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In Bonnac-la-Côte, Francis tells us about travels and wonders in his Japanese garden

Every night I fall asleep with the gardens of Japan”, confesses Francis Léobon. Evenings but not only.

During the day, he spends a lot of time in his 5,000 m2 “walking” garden, as he calls it: a set of connected gardens. Moss garden, landscape garden, Zen garden, all are gathered at home in a single green space.

zen portrait

To the question, “what do you remember after twenty years of this passion? “, Francis answers” ​​more than twenty more years for the garden to be finished. I learned a lot of things from nature and I gained in serenity”. Faced with plants, Francis recalls the importance of the term humility with respect to plants. “You have to manage to be in harmony with nature, it’s not easy, but little by little, for 20 years, it’s been entering the spirit of Japanese gardens”.

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The country of the rising sun, paradoxically, he never set foot there. “We traveled a lot, because we worked at the SNCF and I was also part of the CSP spy team in the heyday of Michel Gomez”, relates the person concerned. “We went to spy on the teams they were going to meet next and that all over Europe. From then on, I no longer wanted to travel”. The encounter with these gardens took place through books. “The first book I bought was on the theme of bonsai at Fnac in Paris written by three Japanese. I continue to inform myself on the internet. On site, “I imagined the garden according to my space, I adapted to my land. We must always keep in mind to create perspectives, to highlight places.

In the early stages of a garden as it is, “we have to let it mature before doing anything, it makes us patient”, recommends the enthusiast. Namely, the spirit of this surrounding tranquility that Francis tries to convey to us. Little anecdote from the master of the place: Fukutsu (-en) is the name given to these spaces but also to the association managed by Francis and a friend… Be careful with the pronunciation, Fketseu because otherwise, Fukutsu accented with the limousine, does not does not mean the same thing, it means “a stomach ache”. Much less poetic.

Remembering the Japanese visitors, Francis does not hide his surprise, at noting their emotions in front of certain parts of the garden: in particular the tea pavilion, with the Tokonoma (a zone in its own right independent for the pleasure of the eyes inserted in a space of life).

Here and there

The Japanese soul sealed, Francis has succeeded in this crazy bet of mixing the Japanese spirit with the traditions of the natural heritage of the region. There are all the minerals of the vintage, these same stones coming from the creation of the road of Ambazac. The goal for him being to convey this atmosphere from elsewhere in a French garden.

Ultimately, according to Francis, when you enter a garden and you do not develop emotions “well too bad, it’s missed”. In some places in the garden, they say “here I feel good” it’s hard to explain but it means that I managed to get something across and those are the best compliments”. This private park is a participatory garden, all volunteers who want to come and spend some time in the garden while working, can come and recharge their batteries in this unique space.

Practice. The visits are already complete for this spring and for this fall. However, on June 3, 4 and 5, 2022, other gardens will open their doors for the Rendez-vous aux jardins. To find the tours for June 3, 4 and 5:

Open gardens

Fromental. A new garden is opening its doors in Fromental, a place called Le Grand Bagnol. It is organized in two parts around an old farmhouse. The upper, larger section is lined with hedges, which attract birds. The lower part mainly includes perennials, roses, clematis and shrubs, some rarer. Entrance 5 euros, free for children under 18. Profits are donated to associations for sick or disabled children. Open June 3, 4 and 5, afternoons. Details on

Limoges. Located on the banks of the Vienne and of Franco-Italian inspiration, the private garden of Poudrier (a place of the same name) extends over four hectares. The outdoor theater offers a beautiful view of the Vienne and the garden. In it, there are more than four hundred plants, different varieties of flowers and in particular a centuries-old plane tree. FREE ENTRANCE. Open to the public on Sunday afternoons.

Couzeix. On June 3, 4, 5 or by appointment, Raymond Mazerolas opens his bird garden (5 allée de Gorceix) to the public. A veritable “green lung” in the heart of Couzeix, it is an English-style garden, with pastel colors and ecological functioning, which respects the ecosystem and biodiversity. The birds make their nests in the bocage hedges or in the twenty nesting boxes made by the master of the place. An insect hotel lies among the plants. Over time, Raymond passed on his love for plants and the mulching technique to drastically reduce water consumption. Admission 4 euros, group rate (five people at least) 3 euros.

Eva Fleury


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