to some of the great English gardens, including Sissinghurst, Hidcote, Great Dixter, Tintinhull. Here are some of the amazing design features of the garden that you can steal for yourselves. 


Design features to steal (See images below)

Diverse and interesting shapes, such as the sinuous box hedge that snakes through the arboretum (1) to the maze. Elsewhere in the garden, plants mirror topiary, hedges are cut away to mimic curves of trees dying back in winter and intriguing shapes are trimmed in September, always following the originals drawn by the engraver François Houtin.

Wherever you look, enticing views lead out of each of the terraces and garden rooms. Some are long, giving a clever sense of false perspective such as L’Allée des Fleurs (2); others tease – a tantalising half glimpse round a corner or through a frame in a hedge (3), always leading you on.

Changing the mood and style. Colette chose garden rooms to show her ever-expanding planting palette to maximum effect. Each is a small theatre with a different play and cast, from the simple arboretum (1 and 3) to the almost wanton jungle planting of the Water Garden to the quiet contemplation in the Sissinghurst-inspired medieval Aromatic Garden.

Symmetry with spontaneity. The strict geometric lines of yew, box and beech hedging with swathes of bold planting are punctuated and lifted by impressionist, sometimes fantastical, shapes, spheres and cones of topiary as below (4) where the Blue Garden and Ornamental Grasses meet.



Address Les Jardins de Castillon, Le Château,
14490 Castillon, France.
Tel +33 (0)2 31 92 56 03.
Open 1 May – 1 October, Tuesday-Saturday, 2-5pm (Sundays in June and July, 2.30-5pm), and by appointment. Admission €7.


Words Camilla Swift

Photography Sibylle Pietrek

This article was taken from a longer feature in the October issue of Gardens Illustrated (239)






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