This garden is the garden of my life

The gardens and the arboretum

It all begin in the Parc de Saint Cloud, at the foot of the Trocadero gardens near Paris. The park’s sinuous alleys, thickets, ornamental ponds and aviary were my playground during and after school.  The park was created for the “children of France” – nephew and niece of the King – during the reign of Louis XVIII and Charles X and holds a rich and diverse collection of botanical delights.

My weekends and holidays were spent between my parents’ in the rich hunting grounds, forests and lakes of Gâtinais and my grandmother’s house close to Carcassonne in the south; where I spent my summers in her flower garden and vegetable patch. The splendid shaded greenhouse and sunny terrace were memories of another life in Africa. There was also the bamboo garden, her memory of Asia, where she had lived for a time. Finally, my adolescence spent in the gardens of Surrey, Great Britain.

A small seigneurial Domain parcelled out following the French revolution. The house shares its history with a French village. On my arrival I was told the story the house.

This manor has been my home for 27 years.
A garden, for me, begins with its buildings and moves outward thoughtfully and with feelings. So, I started by working on the house.
Giving me time to observe the nature,
time to welcome my three children into the world,
time also to take inspiration from all that existed around my home and elsewhere.

I bought huge amounts of fruit-trees, English rose bushes and perennials, which I planted around the manor.

I visited emblematic sites in the region (Ainay-Le-Vieil, La Bussière). Pierre and Marie-France Joyaux’s Vegetal Structures impressed me so much that I invited them to be the first to contribute to Poulaines, with the creation of the rose garden, pathways and water courses.

Some of the older villagers brought us a 19th century monograph that allowed us, step by step, to replicate the small seigneurial domain shown on the most recent Terrier plan. The Joyauxs helped us to link architectural history and botanical history, which was very important to me.

My father was a property developer so as a child I visited building sites and met architects, inspiring me to gradually develop the garden in my own style.

I have followed courses in botany, gardening and garden history conscious of gaps in my knowledge.

I met Claudie and Gerard Adeline at a garden festival, one of many I have attended.  Their help means the garden stays resplendent all year round, the colours changing season to season: bark, flowers, foliage, fruit each more beautiful than the last. and their work brought the arboretum into being.

Then Christian Coureau came in to trim the ancient hedges, shaping the house’s historical markers into clouds. I had planted bamboo near the old farm buildings beside the river. Around them, Christian and I crafted a space inspired by my memories of my grandmother’s garden.

Valérie Esnault

Creation of the Arboretum

Interview with Claudie Adeline


We met Valerie in 2006 at an exhibition in Saint Jean de Beauregard and we hit it off immediately. She invited us to come and see her park. We started initially by bringing in rare plants to enrich the existing flora.

Then Valerie told us she had bought approximately 1 hectare of land at the foot of the park.
The idea came to us, after several visits to our nursery,  to use this space to create a arboretum.
We drew up a plans of shady lanes interspersed with islands awaking a visitor’s curiosity by allowing them discover a great diversity of lesser known plants.

Valerie delights in sharing this Arboretum; a botanical conservatory containing approximately 300 different species.

Valerie and head gardener Emilie unveiled extensive labelling of the arboretum for the 2019 season.

Calendar of blooms

Spring


Flowering of late Narcissus, Alliums, Eremurus, Lilies, Iris, peonies (shrub and herbaceous), rose bushes, perennials, Magnolias, Lilac (Syringa), Cornus, Florida and Kousa, Viburnum, Shadbush, Deutzia, Cladrastis, Davida, Michelia yunnanensis, Clematises, Chinese and Japanese Glycine.

All the small fruits.

Summer


The aromatic plants and herbs, mints, Hemerocallis (daylilies), Crocosmias, Lavender, Dahlias, Agapanthus, Potentillas, Salvia and other perennials, Liriodendron, Catalpa, Sophora Japonica, Styrax, Aesculus Parviflora, Abelia, Ceanothus, Clerodendron, Indigofera, Itea, Weigela, Hibiscus, Buddleias, Hydrangeas, Vitex.
Water lilies and Lotus.

Autumn


Colours of the foliage, Acer, Taxodium, Metasequoia, Quercus Palustris, Nyssa, Carrya, Gingko, Parrotia (ironwood), Stewartia, Euonymus…)
Sedums, heathers, asters, gramineous, rose bushes, repeat-flowerers, Elaeagnus, Osmanthus, Sasanqua Camellia.
Apples, pears, quinces, figs, blueberries, elderberries and more.

Winter


SUCCESSIVE BLOOMS the bulbs on the lawns, in the flowerbeds, at the foot of the fruit trees; hellebore, hamamelis (witch-hazel), Edgworthia, Camellia japonica, Sarcoccoca, Daphne, Lonicera fragantissima, Prunus.

THE BEAUTY OF BARK AND CATKIN in the winter sun: : Betula Jacquemontii, Nigra, Albosinensis, Acer Griseum, Liquidambar, Salix Matsudana, Coryllus and Salix.

CONIFERS:  Abies, Calocedrus, Cedrus deodora, Libani, Atlantica, Chamaecyparis, Cryptomeria, Cupressocyparis, Pinus Artistata et Parviflora, Sequoia, Tsuga.

A FEAST FOR THE EYES

The gardens in pictures


Click on the images to discover different parts of the Domain