finding my garden inspiration

by Sharon Santoni

I’m always looking for garden inspiration. Like most gardeners, I never sit back and say ‘This is finished’, the creation is the fun!

You may remember at the end of last year, I had the visit of garden designer Philippe Dubreuil.  I love his garden in the Perche, it is true garden inspiration for me. He came to lunch and kindly took a moment to wander around my garden, analyzing what we had going on, and giving me suggestions for improvement.

“You have to be more BOLD”, he said several times.  I nodded vaguely, trying to envisage how this would play out… When you already think you’re doing your maximum, it’s hard to see what needs to be done to be BOLD. But like a tiny seed dropped into a flower pot, his words germinated in my head, and when he generously sent me a plan for the garden design, I immediately started to put his ideas into action.

Jardins de Cadiot, Dordogne

Over the winter we planted a dozen trees, and have created a new topiary parterre that will soon be partly bricked. And there is more to come. And the great thing is that in the garden, I am not alone.

A very tangible effect of the recent pandemic was that my husband started to spend more time in our garden. To begin with, it was the kitchen garden, or potager that drew him in. The lure of growing our own food that spring and summer was irresistible and once he started he was hooked!

Jardins d’Erygnac, Dordogne

But since the pandemic, his interest has remained, and it’s fun to take decisions together on our plans for the garden. He is very good at creating spots for seating, that I don’t necessarily visualize. I’m better at deciding what to plant and where. We don’t always agree on design ideas but we talk it through. And this new common interest also means that visiting other gardens, and looking for garden inspiration is even more fun.

When I was in Dordogne on our Tour, I was lucky to visit most of the great gardens in that region. Each one is astoundingly beautiful, and each with its own distinct personality. Of course, I could never aspire to a garden that looks like Eyrignac, or Marqueyssac, which both require a big team of expert gardeners. But in every property there is always a detail, maybe small, that can be used here at home.

Jardins d’Erygnac

With some of those properties in mind, I have installed a couple of stone urns in one of my flower beds. For the moment they are on temporary brick pedestals, meaning that I can try out different positions in the garden until I’m happy they’re in the right place.

Gardening is a universal language, and it seems that gardeners around the world enjoy sharing. We love to learn from each other, we love to exchange cuttings and gift bunches of fresh blooms.

And I’d love to know how this works for you. Do you garden in your home? Where do you find your inspiration?


Clarice Queen May 31, 2023 - 12:03 am

I always thought Gardening was only for me — my garden. Then during Covid I would often hear compliments as my neighbors went by. So I planted more – for them. Then I participated in my city’s Garden Walk and more, neighbors and others, saw my back garden and I so wanted them to like it as much as I do. This year it’s all about the birds. I’ve made a couple water fountains for them and a few feeding areas as well as planting certain flowers that I plan to leave overwinter in my Michigan garden so the birds to have seed to eat.

Tara May 31, 2023 - 2:09 am

Sounds beautiful Clarice. I love my garden too! Your building the garden for passers-by and then for birds is inspiring.

Nancy Brantley May 31, 2023 - 2:38 am

I love a beautiful garden. A garden makes the home beautiful! My garden is mostly boxwoods but I have red roses, white azaleas and variegated hostas too.

SHARON SANTONI May 31, 2023 - 1:40 pm

I’m sure that gardeners are sharers Clarice :). Your water fountains for the birds sound like a great idea!

Martha Vera May 31, 2023 - 1:13 am

Your garden id breathtakingly stunning! I love spening time in my garden. Thank you for all the beauty!

SHARON SANTONI May 31, 2023 - 1:41 pm

Thank you Martha, my garden is my therapy! It is such a creative thing to do, and the results are shared with friends and family which I love 🙂

Deborah May 31, 2023 - 6:21 am

I’m in the southern hemisphere and the garden is currently bare in places. I’m inspired by your plans to wander out and make some decisions about what to plant in the next few weeks. I love my garden and spend a lot of time in it, even in winter.

SHARON SANTONI May 31, 2023 - 1:43 pm

Thank you Deborah. A garden is a special place, no matter how big or small 🙂

Judy Lambert May 31, 2023 - 6:54 am

Building my garden is my meditation – but also an opportunity to share what I am learning with my family. How I can grow this garden to help the environment and also create a beautiful inspirational space is so important for me to pass on. The garden is french inspired but also west coast as we live within view of the Pacific Ocean

SHARON SANTONI May 31, 2023 - 1:44 pm

Hi Judy, I agree, it is very meditative to work on and plan our gardens. How wonderful to see the ocean from your garden! 🙂

Celeste May 31, 2023 - 8:36 am

Just returned from Monet’s Garden in Giverny and noted so many wonderful ideas including white, pink, and lavender climbing roses and rose trees throughout his garden. We stayed at La reserve with hostess Valerie Jouyet recommended on Sharon Santoni’s site under visiting Giverny. If you have ever wanted to see Monet’s Garden, my husband and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND staying at La Reserve for 2-3 nights to fully experience the Giverny town and gain so many ideas for your gardens!

SHARON SANTONI May 31, 2023 - 1:42 pm

Hi Celeste, I’m so glad you enjoyed staying at La Reserve! Valerie and her husband are the perfect hosts!!

Gray May 31, 2023 - 12:23 pm

Sharon your garden is such inspiration for me. Much of what you grow, doesn’t do well here but I drink it up from your site! Good luck with your new project!

SHARON SANTONI May 31, 2023 - 1:43 pm

Thank you so much! At this time of year I walk around the garden before the day starts, and so enjoy checking in on the overnight changes 🙂

Rhonda Reeves May 31, 2023 - 3:01 pm

I am working on adding a rock garden to a corner of my yard-it is a constant work in progress and so satisfying.

Sandra May 31, 2023 - 6:00 pm

I love your style in your garden it’s lite and airy and free form the added urns give it a magical feel …. the structured gardens “bold” are very cold and not soft and inviting as yours is ….keep doing what you are doing … it’s lovely !!!!

Laurie June 2, 2023 - 10:41 pm

Hello Sharon. Please forgive me if this is the incorrect forum to ask. I am looking for a recommendation of a travel expert to hire —someone to help me plan our first trip to Provence next spring. Is that something you do?

SHARON SANTONI June 5, 2023 - 7:13 am

Hi Laurie

Thank you for your question, we’d be very happy to help you plan your trip. Can you please send us an email to, and we’ll be able to communicate directly.


Karen June 13, 2023 - 1:00 am

Sharon your garden is truly inspiring and has helped me in developing my own. In Alberta, Canada we have snow and extremely cold weather for many months of the year so I spend every minute that I can in my garden during the summer months. It’s my therapy! In addition to my vegetable garden, I plant flowers that attract bees and birds (including hummingbirds) and that too is lovely to enjoy. I agree that a garden is really never “done” but that, in a way, is the best part of it. Yours is so beautiful….thank you for continuing to share it with us!

Uribe August 24, 2023 - 9:31 pm

Tivimate Premium has transformed my downtime into inspiring garden moments. With its diverse channel options, I find myself immersed in stunning landscapes and innovative designs. It’s like cultivating creativity right from my screen to my garden.


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