Herculean, Pharaonic and other Garden Superlatives

Articles

Tree ferns growing in the tropical greenhouse, Château du Champ de Bataille, Normandy, France.

Herculean, Pharaonic and other Garden Superlatives One of the Seven Wonders, for which the specific location has never been established, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have contained a large variety of trees, shrubs and vines planted in tiers on raised terraces in an extraordinary feat of engineering. While visiting the Remarkable Gardens (see other garden studies with this label) of the Château du Champ de Bataille, I drew a parallel with these mythical gardens, beginning with the symbolic notion that they are said to embody: The Seven Degrees of Creation from the Mineral, Vegetal, and Animal to Humanity, Conscience, Light and Spirit, in that order. Jacques Garcia, renowned decorator, acquired the château in 1992. Working with landscape architect Patrick Pottier, they carried out the herculean task of conceiving and planting more than 240 acres of formal gardens consisting of groves, French parterres, boxwood topiary, basins, terraces, steps and fountains complimented by temples, theaters and sculptures. Hidden at the end of the garden is the “pièce de résistance” (flourish); a genuine 18th century Indian palace, reconstructed stone by stone, complete with an artificial lake: the Palace of Dreams. From the Material to the Immaterial, visitors pass from the … Read More

A Garden Party at Brécy Castle

Articles, Events coverage

Garden Party during Patrimony Day 2018 to commemorate Barbara Wirth at Brécy Castle Gardens, Saint Gabriel Brécy, France.

A Garden Party at Brécy Castle Patrimony Day in France happens once a year and enables curious visitors to see and experience treasures of French patrimony that are not typically open to the public.  This year, I had the pleasure of experiencing several special places dressed for the occasion under beautiful blue sky of mid-September all in one weekend.  The first and foremost is Brécy Castle Gardens, which I had already photographed in 2012 with a large format film camera. This year, a private invitation was launched to commemorate the fifth year of the passing of Barbara Wirth.  Gardener extraordinaire, she and her husband Didier orchestrated the restoration of the gardens of Brécy from their purchase of the château in 1992. We learn, in reading the marvelous and freshly published Florilegium of Brécy Garden by Béatrice Saalburg and Catherine Watters, that the key to the elegance of this garden is a striking harmony of “just enough” in Barbara’s selection of plants.  To complement graphically dominant yew, hornbeam and boxwood topiary, of which an intricate parterre de broderie on the ground level sets the stage for the terraces, Barbara added a savvy selection of roses, clematis, hellebore, lily and iris.  She … Read More