‘This garden seems to deliver the following message: the destruction of nature is all around us, but let’s do something about that and create an ecological island! We want to only use local plants and let others share in our concept! Maybe the garden, through its symbolic and visionary character, will inspire the visitor to think about nature’s state… and act to save it.’ (Extract from Luxembourg’s Secret Gardens by Marianne Majerus and Françoise Maas, Editions Guy Binsfeld)
Our garden unfolds over an area of two hectares across the hilly uplands of the Ardennes. It started as a vegetable patch near the house, alongside pastures for sheep and horses. Gradually, following several inspiring garden visits in England, we started to plan various distinct kinds of gardens in a coherent project that started to take shape in 1998.
Close to the house, there are still several raised vegetable beds for daily supplies, alongside roses and various kinds of perennials. On the north side, a small area of natural, enchanted forest establishes the border between the garden and the neighbour’s pastures. Otherwise, tall hedges protect the vast premises from the sweeping winter winds that can graze the Ardennes uplands.
Shaded by trees, the main pond provides an occasional resting place for wild ducks and an insect hotel allows for a close observation of various bugs. While squirrels count among the regular inhabitants of the garden, other animals, for example badgers, like to visit and leave their tracks.
The ‘long walk’, which was newly planted in spring 2016, can be contemplated from a typical Sissinghurst bench. At the end of the ‘long walk’, the lawn stretches into a kind of headland, and the formal garden transitions into the surrounding landscape: fields and pastures, hilly ridges on the horizon, all below a clouded sky which is reflected in three rectangular water basins. Between the water basins are rectangular ‘pebble basins’, the grey of which is emphasised by a few scattered spherical box trees. The basins lie in a meadow of wild flowers, which remain until September. The sunken garden, which is surrounded by various kinds of grasses, provides an ideal resting place after a walk through the labyrinth.
‘The garden accommodates its visitors in a playfully bright but also serious way, educational and recreational at the same time, familiar and alienating all in one – all the while a place of constructive energy.’ (Françoise Maas)
Photos: Dan Schank / Francis Verquin