Monday 12 September 2011

Prieuré d'Orsan

Some sort of vine neatly corralled near the entrance.
The Prieuré Notre Dame d'Orsan was founded in the early 12th century in the old province of Berry (today département 36 Indre) a couple of hours to the east of us. The buildings still exist, and have recently been restored by architect Patrice Taravella and stage set designer Sonia Lesot. In the 15 years since purchasing the priory, together with their head gardener Gilles Guillot, they have created a remarkable green cloister garden which coccoons the main dwelling and sits within the larger confines of the priory outbuildings on a 2 ha (5 acre) site.

The beautiful sandstone buildings as seen from the road.
The gardens are intended to give the visitor a strong sense of spiritualism and meditative calm, without being a slavish historical copy of a medieval garden. The paths are mostly grass and the tall hornbeam hedges enclose a medicinal herb garden, orchards, an olive grove and vegetables.

Very tall hornbeam hedge, creating the modern cloister.
Its most striking features are the chestnut stakes used to train fruit trees or create seats and raised beds. They are woven or used as supports in geometric patterns, directing the eye upwards, diagonally or in curves with trained or clipped plants, arbours, arches, fences and screens.

The hedge is allowed to have a rare Dr Seuss moment.
The main building is now run as hotel. You can come and stay just to enjoy the peaceful surroundings, or you can take a gardening or cooking workshop. There is a bookshop, restaurant and exhibition centre.



melinda said...

love it.......what is the closest town of any size?

Susan said...

Melinda: Chateauroux or Bourges. I warn you though - it is one of the most uptight gardens I have ever seen! We are glad we went, but we can't unequivocally say we like it.

Carolyn said...

You have saved us a trip. It's a shame, because the garden looks so great on the website but Susan, I trust your judgment.

Since we saw the garden at Apremont sur Allier, I have not been tempted by lesser gardens.

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