My name is Dominique, I’m 77 years old, and my passion for gardening began when my husband and I moved to our house in the Nevers region of France, in 1976.
The garden is divided into four different sections and altogether we have around 4,000m2 of land. I’m very happy with the landscaping, but it’s not so big that we can’t look after it.
Over the years, I’ve planted lots of flowering bushes, such as ceanothus, forsythia, abelia, elaeagnus (silverberry), tinus, and Mexican oranges for their scent – they always smell so good. I like to have a mix of bright green and yellow green, artemisia absinthium, with forsythia and philadelphus (mock-orange).
I love to sit and look over my gardens. It’s my great pleasure after a day’s work to be able to stop and take in the view. At sunset, it’s wonderful.
“If glyphosate were banned, I would be in deep trouble. Given my personal circumstances, I don’t know what I’d do if I had to give up weedkiller.”
Dominique, Nevers, France
Reinventing the garden
It wasn’t always like this. When we first moved here, there was only the first garden; it was a mere 300m2 and covered in gravel. I thought it looked grim; a large wall overshadowed everything, with a big ditch in the middle to drain rainwater.
There were just two splendid lime trees, but the rest was all very bleak with a lot of concrete. Bit by bit, I acquired more gardens and got rid of the wall that made me feel like I was in a prison.
The first stage was to replace the gravel with a lawn. We had to keep it that way until we could afford the second garden. Then I lowered the wall, to install a small, English-style gate.
We then set about doing up the second garden, which at the time was more or less being used as a dumping ground by the townspeople. Gradually, we have turned that courtyard and garden into green spaces.
We waited until we could afford the third garden, which came with a huge building that we now use as a garage. We also added a small gate, steps and a bridge.
In the end, we aggregated the four gardens together. As we get older, our next plan is to maintain them in a good shape while simplifying the work. So, we’ll have more flowering plants and shrubs that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Maintaining the gardens
We have tried to landscape the whole garden with more flowering bushes because the maintenance is a lot of work and it is easier with shrubs. I was spending so much time in the garden that I couldn’t enjoy the house or spend time with my friends.
I have also made the garden less labour intensive, as I had a bad fall recently, resulting in a hip replacement. It was such a shock because it was so unexpected. After the operation, I had to rethink how I tend my garden, because I’m not allowed to do some movements. I can’t cross my legs for instance and, rather than being on all fours, I need to stand up or sit when the shrubs are lower.
I must also choose my plants carefully. For example, I’m not going to plant annual flowers, which I loved doing to brighten the garden. I know I need to adapt. I think I’ll be able to look after my shrubs, and I will also have to find a more efficient way of fighting weeds.
I need weedkiller
To keep the garden and beds spick and span, I need weedkiller. If glyphosate were banned, I would be in deep trouble. Given my personal circumstances, I don’t know what I’d do if I had to give up weedkiller.
Despite the troubles with my hip, I’m still able to enjoy the garden. I like the spot near the sitting room, in the shade in the summer, where I can see my four gardens in perspective – that’s really nice. At the back, the big trees shelter us from the rest of the world.