Tom de Witte

To gaze on beauty

Gardens Illustrated
To gaze on beauty

It is this view that brought me here:' says Yolande Skura as we look out from the terrace of her garden towards deep valleys and rolling hills. "This is one of the last wild, authentic parts of paradise left in Europe:' she says. We are in the Pare National de Quercy in the Lot region of France, in the tiny farmstead of Mas del Lum where Yolande, after 42 years of city life as a dassical music producer, has come to make a home and a garden, and to gare on beauty.

When she bought the property, seven years ago, she was not a gardener so needed to learn quickly. Some of her favourite gardens to look at were those of Piet Oudolf and through him she got in contact with the Dutch garden designer Tom de Witte. He had worked with Oudolf for 20 years and describes him as bis mentor.

"He designed the garden five years ago and Tom returns every year [he is based in the Netherlands] to tweak:' says Yolande. "I was very naive, and didn't realise that caring for a garden you don't just need a strong pair of arms, but 20 strong pairs of arms. "At first, lots of plants didn't reappear in the spring, not because they had died but because when I weeded I wasn't sure which were the weeds and which were the plants:' Yolande learned quickly and the garden is now immaculately maintained for both her enjoyment and that of the bed-and-breakfast guests, who stay in the beautifully renovated buildings that make up the property.

Tom hase created a garden that sits comfortably in the surrounding landscape. On his first visits to the site, Tom walked around the fields and woodlands of the surrounding area to observe the types of plants growing there and to get a sense of the spirit of the place. "If you want a garden that looks natura!, studying the plants that grow in the area will inspire you about what type of plants to use," he says. A broad terrace in front of the house contains a pastel-coloured rectangular bed planted with a carpet of calming Kalimeris incisa

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