my french country home magazine – orsan priory gardens

A bird's eye view of Orsan Priory Gardens © Franck Schmitt

The full version of this article originally appeared on page 36 of the May/June issue of the My French Country Home magazine. To subscribe and read the article, click HERE.

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In the heart of Berry, central France, Orsan Priory hides a one-of-a-kind vegetable garden where beauty meets practicality. Inspired by medieval monastic designs, the Orsan garden and potager is a unique and enchanting visit at any time of year.

 

Orsan Priory Garden © Franck Schmitt

 

A former monastery, Orsan Priory was established in 1107 by preacher Robert d’Arbrissel. However, the gardens themselves have a much more recent history.

Box hedges at Orsan Priory © Franck Schmitt

 

In 1991, architects Sonia Lesot and Patrice Taravella were in the mood for an ambitious renovation project and fell in love with the priory’s neglected but charming stone walls.

      

Box hedges around a fountain at Orsan Priory Gardens © Franck Schmitt

 

The garden is comprised of many small gardens, separated by hedge-lined paths, topiaries, sculpted trees, and walls. Patrice and Sonia’s first wish was to create a utilitarian space and also an area for calm reflexion.

 

Climbing roses at Orsan Priory Gardens © Franck Schmitt

 

In front of this, the Kitchen Garden also referred to as the potager aromatique, because of the herbs that line the 24-inch-deep raised beds. Sitting adjacent is the Medicinal Herb Garden: for centuries monks used to heal the sick with the beneficial properties of herbs. Over 50 different varieties are grown, no longer used medicinally but instead in tasty kitchen dishes!

A bird's eye view of Orsan Priory Gardens © Franck Schmitt

 

Orsan Priory gardens are truly spectacular, in achieving both supreme beauty and good food – the true definition of a potager.

 

 

To read the rest of this article you can buy a digital back copy here, and for more wonderful French gardens subscribe to the magazine here.  

Text by Alice White Walker – Photography by Franck Schmitt

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