Le Jardin Plume, Normandy


Orchard P1050528The Jardin Plume is beautiful private garden near Rouen created by owners Patrick et Sylvie Quibel.   Their design borrows many formal elements from traditional French gardens but these have been used in a very contemporary way.   There are formal allées, reflective pools and parterres, all designed in a modern style.  This formality is offset with exuberant and romantic plantings of wild flowers, grasses and perennials.

The Quibel’s open their garden and small nursery to the public on summer afternoons and are very hands on and happy to answer questions.  We arrived at Le Jardin Plume after a morning of heavy rain in June.  The skies were still grey but the low light level brought out the lush greens of the Normandy countryside.

Orchard P1050587A flowering meadow and orchard forms the main axis of the garden, running from the house to the boundary, where a simple wire fence allows it to melt into the surrounding farmland.  Rectilinear paths mown into the meadow are superposed onto a formal grid of fruit trees.

Orchard P1050574The meadow gradually becomes wilder with more native plants including grasses, buttercups and dock towards the far boundary.

Orchard P1050582Nearer the house camassias, geraniums, persicaria, gladioli and aquilegias enrich the native mix.

Plume P1050586

A playfully pruned hedge separates the meadow from the smaller “Jardin Plume” (Feather Garden) which gives its name to the whole garden.

Plume P1050507

The curves of the timber in the beautifully restored barns are mirrored in the organic forms of the hedge and the rounded back of the bench.


Plume P1050512In the first week of June, the Jardin Plume was full of thalictrum, Sanguisorba menziesii, aquilegias and the fresh growth of grasses and later perennials.

Plume P1050592A spire of thalictrum and a spike of hedge.

Plume IMG_5458A feathery thalictrum flower.

Plume P1050511The large barn has a beautiful open sided section with a sheltered seating area and an impressive log wall.

Plume IMG_5541A detail from the large barn showing the local materials of brick, timber and knapped flint.

Spring P1050513The entrance to the Jardin de Printemps (Spring Garden) is flanked by a clipped box hedge contrasting with the billowing forms of starry white and pink hardy geraniums and astrantias.  A short flight of steps is made from old worn cobblestones.

Spring IMG_5465The visitor is enticed forward along the path by metal arches which have been left untreated allowing them to obtain this lovely rusty patina which harmonises so well with the warm brick of the barns.

Spring P1050598A formal grid of clipped box balls set off the enthusiastic spring growth of the flowers.

Spring P1050514The frothy white flowers of Astrantia ‘White Star’ and Geranium asphodeloides (white and pink cultivars)

Spring P1050599Looking back towards the barn, taller architectural plants rise above the starry geraniums including Stipa gigantia, euphorbias, Helleborus foetidus and other hellebore species.

Spring P1050518Looking back into the Spring garden through an arch in the hornbeam hedge.

Hot P1050517The Jardin d’Été (Summer garden) is inspired by classical French parterres with clipped box hedges containing flowers in hot colours.  The box hedges are left open on one side allowing light to reach the plants and for ground cover plants such as nasturtiums to flow out over the paths.

Hot P1050525The Summer garden had not yet reached its peak but already aquilegias, poppies, geums and hemerocallis were flowering amongst the fresh growth of later flowering perennials.

Hot IMG_5454


HOT P1050526This frilly red poppy might be Papaver orientale ‘Turkenlouis’.

Hot P1050584One of the most striking elements in the garden is the square reflective pond in front of the house, a device used by André Le Notre at Versailles and Vaux le Vicomte.  Inserted into the grid of the meadow and orchard and aligned with the house and parterre, the rectilinear shape set into the lawn and left unplanted makes it totally modern yet rooted in the past.

Well P1050544On the other side of the Summer Garden, Le Jardin d’Automne (Autumn garden) was full of colour and texture despite it being too early in the year to see this garden of tall grasses and perennials at its best.  The hedge clipped into waves creates a strong graphic backdrop.

Well P1050546An elegant combination of purple-leaved Cimicifuga ‘Brunette’ and Nectaroscordum siculum.

Well P1050548Other plants in this garden include miscanthus, japanese anemones, aqueligias and Papaver orientale  ‘Patty’s Plum’.

Orchard P1050530Two companionable Adirondack chairs sit under a walnut tree looking out over the orchard and meadow.

PotagerP1050531Le Jardin de Fleurs (The Flower Garden), enclosed by a simple fence of split chestnut, was once the potager but has been transformed into a garden of annual and perennial flowers.  Two clematis flank the entry, a white clematis montana and to the right a more unusual purple-leaved C. recta purpurea, a herbaceous non-climbing clematis.  Mr Quibel told me that he stakes it firmly to stop it flopping over.


Potager P1050535The flower garden was full of early summer flowers such as these beautiful dark purple aquilegias.  The flower pots on stakes may be earwig traps, or maybe to make the posts more visible, but they are a charming feature and a reminder of the former use of the garden as a potager.

Plume IMG_5448Nigella sativa

Potager P1050538 A sea of blue and purple flowers include iris, aquilegia, lupins, nigella, rosemary and in the foreground the pretty quaking grass, Briza maxima.


Potager IMG_5506The chestnut paling colonised by the twining stems of a climber.

Potager P1050561An old building wall, complete with window makes a lovely feature in the garden and is highlighted by the path and bench.

PotagerIMG_5501Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba’

PotagerP1050553The paths are made from traditional brick and beaten earth.

Potager P1050547Papaver orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’

Woodland P1050566An entrance to Le Sous-bois (Underwood) through an informal hawthorn hedge.

 Woodland P1050568

The Underwood garden is very informal with a really wild hidden-way feel.  The path runs between tall swathes of white rosebay willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium ‘Album’) which are shaded by Cornus mas and hazel trees (Corylus avellana).


Prairie P1050563Alongside the Underwood is the Miscanthus Cloister and pond which repeats the square reflective pond nearer the house.  Part cloister, part labyrinth, this space is intended for relaxation and reflection.  Later in the summer, the miscanthus at their full height of 1.5 to 2 metres create a more intimate space.


Prairie IMG_5559A simple split-chestnut paling divides the American Squares garden from the orchard and meadow.

Prairie P1050565To the right of the meadow, the squares of native wildflowers and grasses are mirrored in a garden of American prairie grasses.  In June we were able to admire the structure, but later in the year the flowers will make an impressive sight before turning shades of red in autumn.  The grasses include red-tinted Panicum virgatum ‘Squaw’, delicate Sporobolus heterolepsis and tall Andropogon gerardii.


Nursery P1050612Many of the plants grown by the Quibel’s in their garden are available for sale in the charming nursery, where the layout echos that of the adjacent meadow and orchard.

Nursery P1050520The barn is separated from the nursery beds by formal box hedges and a warm brick path.  Throughout the garden the Quibel’s have used beautiful wooden benches as focal points which encourage the visitor forward either to rest and contemplate, or to lead them to discover new parts of the garden.

Le Jardin Plume is one of my favourite French gardens as it is so beautifully designed at different levels.  The formal layout has a contemporary feel and this is contrasted with the exuberant planting.  The attention to detail is lovely especially the hard landscaping and the use of traditional materials which harmonise so well with the beautiful Norman barns.  I hope to go back to Jardin Plume in the late summer to see the American squares and Autumn garden at their peak.

Practical Information

Le Jardin Plume, 76116 Auzouville-sur-Ry, Tel: +33 (0)2 35 23 00 01.  contact@lejardinplume.com,   www.lejardinplume.com

The garden is open from April to October but not every day of the week and is closed at lunchtime.  For information on opening hours go to the jardin plume website.   The garden is 20km from Rouen and really in the middle of the countryside so better accessed by car.  There are very clear signposts from Auzouville-sur-Ry and around.  Entry in 2014 – 8,50€.

The garden also hosts two plant fairs a year, in June and September – check the website for details.

There are good toilets but no café.










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