Home Japanese values Raymond Blanc: “Prince Charles said to me: ‘You are right. Your garden is better than mine”

Raymond Blanc: “Prince Charles said to me: ‘You are right. Your garden is better than mine”

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Tell us more about landscaping…

There are 11 gardens, each with a different story to tell. The main garden surrounding the hotel is filled with a variety of herbaceous plants — many of which are fragrant — with whites, blues, and mauves, which enhance the calm atmosphere. There are 1.5 acres of hand-dug organic vegetable gardens growing 260 varieties of vegetables and an herb garden – inspired by my grandmother’s love for medicinal herbs – with 29 varieties, many of which have medicinal uses such as English mace, yarrow and viola and there is a heritage orchard with 800 apple, pear and ornamental trees.

The remaining 5.5 acres, including a peaceful wildflower garden designed by Chris Beardshaw, are ornamental gardens. I redesigned the 15th century water garden in 2011, including a 75 meter deep borehole, which irrigates the gardens. Aided by designer Robert Ketchell, we created the elegant Japanese tea garden, incorporating an existing large oak and sycamore tree and added a serene tea house pavilion. We also produce 38 varieties of Asian vegetables in the Asian garden, including lemongrass, achocha and yacon.

How many people created the garden and how was it when you arrived?

When we arrived there were only three of us and the very first gardener here was Papa, who came for three months to clean up the mess. It was time for revenge. I had never been afraid of a garden but the garden scared me. It was full of elderberries and rabbits everywhere. It was a jungle – a mess like you’ve never seen – but I loved the topography of the land and how contained it was, and I knew how much potential it had. I was only 35 and full of energy so I completely fell in love with it.

Do you have a favorite spot in the garden?

I love the Japanese garden. When I have too many things on my mind or feel overwhelmed, I enter the tea house. No one can see me and I find total tranquility. I also have a ritual where I take a little walk in the vegetable garden around 7:30. It’s a canvas for my gastronomy – I might pull a little on the vegetables as I walk around.