I often say of my client that it is telling that she didn't buy "Le
Grand Fontanille", but instead she bought "Le Petit Fontanille".
This project was an opportunity to work in a completely new milieu.
I was asked by a new client if I could come to France. She had seen
my work in a number of places, and liked it very much, and so, I
Located in the South of France, this garden is in a completely
different context than our American landscape. It is agrarian, but
not agrarian in a way I knew. I had to learn about plant material,
what is native, what would happen to plant materials I might
introduce. Would it grow? My predecessor on the property had been
Peter Coats, and I took many cues from his work. I enriched the
garden by adding garden architecture, stone work, and refining and
creating new garden settings.
This fountain is a found architectural piece from a nearby village and
its inclusion in the features of the garden led to the name of the
property, "Le Petit Fontanille" meaning "little fountain", and gave
its name to the vineyard and wines produced there as well.
The dark green of Italian cypress and the gray green of the olives
in this painting shows a landscape in a form often referred to as
chiaroscuro. My client commissioned the painting to preserve our
garden design in another, more permanent, form.
One of our first projects was to redesign the stonework and the
piers for these stairs which lead away from the motor court. As is
typical in a lot of my work, I spend a lot of time correcting other
people's mistakes. We commissioned the ironwork grape leaves which
hold the railings in place.
This terraced pattern garden provides a respite for the eye and the
spirit as you ascend the steps from the motor court. I added olive
trees to this part of the garden and invited my long-time friend
Rosemary Verey to come over and work with me as I thought it would
be fun to collaborate with her and her genius. Her first idea was to
take the olive trees and turn them into clipped standards.
On axis between trees we put in columns, a pergola, a place to sit,
and it became the axial point as a fountain. At the far end, nestled
into the landscape, is a "term", from the Greek god "Terminus", the
god of boundaries. It marks where the garden stops in cultivation
and goes into the wild.
At the top of a rise, one comes to a pool, designed in indigenous
stone and colored to reflect the Provencal sky. Again, it is a pool
turned into a gardenesque feature, with an 18th century pavilion we
found (actually it was an old laundry room) and brought in to become
the pool pavilion. It serves also as a folly, and is placed to
reflect in the water. In the foreground of the pool pavilion, a
wildflower meadow slopes away and overlooks two patterned gardens,
one a cutting garden and one a potager.
Enclosed by indigenous stone walls and with a fence designed after
an 18th century painting owned by the client, the gardens provide
necessary food and adornment for the house. The arrangement of
flowers in the cutting garden was laid out by Ms. Verey.
As a designer, all my gardens are challenges to me, but this was the
first time I'd worked abroad, and it was a very quickly learned
lesson to go and adapt my ideas to a completely different region of
the world, taking my understanding of the use of plant materials and
adapting it to create a garden setting.