September / septembre 2015
Visit to L’Hermitage and La Mouissone
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The visit to L’Hermitage, near Opio, was memorable. The owner showed us around his most beautiful garden. Spacious, serene and green. The house is late 18th century and was bought by the owner’s father in 1956 and turned into a Palladian villa. The garden stretches away from the house with a shaped pool in front of the house to give the garden perspective.
The terraces around the house have pots filled with hibiscus, clerodendron and tibuchina.
The rest of the garden is designed in a series of rooms each with its own different style. The breakfast area has a sequence of colourful flowers and berries, including Hedychium coronarium, the white ginger lily, Opulis brevipedunculata and Podranea ricasoliana.
Another ‘room’ is calm and green with statues and a third has an arbour covered with wisteria, Rosa banksiae and Rosa ‘La Follette’. There is a collection of sages and some unusual trees including a Hymenosporum, a native of Australia, which is clearly thriving and has scented blossom in the spring.
Steps lead down to the swimming pool and two charming pavilions.
These are covered with climbing plants including Jasminum azoricum, Mandevilla suaveolens, Bauhinia yunnanensis and Pandorea jasminoides.
There are twelve hectares of olive trees, 1200 trees of several different cultivars, some of them dating back to the 16th century, as well as many newly planted ones.
The owner loves trees and plants and is clearly very knowledgeable; he is actively involved in the work in the garden as he showed us by climbing nimbly into an olive tree and demonstrating how it should be pruned. The prunings are shredded then left around the base of the trees as a thick mulch.
A delightful visit and much enjoyed by everyone. To finish the day Maggie Lockett most generously served us a delicious lunch at her home, La Mouissone, near Grasse. Afterwards we were free to stroll around the three hectares of garden and olive trees, set on the hill slopes with wonderful views towards the sea.
Text: Angela Moray
Photographs: Angela Moray and Christine Daniels