Jardin de Lavande sampler: block four
Over the next few weeks I'll be introducing you to my new Jardin de Lavande blocks - prior to their release in July - and taking you on a leisurely virtual tour of France's most beautiful gardens.
vintage watering from Dreamy Whites; suitably dreamy photo by Maria Carr
This week we are heading south to visit a Provencal garden. Le Jardin de la Louve, created thirty years ago by textile designer Nicole de Vesian, is the tiniest garden we will visit at just 500 square metres spread over a steep hillside a few miles north of Aix-en-Provence.
In her last decade Nicole patiently sculpted this unpromising site into a work of art: hand-clipping every plant and sourcing vintage stone ornaments to enhance her creation, including a beautiful stone water trough. Photographs of the garden usually show it holding a vintage galvanised watering can.
But there are no hedges or parterres. All of the plants are clipped into soft pillows of foliage, gently framing the ravishing views across the valley. Nicole chose a palette of plants to cope with the dry soil, mainly evergreen, including cypress, box, rock roses, silverberry, rosemary, santolina, germander and, of course, lavender, which adds a haze of purple over its tightly clipped neighbours. The resulting garden is elegant, restrained and - although it borrows much from Japanese gardens - quintessentially French.
photo by Clive Nichols for Modern Design in Provence by Louisa Jones
I think we can all imagine whiling away a sunny afternoon sitting at that table with good friends. Next week we'll be travelling north to visit a Normandy garden where time has stood still and meeting the fourth of our Parterre blocks...