François Simonaire has been working as a gardener for more than 25 years, but it was just seven years ago that he turned his skills to his own plot where he wanted to create a portfolio for a budding design business, as well as a personal retreat filled with treasures from his travels. François lives in Evreux in Normandy, France, and does not assign any particular style to his garden, but it is a mix of things exotic; Asian, Indonesian and whatever pleases him.
Even though he has worked as an independent garden designer for the last four years, his approach to his own garden resembles nothing like that of an organized pro.
“I do not make any plans I plant according to my purchases of plants and my inspiration” says François. This is the garden of an ever-passionate plant lover who constantly needs just a little more space to fit in something new and interesting. The garden is about 600 square meters (approx. 6400 sq. ft.) and located within the city. It isn’t a small space, but to a plant collector trying to fit it all in, it can be a space challenge.
The house disappears among plants that have been collected from four continents and many more countries. François also has a green house on site where he sells rare plants and garden sculpture that he has imported.
The garden is an ecological haven (in English we would say “organic”) and he employs simple techniques such as encouraging birds for insect control. There are many nests in the garden and François boasts a large population of Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), which are fun to watch as they are quite colorful and famed for their skilled acrobatics when feeding.
“I do not make any plans I plant according to my purchases of plants and my inspiration”
One of Simon’s biggest challenges is the size. He wants it to feel bigger than it is and he used curving paths, obstructed views and hidden areas to create an illusion of something more sizable.
“My pond is one of my greatest successes.I wanted it very natural and well integrated into the garden with carp, koi, frogs and especially water lilies. When you are in the garden you are immediately removed from the city and all you can hear is the sound of water.”
François’s garden-making advice:
“Mix it up! Don’t be a slave to a style, personalize your garden to make yourself happy.”
The most notable plants in the garden:
- A Larix that has been pruned into a cloud shape.
- A Persimmon Tree (called a Kaki in french) with a superb trunk that sports orange fruits on bare stems in late autumn.
François regularly changes up the garden and some visitors come at least monthly as there is always something new to see. He has also used the garden as a gallery space, inviting artists to place their sculptures among the plants to create an even more magical and curious place.
More information see Passion-jardin.
Before + After: