Country dreams

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Overview

Exotic plants, noble vineyards and mystic medieval castles – the second series of Country Dreams will yet again take you to a selection of the most beautiful and breath-taking garden settings in Europe.

Each episode features a different country and region including France’s volcanic Auvergne, the buzzing German capital Berlin as well as the enchanted Wallachia of Rumania.

Our charming and carefully chosen protagonists all have their own story to tell. By inviting you to their gardens and homes we let you catch a glimpse of their Country Dream.

Crammed with insider tips and general information on the area the series also presents some of the most charming, bizarre and ambitious gardeners. Whether they run a small organic herb garden in the Austrian Alps or an extensive noble vineyard in the Po valley, they all embody what a lot of us dream about today – the escape to the country, to an idyllic and tranquil life with its challenges and rewards.

Episode 1. Brittany, France

Turquoise water and far stretching, sandy beaches. Small islands with exotic plants and a mild climate allow the flowers to bloom earlier than elsewhere every year. This and more is what the most Western corner of France has to offer. An easy life which Annick Bertrand and Yves Gillen are not taking for granted – they have chosen to nurture their garden and simple caravan home in a swamp. As Yves has succeeded in making his swamp garden grow he has become a highly recognised horticulturalist in France and now lectures in Versailles. Laurence and Charles Blasco trod a similar path – from growing a few plants outside their launderette they now offer a nationwide flower service, giving tips to the locals and delivering to those in France who just need those spring flowers a little earlier than others can offer them.

Episode 2. Zealand, Denmark

The Island of Zealand, on the east of Denmark, is a perfect stage for a country dream with its rolling countryside. Jeanne and Anders Brüel are trying to reawaken a large Victorian garden – emulating the old in a new fashion. In the same vein of traditional revival the landscape architects Stig Lauritsen and Greg Kobett are breathing life into a historic greenhouse. For them it is a particular pleasure to put their theory into practice as they leave the office life behind a few months a year to get their hands dirty in the flowerbeds. And then there’s Connie and Paul Linnebjerg, already retired and dedicating their autumn years to perfecting their home and garden in the house and grounds of an old country school.

Episode 3. Puglia, Italy

Set in one of the most Southern parts of Italy, this episode features some of the most breathtaking colours and historic gardens that Italy’s ‘southern heel’ has to offer. Yvonne and Antonio’s country dream became a reality when they created a garden of the four elements which surrounds their 12th-century farm, and their very own fortress tower. Salvatore Cezzi, the banker turned gardener, has gone from the computer to the cacti and now boasts the biggest collection of succulent plants. He has opened his garden to the public, giving them a unique opportunity to see some of the lesser known plant species of this world.

Episode 4. Umbria, Italy

The D’Ostianis have created what must be one of the most romantic gardens in the world. An Italian Renaissance inspired vegetable garden is surrounded by a rose garden with over 140 different types. Not only have they raised them all by hand but they can even tell you every last name of the various species. The Lago di Trasimeno is one of the largest lakes in Italy and offers a wonderful view in the middle of the land-locked region of Umbria. Thomas and Martina Reinhardt, both landscape gardeners, have made their own green dreams come true in a 300 hectare garden overlooking the deep blue body of water. Monica and her husband took to the Umbrian hills to make their country dreams come true and have made a green space that is perfect for the watch the sun go down and sip the local red wine.

Episode 5. Angeln, Germany

Schleswig Holstein is one of the Northern parts of Germany and has the largest coastline out of all the German states, making for some beautiful aerial footage. In the garden we meet Andrea Gode, the sculptor artist who made her dream come true by creating her own open air gallery. Using only material she finds in the surrounding area we watch her at work and even learn how to make a beautiful garden fence or archway out of twigs and branches – D.I.Y. at its most aesthetic and artistic! Ursula and Wolfgang Heppelmann have let themselves be inspired by gardens from around the world to create the perfect atmosphere for their self renovated 18th century home – even the colour is created and mixed as it was 300 years ago.

Episode 6. Galicia, Spain

This autonomous, most Northern part of Spain is famous for endless meadows with grazing cattle and impressive rock formations jutting out of the blue Bay of Biscay. Due to its hot, yet also wet, climate it is known Galicia Verde – green Galicia, as the plant life blooms for the whole year. Our first horticultural host is Marquesa de Aronda and her handsome gardener who heads a team of five others to meet the demands of re-sculpting the extravagant garden. The Leiscalo family live off the land as much as possible. The seaweed they gather from the beach serves as the perfect fertilizer for their crops and garden. The brother and sister have learnt how to make the most out the surrounding environment from their parents, and are now passing it on to the next generation. We learn their best tricks and tips.

Episode 7. The Lake District, UK

Muncaster Castle has been in the Pennington Family for over 800 years, and is even home to local ghost ‘Tom the Fool’. The grounds are diverse, from a large rhododendron forest to a perfectly manicured lawn for the croquet club. Patrick, moving towards retirement, must now show his grandson the ropes – from tree trimming to Confucian wisdoms, there is something for everyone. Tricia and Robin, both keen gardeners, are adamant that locals materials must be used whenever possible and the garden should melt into the natural surroundings. They are currently building the garden path out of local slate which is also to serve as visual axis for the garden. At Levens Hall, Chris Crowder, a gardener featured on the BBC, crafts the hedges into oversized and surreal shapes.

Episode 8. Provence, France

The viewer pining for the quintessential scenes of story-book villages amid deep lavender fields and silver shimmering olive groves will not be disappointed. First off we meet Marie de Lalouzière and her husband who have created and nurtured an alchemist’s garden. The house formerly belonged to an alchemist and the local herbs and plant life could not be more suitable for the quirky horticulturists. Former businessman André de Villeneuve has a more traditional take on things and is nurturing one of the finest lavender gardens in the area. The deep scent of lavender fills the house and surrounding area, as the expert shares his honed skills in growing traditional plant and how it can be used around the house and home. Val Joanis is also inspired by the rural history of the area and has created her very own 18th-century garden. The popular wine produced by her vineyards allow her the time to cultivate her ‘kitchen garden’, complete with flowering courgettes.

Episode 9. Andalusia, Spain

The most southern area of Spain has a dramatic arid landscape of desert and canyons. Even the Hollywood greats such as Spielberg and Sir David Lean used the backdrop for their film sets. It is opportune for the eccentric and dedicated gardener, such as Tonni Brugger. He has been cultivated cacti and other local species for decades. Toni, after years of gardening for others, is now finally fulfilling his own country dream: a cacti ‘adventure garden’ which will present the different cacti in their different habitats from all over the world. Namibia and Mexico are already finished. For the more ambitious country dream we move to a national park, Sierra de Arancena y Picos de Aroche, on the side of Andalusia that borders Portugal. There, África de Mora Figueroa and her husband are fulfilling their aristocratic country dream – in a 19th-century estate with a garden of centennial trees stretching 700 hectares. Gardener William and plant-lover Robert settled here and were able to buy a beautiful house and spacious garden in the mountainous region of Alpujarra. Intricate watering systems, unpredictable weather and vegetable loving neighbours made their dream a little more difficult than expected…

Episode 10. Tuscany, Italy

Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Tuscany’s gardens were renowned as an example for man harnessing nature to serve a purpose. Benedetta is staying true to the Renaissance roots and is trying to create the landscaping of her estate so that the future generations can easily continue the traditions. Swimming against the traditional current, Antonio Perazzi is handing his cosmopolitan garden back to nature and grows as wild wherever he can. Andrea Mati is trying both, combining the traditional garden that holds back encroaching nature from its borders with very individual plant choices that have to be seen to be believed.

Episode 11. Styria, Austria

The Alpine scenes in the north and the soft undulating hills with forests and meadows in the South make Styria one of the most scenic spots in Europe. The ground is very fertile and has been used agriculturally for centuries. Now gardeners are coming on board too, as more and more people move here to turn their country dreams into reality. Making the most of the beautiful surroundings, the Sichart family have created a hanging garden of Babylon at 3,500 m with views of alpine valleys. With the privilege of owning one of the larger estates in Styria, Schloss Eybesfeld, the Conrad have lovingly revived their heritage and crafted a vast landscaped garden for the arts. Cornelia Moosbauer is limited to more realistic proportions and has turned her ‘the size of a dish cloth’ city garden into a surprisingly spacious horticultural escape from the hustle and bustle.

Episode 12. Tessin, Switzerland

Tessin is known as the sun bed of Switzerland, combining the best of the Alpine and Mediterranean. The sub tropical climate allows diverse species of plant to flourish and amongst the alpine historic villages. Magi Joss has created a country dream very particular to her imagination: a garden of rare herbs growing along a steep cliff. She is a specialist and also cultivates old plants and herbs that can be used medicinally, supplying local traders with the fruits of her labor and knowledge. Heinz Imhof has chosen a different tack – he has let his garden grown into a vast jungle – but there is method behind the madness as this allows rare breeds to flourish – such as a gigantic species of Lily. Peter and Betlo Bissegger have decided to add their touch to the conventional: they have revived and renovated an old mill, picturesquely located by a small stream in the stunning alpine landscape.

Episode 13. Madeira, Portugal

An island haven for plant lovers as tropical plants fare just as well as the more traditional European blooms on the island of cliffs, meadows and forests. Christina Blandy makes good use of the diversity the warm climate offers – she ensures her botanical garden offers a host of plant species, choosing rarities from every continent and making the spectacular sights available to the public. José Costa has made his horticultural home on the north coast inspired by the traditional calçadas madeirenses, outlining all paths and shapes in his garden with stones gathered from the rocky beaches. It is the forests of laurels that inspire Lino Freits as he coats his walls with the leaves and uses other inspiration for his garden from the island’s environment.

Episode 14. Cornwall, UK

The ramshackle feel of Enys garden gives it the quintessential edge of an English country garden: the crumbling old stone walls, the old wooden bench surrounded by the bluebell fields and the orchard threatening to overgrow. Danielle Dixon and Des Morris, the two gardeners for the estate do the best they can with limited charm as they attempt to revive the romantic garden back to its former glory. Sir Hugh Stucley finds himself bemused around 90 days of the year – the days when he guides tourists around his own home in the name of the national Trust. However, this is a necessity if the home is to be kept up and held in the family for the generations to come. The estate has very much moved into modern times and even hosted an Antiques Roadshow. Rob and Carol Moule have made their dream come tip in a garden on the very southern tip of England. But even so far south they have not had it easy as they have created every path, every fence and even the terrace themselves. We learn from the happy couple that retirement is not something to be taken lightly and that hard work always pays off in the end.

Episode 15. Mainau, Germany

The third largest lake in Europe, bordering three different countries is the heart and soul of Tessin. The sheer size of the lake means it has its own climate – perfectly suited to wine cultivation. It is in the garden of nobel prize winner Hermann Hesse, the writer and scientist that Eva Eberwein and her husband is realizing her country dreams. She has recreated the garden as it was cultivated under the great thinker who collected and rare plant species. Even now students continue the tradition by coming to the garden and gathering are seeds for further study. Marigret Brass-Kästl is living an idyllic country dream in a converted 16th-century schlössle – a little palace – on the edge of the lake looking directly on to the neighbouring alps. She didcated herself to the creating a garden as awe inspiring as her surroundings.

Episode 16. Småland, Sweden

The region of Sweden where the landscape really does mirror the typical image we all imagine – pine forests, vast lakescapes and red painted wooden houses. It is here that Belgians John Blontrock and Marc van Beek have chosen to build their own hotel and English garden. Much less refined, but no less beautiful is the forest garden of the artist Marianna Agetorp. Here, she and other artists get creative using nature as their muse. Technology is the inspiration of Lennart Svensson, as his garden and workshop are filled with 19th-century metal artifacts which he restores and puts to original uses in his garden.

Episode 17. Lüneberg Heath, Germany

The Lüneberg heath is one of the few placed in germnay where one can still see thatch roofs. Rolf Albers has been a professional thatcher for decades and we follow his unique daily work in the country side. Dirck Mertens also cares about keeping the heath as it is – his job is to protect the landscape whilst his wife shapes it as a landscape gardener. At one of the six monasteries in the area Margit Halle ensures that things are in order and tends to the grounds and rose garden in the courtyard. Andrea von Bushe is also dedicated to upholding the heaths traditions as she keeps small grey Moorland sheep in her garden. The animals with their characteristic horns are an emblematic animal of the beautiful heath landscape.

Episode 18. Normandy

Michael Hewitt’s garden is a nature park in the south of Normandy. Its special touch is that most if his plants are edible and his leaves and blossoms are enjoyed in the areas high class restaurants. Sylvia and Patrick Quibel on the other hand focus more on the visual than tasty quality of their garden as they have created a space that combines horticultural tradition with cutting edge gardening modernity. For Blandine Kirchner her garden is all about tranquillity and escape from the city. She has created a blooming oasis for her family and as the scent of rose petals wafts through the air.