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Posts Tagged ‘Jardin des Tuileries’

It may be the only time that historic garden conservation has been compared to a flaky French pastry. But use of the term mille-feuille was not the only unusual thing about the 1990 plans by Bernard Lassus for the Jardin des Tuileries, that magnificent processional space between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the middle of Paris.

Originally created as riverside pleasure grounds for a palace, the gardens have over their 450-year history been the playground for monarchs and emperors, the site of many important events in French history, and a reflection of changing fashions and trends in landscape design.

In the 1980s, with the implementation of French President Mitterrand’s grand projets, the gardens became part of an extended axis through the city. A controversial glass pyramid in the Louvre courtyard created a new focal point at their eastern edge; beyond the western edge, the axis that had continued up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe was extended to the vast new Arche de la Défense in the city’s business district. At this time, the French government decided to renew the gardens themselves, and invited nine firms to put forward proposals.

The competition

The shadow of Le Nôtre’s work in the Tuileries clearly loomed over the nine designers, and encouraged rather cautious, reverential proposals. Most of them aimed to conserve as much as possible of the existing gardens, and focused on preservation work such as repairing statues and restoring planting.

The proposal from Bernard Lassus stood out. An experimental artist and theorist, Lassus was known for his pioneering ideas on landscape design. He had already won two competitions to create public gardens that celebrated the history of their settings in novel ways and, in 1984, had proposed a remarkable—some said unbuildable—plan for a vertical garden at the new Parc de la Villette in Paris.

His proposal for the Jardin des Tuileries was thoughtful, subtle and utterly radical. With his fascination for spatial depth as a metaphor for the passing of time, Lassus was inspired by the way that the new Louvre pyramid had gone underground, slicing its way through the archaeology of the ancient site, to create a new, subterranean entrance to the museum. In doing so, it had revealed the densely packed history stored there. Lassus proposed the same approach for the gardens, cutting away the historic layers to create a mythic archaeology that exposed the main design periods for the Tuileries. Still rectilinear, the site would become deep, using its strata or layers to reveal and reinvent the garden’s history, maintaining and celebrating its many memories and associations.

Views of the Lassus plans for the Tuileries. From http://www.bernard-lassus.com

Views of the Lassus plans for the Tuileries. From http://www.bernard-lassus.com

Details of the Lassus plan

Five layers of the Lassus plan.

Five layers of the Lassus plan.

The proposal split the garden horizontally into areas and vertically into strata, representing the five main eras in the history of the gardens. The oldest, and lowest, layer would correspond to the walled garden created from the 1560s by Catherine de’ Medici, widow of Henry II, which was a place of variety and surprise. Designed in an Italian style, this garden had been divided into regular compartments, with parterres, a maze, groups of fruit trees, lawns and vineyards. This is shown as dark grey on the Lassus plan, and would be reconstructed and, where necessary, reinvented 80 centimetres below the current surface of the gardens.

One of the so-called Valois Tapestries, depicting a ball held by Catherine de' Medici at the Tuileries Palace, Paris, in 1573. Image from wikipedia.

The jardin des Tuileries in 1573, during a ball held by Catherine de’ Medici. From one of the so-called Valois Tapestries; image from wikipedia.

Visitors could then step up to the next layer (the dark red area on the plan). This would be a box parterre and large fountain, dating from around the turn of the seventeenth century, and said to be designed by Claude Mollet, gardener to Henry IV and one of a great dynasty of French gardeners.

Up another level, the middle stratum (lighter red) was to be the celebrated work of André Le Nôtre who, from 1664, redesigned the gardens in a monumental style. They contained the grand central axis for which the gardens are now perhaps best known, marked by fountains and large ponds at either end.

Les Jardins des Tuileries, as laid out by Le Nôtre c.1670, drawing by Israel Silvestre. Image from Gardens of Illusion by F. Hamilton Hazelhurst.

Les Jardins des Tuileries, as laid out by Le Nôtre, c.1670, drawing by Israel Silvestre. Image from Gardens of Illusion by F. Hamilton Hazelhurst.

The hexagonal pond and monumental curved walkways created by Le Nôtre at the western end of the gardens.

The hexagonal pond and monumental curved walkways created by Le Nôtre at the western end of the gardens.

The fourth layer in Lassus’ proposal (shown in yellow on the plan) consisted of the nineteenth-century additions to the gardens, including the twin pavilions at the western edge, and the jardin réservé (private garden), with its water features, flower beds and statues, created for the restored monarch Louis-Philippe, and subsequently enlarged and much enjoyed by Emperor Napoleon III.

The Orangerie, one of a pair of classically styled pavillions added to the gardens by Napoleon III in the mid- nineteenth century.

The Orangerie, one of a pair of classically styled pavilions added to the gardens by Napoleon III in the mid-nineteenth century.

Finally, Lassus proposed a new, fifth stratum of contemporary design. Just as the Louvre pyramid and the Arche de la Défense created a new axial geometry for the city, Lassus wanted the gardens to include a distinctive contribution of our own time. So, at a level some 170 centimetres above the current surface, he proposed a modern jardin d’eau or water garden (shown as pale blue on the plan). The new reflecting pools and cascades would appear to bring the Seine, running along the southern edge, into the gardens, as well as making a link with the existing pools and the new fountains in the Louvre courtyard.

Different surfaces would mark the different periods in the gardens’ history: for the Medicis garden there would be terracotta and grass; for Le Nôtre, compacted sand; for the nineteenth century layers, gravel. These changes underfoot would set up a rhythm for visitors to help them discover what was being revealed. This would be further supported by glass engravings showing the full garden plans of each period, and stone inscriptions marking the site of important events.

Thus, the Lassus proposal was for a layered landscape, with a mix of styles and histories on show; a veritable mille-feuille. Rather than giving one age precedence over another, his approach recognised the multiple significance of the Tuileries; they were, as he described them, “the sum of the thickness of places and events” and provided the opportunity to create “a space exploring time.” Freeing the gardens from what might be seen as the too imposing precedent of Le Nôtre also allowed new opportunities for people’s interaction with the landscape, which might include travelling shows and temporary works by modern-day artists.

Competition results

The Lassus proposal was not successful in the competition. Instead, the French Government picked the team of Louis Benech and Pascal Cribier, who essentially spruced up the existing gardens, with modern watering systems, restored garden features and new perennial plantings.

Mixed perennial beds today on the site of the nineteenth century jardin réservé.

Mixed perennial beds today on the site of the nineteenth century jardin réservé.

Belgian designer Jacques Wirtz was invited to rework the Jardins du Carrousel at the far eastern end of the Tuileries (which had not formed part of the Lassus plans), with a design of radiating yew hedges, today widely viewed as a failure.

There are those who might criticise Lassus’ proposals as a Disney-esque version of the gardens, deliberately (and wrongly) giving the impression that each stratum continued under the subsequent layers, and arguably creating a false sense of history by combining features that never existed together historically.

Yet his plans would have been a bold and thought-provoking way of treating these gardens. Landscape historian John Dixon-Hunt has argued that the Louvre pyramid forced us to see the historic space around it differently, and required an equally challenging garden to complete the design: something as demanding, as deep, as exciting. But, in the end, France’s courage seems to have run out with the pyramid, and the iconoclastic Lassus proposals for the Jardins des Tuileries will remain forever unrealised.

A version of this article originally appeared in Gardens and People, as part of a series I wrote on ‘Gardens That Were Never Built.’

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Paris post-script

My visit to Paris this summer revealed some odd goings-on at the venerable parc Monceau, in the heart of the city. Originally created in the 18th century as a flamboyant private garden, Monceau is now a majestic swathe of ancient trees, lush grass and stone follies.

The city of Paris (or at least one of its gardeners) has been introducing some rather novel elements among the traditional shrub borders and flower beds.

First, an earthern volcano complete with red and yellow annual flowers representing lava, and a water jet or two occasionally bursting out of the nearby perennial plantings.

Monceau 7 Monceau 1Then, alongside the main path, the earth opening up as if in some Halloween horror film, with elaborate catilevered sections of turf and more lava effect.

Monceau 5 Monceau 6And by the rotunda at the main entrance, another installation, with square tunnels carefully chiselled out of a large log. I am afraid the symbolism of this one escaped me.

Monceau 3 Monceau 4I just didn’t know what to make of these new features. A friend thought them interesting and different, and was puzzled by my disapproval. Maybe she was right. Perhaps they were contemporary artworks designed to challenge the rather staid representations of nature all around them, or deliberate modern references to Monceau’s creation in the 1770s as a “land of illusions“?

At least they were more thought-provoking than the terrible, scrappy planting in place in the Tuileries, Le Nôtre’s great processional gardens along the Seine. Here’s an example, with the Louvre in the background, the whole sorry mess set off perfectly by that officious little sign telling people they are not welcome.

Tuileries 1

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Some landscape designs look great on paper but don’t somehow work out on the ground. Here’s an example from the heart of Paris.

The jardin du Carrousel is a 7-hectare park between the courtyard of the musée du Louvre and the wonderful processional sweep of the jardin des Tuileries.

It was redesigned in the 1990s, following a competition won by Belgian landscape firm Jacques Wirtz. The winning design looked good in theory (and from an aerial viewpoint), with its series of radial lines stretching elegantly out from the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, first as stone lines in sand and then as yew hedges in grass. Statues by Aristide Maillol, which had been in the park since the 1960s, were placed playfully among the new hedges. The effect was like the rays of the sun, or stretching fingers, providing widening paths that encouraged visitors to promenade throughout the park. The radial design also echoed I. M. Pei’s glittering new pyramid in the Louvre courtyard, spreading the same triangular shape out horizontally on the park surface.

But on the ground, the park does not work well at all. From most angles it is difficult to perceive the radial design. The grubby stone lines are interrupted by litter bins, food stands and seemingly unrelated horse chestnut trees.

Stone linesThe grass is often threadbare and frequently re-turfed, with stone walkways being inserted where it is has simply proved unsustainable. The yew hedges look squat, lumpy and randomly arranged, and are often more of a barrier than an invitation.

Setec TPI

Sketch showing the major subterranean development below the garden. Image from setec tpi.

To make things worse, the yew has never properly established. Planted on what is essentially a platform over parking and an underground shopping mall, the 20,000 shrubs suffered from poor growth and needle drop. After the 2003 canicule (heatwave), extensive renovation of the planting was undertaken.

But, eight years later, the hedges are an ugly patchwork of shapes and colours: grey gaps where plants have died away completely, ugly splashes of dead brown branches, sombre patches of mature yew, weirdly unpruned green sprouts, yellow tips on some bushes, bright blue growth on others.Maillol statue

yew hedgeDying yewFrance has many examples of contemporary designs inserted triumphantly into historic places. This isn’t one of them. Somebody needs to be brave enough to say let’s stop patching and hoping things will improve, and admit this design simply doesn’t work.

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Villandry has been called ‘the finest potager in the world.’ For much of the year its beds are a mass of vegetables, from soft herbs and jewelled beetroot to blowsy purple cabbages and bright chubby pumpkins, all edged by long, low lines of trained apples and pears. It is a kitchen garden like no other, planted out with 60,000 colour co-ordinated vegetable plants, and then primped and tweaked by a team of eight full-time gardeners.

Empty PotagerBut it has its charms in winter too. We first visited one February, when we enjoyed the drama of the empty potager beds and the almost alien knobbliness of the pollarded limes (tilia). In the jardin d’amour, we admired the box hedging, tightly clipped into shapes that symbolise four different kinds of love. The low winter sun lit up the pièce d’eau (an elevated water garden). Almost the only visitors, we strolled along the terraces that surround the gardens, enjoying the vistas, and the early signs of Spring in the surrounding woods.

Pollarded limesJardin d'AmourPièce d'eau

early bluebells

For me as a landscape historian, Villandry is a magical place, a combination of very different eras and influences. The gardens were first created in the 1530s around a chateau built by Jean Le Breton, finance minister to the king, on the site of an earlier Loire Valley castle. This was over one hundred years before André Le Nôtre introduced the grand vistas and perspectives that we now associate with classical French gardens. Instead, the gardens at Villandry developed from the enclosed geometric forms of medieval monastery gardens, and showed the influence of the Italian Renaissance (Le Breton had been French Ambassador to Rome).

The chateau and gardens at Villandry passed through various hands including, at one point, those of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother. Fashions changed and, in the early nineteenth century, the gardens were replaced by what one visitor in 1854 called “a vast and delicious English-style park.”

As happened to so many great gardens in France, by the end of the nineteenth century Villandry was virtually abandoned, and the chateau threatened with demolition.

Villandry 1869

Villandry’s English park, from Casimir Chevalier, Promenades Pittoresques en Torraine, 1869.

Abandoned park

The abandoned gardens, c.1900. Image from Ministère de la Culture (France) – Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine.

It was saved by Spanish doctor Joachim Carvallo and his American heiress wife Anne Coleman, who bought Villandry in 1906. Carvallo recalled that when they first saw the property, “the park was in the English style, with dales and hillocks … thickly planted with newly imported exotic species: cedars, pines, thuyas, magnolias, all massed together on the sides of artificial little hills. The chateau itself was hidden in the middle of a forest of trees and greenery.”

Tuileries plan

Cerceau’s Engraving of the Tuileries garden (detail), c.1570s.

Sadly no records existed of how the gardens at Villandry had originally been laid out, and so Carvallo and Coleman turned for inspiration to the detailed engravings in Jacques Androuet du Cerceau’s Les Plus Excellents Bastiments de France 1576 and 1579.

Armed with Cerceau’s engravings of many French gardens, including the jardin des Tuileries, the couple designed and laid out a new garden for Villandry. It echoed the late sixteenth century styles that Cerceau had so carefully recorded, but could not fail to include more contemporary influences, including some Art Nouveau curves and more modern choices of plant.

Villandry continues to be run by the descendants of Carvallo and Coleman, and today is one of the most beautiful and most visited gardens in the Loire.

Aerial photo of gardens

Aerial photograph of Villandry gardens (detail), 1950. © Inventaire général, ADAGP

And that’s why I like Villandry so much. Yes, it has a dazzling potager. But it is also quietly beautiful in winter, and stands as a perfect reminder that historic gardens never simply refer back to a single point in time. As at Villandry, you can always scrape back the layers to find hints and glimpses of many different periods and influences.

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Signage. It sounds the most boring of topics. But in public parks and gardens, signs can make such a difference. Good ones make us feel welcome, confident, wanted. Bad ones leave us confused and irritated, sensing that our presence is merely tolerated.

I’ve been noticing some examples in Parisian landscapes.

Tuileries TuileriesFirst, some new signs in the jardin des Tuileries. Located in sensible places and frequently consulted, they are sleek and modern, with a map of the whole garden, and some arrows showing you the direction of the main features. To me they say: We don’t want you to see this as a fusty historic park: it’s a contemporary place. And we want you to stroll around and enjoy it all.

My only complaint about the Tuileries signs would be about this one at an entrance on the rue de Rivoli. Same simple design, but way too much information on some pretty complex opening times. It’s telling me: We don’t care if you feel welcome. We have our own elaborate systems and you just need to fit in with them. That panel along the bottom is also slightly discomfiting: We have already thought of two things you can’t do here, but we have left lots of room to list other forbidden activities when we think of them.

Tuileries

Here’s a terrible example. It’s the entrance to the historic cemetery at Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement. Those forbidding stone walls have a tiny brass plaque with opening times, and then some random interdictions: no dogs; no parking because the firefighters need access; oh, and no parking anyway. With that forlorn rubbish bin and the glimpse of a barrier beyond the walls, it must be one of the most unwelcoming entrances in Paris. It says: We never give a moment’s thought to our visitors. Except when they do something annoying, and then we tell them to stop.

MontparnasseHere’s another poor one, this time in the newly restored glasshouses at the jardin des Plantes in the 5th. Each glasshouse has lots of these obtrusive, multi-coloured information signs, set on twiddly metal frames. To me they mutter: We don’t really think our plants are interesting enough. We don’t trust them to hold your attention. We hope to distract you with these signs.

Jardin des Plantes

Disneyland ParisOne final example for now, at Disneyland Paris.

Generally the signage there is woeful, but here’s a good one, from the Alice in Wonderful labyrinth. It’s fun, appropriate, and shows you the way to something you may otherwise have missed. It says: We think a lot about your enjoyment. Have some more fun over here!

The next time you see a sign in a public park, think what it tells you – not about opening times or toilet locations – but about the attitude to visitors of that place.

I am going to look out for more examples too.

Post script: If you’re interested in signage, you might like to visit my gallery of other wonderful and woeful examples.

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Google image

Image from Google maps

In the 8th arrondissement is a street called rue de la Pépinière, literally the street of the plant nursery. Today it is a busy commercial thoroughfare, with a dedicated Hello Kitty store and a big Starbucks. But that name suggests its previous history.

rue de la pépinièreFor centuries this area to the northeast of Paris was open land outside the city walls. Between 1640 and 1720, a Royal Nursery (la pépinière du roi) was established near the hamlet of Roule, to provide trees, shrubs and flowers for the king’s gardens, which were being laid out by Le Nôtre and others at the Tuileries and Versailles. The grand new nursery was popular with visitors, including English doctor Martin Lister, who came to France in 1698 and wrote in his Journey to Paris that:

I was to see the Pipinerie, or Royal Nursery of Plants, in the Fauxbourgh of St. Honorie; where I met the Master or Controuler of it, Monsieur Morley, one of the Ushers of the Bed-Chamber to the King….

This Ground inclosed with high Walls, is vastly big, as it ought to be, to supply the King’s Gardens; Here are several acres of young pines, Cypresses, Vues, &c. also vast Beds of Stock July-Flowers, of all sorts of Bulbes, as Tulips, Daffadills, Crocus’s, &c. and therefore I could easily believe him, when he told me, he had sent from hence to Marli alone, in four years time, eighteen Millions of Tulips, and other Bulbous Flowers…. He further told me, that the furnishing the Trianon (a peculiar House of Pleasure, with its Parterres at the end of the Gardens at Versailles) with Flower-Pots in season, every 14 days in the Summer, took up no less than 92 000 Pots from hence. Also from hence he could plant and furnish in 14 days time, any new Garden the King should cause to be made….

In this Ground are several Houses to lodge the tender Winter Greens; amongst the rest there is one very large, which I may call the Infirmary of sick Orange-Trees.

As well as acclimatising and tending exotic species, the royal nursery was known for its training of trees and shrubs, including espalier peaches and apricots; it was also the home of one of the first two cedars of Lebanon introduced into France.

Jardin des Plantes 'twin'

One of the first cedars of Lebanon to be grown in France, at the Jardin des Plantes. Its ‘twin’ was planted in the Pépinière du Roi. Image from http://www.paris-pittoresque.com/jardins/2.htm

Rue de la Pépinière ran to the nursery and along its eastern edge as far as Roule. The other nursery borders were formed by rue du Faubourg St Honoré to the north, the Champs Elysées to the south, and the present-day rue du Berri to the west.

The original nursery was closed down in 1720, to make way for a proposed Mint, and the land was subsequently sold to the duc d’Artois (later Charles X) who planned ‘costly fantasies’ on the site, including a grand stable block (les écuries du roi), built  in 1781. The stables were demolished in the 1860s to make way for the hotel de Talhouët-Roy.

Ecuries d'Artois

A 1929 image of the écuries du roi, built on the site of the pépiniere and long-since demolished, by Paul Signac, from Christies.com

The royal gardens still needed vast quantities of plants, and so a new royal nursery (la pépinière du roule) was established further along rue de la Pépinière to the northeast. From the 1760s, the director of the nursery lived in a purpose-built house just across rue de Clichi (the present-day rue de Courcelles), and his team of gardeners made up much of the local population.

The role of the second royal nursery in supplying plants for the king ended with the Revolution and, despite desperate campaigning for its retention by the nursery director, it had disappeared completely by 1826.

The location of both nurseries can be seen on this detail from a wonderful 1761 map by Jean De La Grive, which is available along with many other old maps of Paris here.

1761 map of Paris (detail)

Most of the original rue de la Pépinière is today called rue la Boëtie. Only the little strip from St Augustin to St Lazare retains the original name.

Today it is almost impossible to imagine this busy part of Paris as a vast royal plant nursery, but that street name remains as the clue.

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This year, the Paris FIAC (a contemporary art fair) includes 28 installations in the Jardins des Tuileries.

Jean Prouvé

One of my favourites is the Ferembal House, displayed on the Terrasse des Feuillants. It was originally designed by Jean Prouvé, the French engineer and designer who created Modern furniture and prefabricated housing before and after the Second World War. Although not as well known as Le Corbusier or Charlotte Perriand, with whom he worked, Prouvé is regarded as a major influence on contemporary designers.

Jean Prouvé

Jean ProuvéThe Ferembal structure was created in 1948 as the upper story of an office block for a Nancy can factory. Dismantled in 1983, the pieces were kept by a discerning local, and acquired in the late 1990s by gallery-owner Patrick Seguin. He worked with Prouvé experts and leading French architect Jean Nouvel to recreate and reinvent the structure. It is now a single-story building with a new base, floor and external staircase added by Nouvel.

On display in the Tuileries, the House has that wonderful simplicity and strength that characterise the best Modern buildings. With its surfaces planked neatly in dark wood, it reminded me a little of the plainness of Shaker design, while the five striking steel portal frames recall the building’s industrial past, and its creator’s interest in mass production.

Jean Prouvé

One of the joys of its temporary home in the Tuileries is the splendid juxtaposition between the building’s sombre interior and the view through its horizontal banded windows of the garden’s many plane trees in their glorious Autumn colours.

Jean Prouvé

P.S. I was walking past the Tuileries today (9 December) and took photos of the house being dismantled. Not sure whether its departure was hastened by yesterday’s snowstorm (there were certainly workmen disconsolately removing slush from the roof), but it was all being packed into stout crates neatly stamped “FEREMBAL.” I wonder where it is headed now?

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Tomorrow, October 2nd, is Nuit Blanche in Paris, a city-wide contemporary arts festival that takes place over the course of a single night. Installations, performances and videos will spring up around the city, often outdoors, from Saturday evening, and all will be gone by early Sunday morning. Organised by the mayor’s office, the entire event is free to the public.

For me, the most memorable installation was in 2007, when the artists collective Compagnie Carabosse lit the Jardin des Tuileries in an event they called Nuit ardente aux Tuileries (literally, a burning night…).

As you can see from my photographs, this was far from a traditional candlelit display: two thousand fat wax tapers and torches swung crazily in the air and hunkered together on the ground to turn Le Nôtre’s gardens into an unsettling, hallucinogenic world of red and black, flame and darkness.       

It was magical, although us Brits couldn’t help muttering about health and safety laws – I am not sure the Mayor of London would be persuaded of the merits of suspending a massive ball of flame over St James’s Park from a crane, or allowing kids to dance round pots of burning wax…

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I have just written an article for Gardens and People on the extraordinary 1990 proposals by Bernard Lassus to reinvent the Jardin des Tuileries. They were an entry in a state-run competition and, sadly, a less adventurous plan by Louis Benech and Pascal Cribier was chosen for implementation. My article is part of a series on Gardens That Were Never Built.

So, last Sunday I spent an hour walking through the Tuileries, taking photographs for the article. It struck me how poorly they are currently being maintained. Many of the ancient horse chestnuts and plane trees are unpruned and sprawling.
Unclipped treesbox bedThe box bed near the Jeu de Paume was unclipped and full of bindweed and large thistles.

Oddly planted with a mass of variegated perennials and grasses, the two exedras are similarly infested with weeds and look sad and neglected. Some of the trees planted as part of the Benech / Cribier plan are struggling to survive. Much of the gardeners’ attention seems to go on the narrow little flower beds, with their high maintenance mix of annuals and tender perennials, all planted at a rather domestic scale.flower bed The Tuileries is of course still a magnificent processional space. But it would be sad if it is allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that another major overhaul is needed so soon after the 1990 concours that produced the remarkable Lassus proposals.

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jardins JardinThis weekend is the annual garden festival, Jardins, Jardin aux Tuileries, which takes place in a corner of Le Nôtre’s magnificent park in the middle of Paris.

It is tiny compared to many British garden shows – I strolled round it today in about an hour – but the setting is charming under the shade of the immense horse chestnuts, and there are worse ways to spend a scorching hot Saturday afternoon.

The display gardens are generally small, designed for the terraces and balconies that are all the green space most Parisians can hope for.

Among my favourites was a prettily planted terrace by Opus Paysage. All lilac flowers and small-leaved plants, it used individual specimens tucked in together, rather than the currently fashionable large swathes of single species, but still worked well and looked lovely.

There was also a jolly (if unrealistic) little roof terrace by Truffaut, packed with foxgloves and tomatoes.

Opus PaysageTruffaut

The best of the more obviously “designer” gardens in my view was by Christian Fournet, laid out in a modernist grid, with some striking grass loungers and bizarre fuchsia-stemmed trees.

Christian Fournet

Less successful was English designer Jinny Blom‘s garden for Laurent Perrier. It was a simple layout of grass, salvia and sculptures apparently representing seeds bursting open. In concept (and indeed in my photograph), it may seem intriguing and structural, but in reality I thought it odd and rather dull.

Jinny Blom

One of the joys of a show like this is the stands selling stuff. Here there were pots of two-metre tall climbing roses, scented herbs, books, prints, and some lovely second-hand garden ornaments from La Brocante Anglaise.

Climbing rosesLa Brocante Anglaise

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