Our history - an adventureWhen I was little, I spent every year many weeks in France with my parents. The many French friends we had, were a strong influence on me. My mother often told me about them, about France…and V.G-Est. who was born in Koblenz in my grandmother’s house!
These connections made me always wanting to come to France.
In 1990, Lutz and I visited again the places my parents made me discover…we came through Thermes-Magnoac…and we spot an old farm: from the road, we could only distinguish a roof in the middle of a field.
Even though it was badly damaged by the years, we liked this Gascogny farmhouse from 1741 on a patch of land, lined with a few trees. Dear Juliette who was the owner quickly came to an agreement with her family in order to sell us the house.
The material clay -the earthenware, mother earth- accompanies Lutz and me as it did for the entire Humanity throughout life. It is our profession ( for 27 years and after a long apprenticeship ) to fashion this noble material. We have journeyed alongside it throughout our lives. To this day, it is a travel to the core of Art with its share of new challenges and countless discoveries.
Therefore, in 1991, we ceased our activity as potters in Flörsheim-Wicker and to set up here, at the house Terrade of Thermes-Magnoac with our children Christian, Sara and Cathérine-Caroline.
It is with our hands and the help of our children that we rebuild, little by little, the ruins of this edifice (starting with the roof) into a beautiful house.
Many were those who thought that we could not survive here over a year…
Others came to encourage us….and we reopened the pottery “La poterie Hillen”…in France!
The property comprises 5 hectares and a historical path leading from Thermes-Magnoac to Boulogne-sur-Gesse. Upon purchasing, it had six trees: 2 two-hundred-year-old oak trees, 1 two-hundred-year-old ash tree, one magnificent chestnut and one lime tree.
The idea of creating a garden came very soon.
The first year, it was in 1991, we tried to make vegetables grow in a soil that was as hard as stone. We had to enhance the soil and we lacked of trees to shade us. After years of farming, there were almost no hedges left along the ditches. We started to reforest with endemic trees and shrubs, our goal was to ensure biodiversity so that flora, fauna and men could coexist in perfect harmony. Giving back to the land its character and its original personality was close to our heart. Over the year, we welcomed small trees, perennial plants, flowers, vegetables and some savage flowers in our garden. Today, we have done over 12000 plantings.
Little by little, the garden became bigger. Visitors came to our garden and felt so well that we decided to open the garden to the public.
The garden is laid out on several levels and its theme changes with the season. We regularly integrate so-called « dynamic » objects into the garden to give it a new appearance. We combine immobile areas with "eye catchers" which thanks to their organic form integrate seamlessly and naturally. Therefore, it is for us an extension of our artistic creation and consistent with the life plan we have chosen. Everything has been financed by the creation of our ceramics, meaning no holidays for us (we have travelled a lot before).