Written by Alexis Goldberg,
7th December 2017

Here’s a poser for Gardeners’ Question Time, how can you nose around lots of private French gardens, large and small? Good news! Your gardening inspiration will bloom when you join the Jardins Ouverts (Open Garden) scheme.

Do you love beautiful gardens as much as the French? If so, you will love the Jardins Ouverts (Open Garden) scheme. It started in 2013 in the department of Creuse in the Limousin, when four gardeners decided to invite the public to view their gardens, a little like the National Garden Scheme in the UK. Over the last four years word has spread to many other departments and today 116 gardens are open for viewing, raising many thousands of euros for charity.

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The Open Gardens scheme invites people to register with them and open their gardens for public viewing

The Open Gardens scheme invites people to register with them and open their gardens for public viewing. You can join the scheme by purchasing annual membership, which costs just €10. You are then permitted to visit any of the registered gardens on the list. You can find out details of the individual open days on the Jardins Ouverts website. In addition to this you can buy an Anniversary Card, which includes entry to many outstanding gardens across the country.


Wander around fabulous French gardens for just €10 a year


There are some truly fabulous gardens on the list, belonging to a huge variety of properties, from small cottages to grand chateaux. If you have a garden you would like to show yourself it doesn’t matter how large or small it is, since the aim of the scheme is to showcase any beautiful exterior space to the public.

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Pottering around the garden – whether it is your own or someone else’s – is a great way to spend time over a weekend and can also be an excellent way to meet like-minded folk and stay healthy. France has such a huge range of regions with different climates, landscapes and types of properties, plus of course an enormous amount of space. This is something which everyone can enjoy; you don’t have to be the late great Percy Thrower to join the scheme. It is aimed at anyone who simply enjoys tying in a stray tendril, pruning the hedge and planting bulbs.

The French have great admiration for the classic “English country garden”, so your neighbours are likely to be interested in seeing just what your patch has to offer. Likewise, for British people it is fascinating to witness the difference in the French way of gardening and the products on offer here. We can all learn from one another, which will only benefit our flower beds, lawns and hanging baskets.

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