Rachel has been involved in the designing, building and planting of numerous gardens in southern France, primarily in the Languedoc region around Carcassonne. Many have been from scratch and often in difficult sights, with rocky terrain, wind, fierce cold in winter and high temperatures in summer to contend with. But always without fail, set in beautiful landscapes, often with the backdrop of the snow-capped Pryenees, or in the rugged hills and valleys of the Corbieres region.
One such project was Le Sarrail, a hamlet of luxury guesthouses converted from old farm buildings. The protracted construction work had rendered the surrounding area into a compacted layer of mud and discarded building materials. Arriving on site in mid-April, the gardens had to be completed for the first rentals in July. The brief was to create private gardens for each house, with a large planted communal area with paths leading to the pool, grassed areas planted with fruit trees and a driveway lined with lavender and cypress trees. Polished concrete floors inside the houses were continued out onto the terraces, and large square stones unearthed from building rubble made into a seating area around an old olive tree. Metal edging was used to edge the paths and automatic irrigation system installed. Plants include large swathes of santolina, lavender, perovskia, euphorbias, rosemary and salvias and delicate grasses Stipa tenuissima and gigantea, punctuated with cypress and olives.
Other projects have included the extensive gardens around an old wine domaine with a tennis court garden, a courtyard garden near Uzes, and a formal rose garden and walled pool garden for a chateau. Also, the complete renovation of Rachel and David’s own house and garden, Domaine de Rey, from a ruin and overgrown field to a beautiful rental property set in a mediterranean garden with a salt water swimming pool. Here the planting palette of soft blues, greys, green and white aromatic plants such as cistus, rosemary, perovskia, box and lavender, blends the garden seamlessly into the surrounding landscape of cork oak forests and rolling hills of vineyards.
Current projects include the design and planting of a large garden at an organic olive farm in the foothills of the Pyrenees, with a potager, guesthouse gardens, pool terraces and an outdoor sleeping area amidst banks of planting. Also, the design and reshaping of the planting around a pool in Vence near Nice, and a design for a garden surrounding an old village house in the Tarn region.
On the gallery page are a snapshot of some completed gardens. More details of drawings, planting and construction, along with before and after photos available on request.