Interview with Odile Masquelier, creator of the Jardin de la Bonne Maison

Interview with Odile Masquelier, creator of the Jardin de la Bonne Maison

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The reputation of the Jardin de la Bonne Maison has gone far beyond our borders. Located on the hill of Ste Foy, with its breathtaking view of the city of Lyon, it attracts hundreds of lovers of flowers and particularly of old roses every year. Odile Masquelier, creator and owner of the premises, has acquired a wealth of botanical and gardening but also historical knowledge about them which has earned her international renown. She opened the doors of her enchanting world to us during an exciting interview.

Tell us the story of this garden…

The garden of the Good House originally belonged to my father, who acquired it during the war to make an orchard and a vegetable patch. So I have many childhood memories! Although they no longer live there, my parents kept the estate "just in case", and it was finally my husband who bought it in the 60s. When we moved there, everything had to be done again… My parents fortunately helped us a lot financially.

What were the different stages of its development?

Shortly after buying the estate, my mother asked me this simple question, which helped me get started in landscaping the garden: "What would you like"? My reflections led me to cut down several trees in order to highlight the great centenary cedar that I liked very much. But having no experience in the garden, I planted at random ... anything and no matter how! The trigger finally took place in Scotland, during a visit to an old rose garden. When I returned, I announced to my husband that I wanted to start from scratch for the layout of our exteriors ... and I embarked on a new adventure!

Is that when the bouquets of flowers got involved?

Absolutely ! Chance wanted me to take care of the floral decoration for a wedding, by creating bouquets with the flowers of my garden. The party caterer was won over by my work and that is how our collaboration which lasted 13 years started! You should know that professionals in the sector are not subject to VAT when the flowers come from a private garden ... So I devoted a whole part of the Jardin de la Bonne Maison to growing various flowers. I could thus offer bouquets very different from those usually found in florists: iris, oriental poppies, tulips ... I even supplied many antique dealers in the region with bouquets of dried hydrangea to decorate their shops!

… And old roses have appeared in the garden!

I visited many nurseries, especially that of Angers and Provins, specializing in roses ... and I had a real crush on the old varieties! The latter go particularly well with perennials, clematis and shrubs. So I continued to develop the garden by integrating it little by little and adding elements built to enhance it. You should know that the Good House stretches on a long slope, like a massive block of greenery. It was therefore necessary to "break" this configuration by creating low walls, corners dedicated to relaxation and several small gardens of different style. I was able to recover different materials over time, and I especially had the chance to meet an ironworker who created specially for the garden made-to-measure arches dedicated to climbing roses, as I imagined them.

What can we discover in your garden today?

There are many varieties of roses of course, but also a multitude of other plants including 260 varieties of climbers, 80 varieties of clematis, 60 varieties of narcissus as well as a collection of tree and herbaceous peonies, viburnums and hydrangeas. Bulbs (irises, peonies, tulips ...) are also very present throughout the garden: I take great pleasure in collecting them! Although the area is particularly attractive in the spring with its multiple blooms, it is nonetheless spectacular in the fall, because I have worked a lot on the colors of plants and especially trees with the integration of several maple trees.

Finally, what advice can you give to gardening enthusiasts?

In my opinion, the right questions should be asked. What are my water resources? How much time can I spend in the garden during the week? What type of soil is there in my house? It is useless to plant massively if one cannot take care of one's garden afterwards… Another essential point: favor the quality of the foliage because it is what lasts the longest. And do not hesitate to remove the plants that we do not like, or to redevelop a plot of garden. Finally, increase the number of visits to small plant fairs: they are often worth the detour!