‘Tourbillon’, Verteuil sur Charente


This client has a large garden near to the centre of Verteuil sur Charente, home to one of the prettiest Châteaux in the department.

As is typical of gardens in this area, the garden had plenty of trees and shrubs providing winter structure and flower. However, the client desired more variety and dynamism throughout the whole year. Scent was highly significant to the client. Having been put together piecemeal and without an overriding plan, the client observed that her garden appeared to be lacking a singular vision that held the garden together.

The garden was heavily overlooked by neighbours. The client detests straight lines, and a significant part of the garden had previously been planted in this way. A more natural layout and form to the planting was requested.


The garden lacked a sense of destination, was in some ways lacking a sense of purpose as a result, and was difficult for the eye to ‘read’. Trees had been planted seemingly at random and without any real sense of their eventual size and density. The garden has a spectular view of the Château, which would be lost entirely as the existing trees matured.

The garden was given a form to reflect the client’s artistic tastes and the Charente river that passes through the centre of the village. This would give a dynamic serpentine form to the garden and give a clear sense of journey. Several seating points were proposed to allow the garden to be enjoyed at different times of the day and that would offer different perspectives of it, in particular taking advantage of the view of the Château as well as the low afternoon light that would backlight the proposed meadow.

There were too many different species of tree and shrub utilised in the garden, which led to the garden lacking a clear identity and relationship to its owner. The tree and shrub planting was to be simplified to embrace the Oak and Hornbeam species already in the garden and reduce the ‘scattergun’ effect seemingly apparent. Some trees and shrubs were to be moved to retain or screen certain views, others removed altogether to clear views, or make way for Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’ that would offer a stronger form to contrast against the naturalistic borders and meadow. Hornbeam, which had formerly been part of a formalised mixed species hedge would be repurposed into topiary used about the garden in a shape resembling the Château towers.

An itinerary of the garden demonstrated quite graphically just how the garden was heavily weighted towards winter and early spring scent and structure. The vast majority of planting proposed therefore comprised of a mix of herbaceous perennials and grasses, some of which were to be repeated in the meadow areas using their ‘native’ cousins and less showy cultivars.

This is an ongoing development project being shared through my Instagram account.