Portrait of Garden Designer Rik Hiergens, Belgium
Zeveren is a quiet district of the Belgian town of Deinze, to the south of Ghent. Garden designer Rik Hiergens lives here in an old house next to the school. It used to be home to the sisters of the order who founded the school. The house has been refurbished with great sensitivity and respect and provided with tall windows that give the impression of drawing the long garden behind it indoors. Terca pavers dominate the exterior, continue here and there in the entrance area to the house and illustrate Rik Hiergens’ fascination with the fusion of indoor and outdoor spaces.
A hobby that grew out of control
Says Rik Hiergens, “I remember being fascinated by gardens from a very young age. The beautiful gardens I saw on my way to school etched themselves on my memory. They unleashed a sense of peace and wonderment within me. The reason for this sense of wonderment has preoccupied me ever since and driven me to search for answers.”
Rik Hierens used to be a teacher and everything to do with gardens remained just a hobby for him for many years. When he gave up his little apartment in Ghent and moved to Zeveren, the garden around his new home was completely neglected. Having acquired an indepth knowledge of plants over the years, he decided to redesign it himself.
The new garden soon turned out to be a hit: friends and family members who came to visit were impressed and asked Rik Hiergens to do their gardens as well. In addition, he completed a course in garden design so that he could learn all the practical and technical aspects of the profession. His former hobby became a sideline, and when he isn’t standing in front of a class, Rik Hiergens can often be found at his drawing table or with his feet in the garden soil.
An artificial intervention with a natural outcome
“The design and layout of a garden could be seen as an artificial and disruptive intervention in nature. However, the result must always be focused on restoring the links with surrounding nature as quickly as possible and strengthening that link even further.” With this in mind, Rik Hiergens sets about working mainly on small and awkward plots of land. In doing so, he gets the maximum out of the available area, its orientation and surroundings.
Order and structure are important to him. He likes to supplement strict lines and volumes with slightly looser planting, for which he prefers to use local plant species. The final outcome is a garden that lives in step with the seasons and also retains its exciting structure during the winter months. Rik Hiergens looks on in awe at the grand masters of the genre, such as Jacques Wirtz and the Dutch garden designer, Dick Beijer.
His own garden as a display window
Rik Hiergens has clearly expressed all his principles in his own garden: he has created structure and multiple layers with imposing box tree balls and square-cut yew; box and yew hedges as well as double rows of hornbeam can also be found, as can various species of acorn and a few old apple trees. A view of the surrounding landscape has been retained under a canopy of linden leaves, while the far end of the garden flows smoothly into the green countryside beyond.
The long garden features a gentle right-hand bend in the middle, but the illusion of rectilinearity is restored by long footpaths and a few shady terraces laid to pavers. The garden contains enough formal elements to create a link with the somewhat stately style of the house, while occasional looser elements play on the rural character of the municipality of Zeveren. From the office, where classical music plays continuously in the background, customers have an enchanting glimpse of the garden, with its rising lines of yew hedges. These provide a strongly spatial feel and invite visitors to explore the rest of the garden.
A perfect combination of bricks and pavers
To connect the garden to the house, Rik Hiergens searched for a paving material that would compliment the 100 year-old brick walls. Thanks to the pavers he selected from Terca, he was able to let the rear façade flow seamlessly into the garden. He decided to use a small and dark variant: the Terca ‘Oud Volendam’, with a size of 200 x 50 x 88 millimetres. Like the façade bricks, the pavers were also laid in the running bond.
Rik Hiergens also makes frequent use of pavers in his other projects. The small and practical paver formats offer ideal paving solutions for garden paths and cosy terraces. Pavers are also good for use in gardens with differences in height as well as for creating steps and boundaries. They are particularly versatile, full of character and yet “light” in form and appearance. Rik loves a natural appearance and materials that are durable and simple, but which age gracefully and well. He also likes to combine different materials with each other – such as wood and pavers, but only as long as this produces a calming and natural effect.
The net result is that it seems as if the pavers have always been part of the old house. The sisters of the former school community would surely have nodded approvingly at this respectful treatment of their former home and the garden.
- Garden architect:
- Rik Hiergens, Zeveren (Deinze, B), www.tuin-ontwerp.eu
- Rik Hiergens, Zeveren (Deinze, B)
- Laid area:
- 90 m²
- Available formats:
- WF (200 x 50 x 88 mm) & DF (200 x 67 x 88 mm)
- Pavers used:
- Terca Oud Hollands-Oud Volendam, format WF;