I remember the first time I saw 35, Grande Rue – long before it ever became Le Petit Cochon. It was everything a grand old French house should be – blue shutters at the windows, big high ceilings, a sweeping staircase – all wonderful. But it was the garden that won my heart… Our garden rests on the rampart walls of Valence sur Baïse with wide views towards Maignaut-Tauzia, Saint Puy and Condom. This agricultural vista is a great contrast to the detail and colour of the garden itself. Spring bulbs, Iris, Lavender, Peony and Roses all jostle for position alongside Olive, Honeysuckle, Bay and Salvias.

Now lets be clear, I am a reluctant gardener. My wife, Saskia, is full of ideas and confidence in looking after the plants; gosh, she even knows the latin names!

But this reluctant gardener needs to step up because in recent times, this beautiful garden has been a little neglected – some plants have outgrown their space or simply aged beyond their prime. It is a big job and it will certainly need two of us to restore its glory. It is already a garden for the senses with smells and sights to delight, but we also want to create some growing space for vegetables and herbs, as well as rejuvenate ageing specimen and start succession planting now so that when old plants die, new ones will be ready to fill the gaps.

And we want to create new areas where you can spend time with a good book, paintbrushes and paper, or just your thoughts.

Through the eyes of this ‘reluctant gardener’ we’ll keep you up to date with the changes in our garden and hopefully inspire you to come and visit to see it as it evolves through every season, at every time of the year.

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin