We normally visit the festival every other year as not only are the show gardens a talking point but we also enjoy the land art and sculptures exhibited within the grounds as well as the art within parts of the chateau. The theme for the 28th, Paradise Gardens, interested us particularly. I had assisted students from the University of Greenwich on a garden 4 years ago so not only did I realise how tight the 11,000 euro budget was but also the potential and constrictions of the build over 2 months from February to April. The planting has to look ‘verdant’ from day one and continue through with seasonal change until November. The in – house maintenance team gave good advise on the conditions in this part of the Loire.

This was our concept: The Singing Garden seeks to enchant and create a sense of wonder in the viewer. The work is an invitation to dream, perhaps to transport you to the Persian Pairidaeza of the Koran, where the fruiting aromatic plants captivate our senses and the melodious song of birds tempt us to reflect on a time when humans and the natural world lived in harmony.

The dawn chorus lures the viewer through the portal, past a planted screen into the enclosed beauty of the woodland of fruiting trees which  provide a cool resting place, an opportunity to lie back on the cushions, relax, gaze upward to the filtered tracery of the sky and the ornamental nests of exotic birds.

The magic is there for children and adults alike. The Singing Garden questions our perception of nature and the enclosed space. The use of sound will evoke the fragile but resilient  character inherent in the natural world. The sound will rise and fall silent, reminding us that human impact on the world we share can be destructive to other life forms. At heart the message is one of hope without complacency.

 The planting emphasises the practical aims, the plants that provide fruits, oils, seeds, whilst enchanting with colour and form. Recycled hard materials are used with subtlety and to acknowledge the ecological dilemmas that we are faced with today.

 We hope that The Singing Garden will create tranquility whilst raising important questions about our outside spaces, both cultivated and wild.

Following our application (Anny’s visual formed the centre piece) . . . ,

. . . we heard nothing for a long time. However, when we got the nod, work began in earnest including a more detailed set of drawings; sourcing a sound consultant who assisted with technicalities advising on amplifiers and loudspeakers to be housed in the surrounding hedging (we wanted to use bird song and other wildlife sounds from the natural environment ; sourcing a willow worker (Blaise Cayol who works from Tavel in the Gard https://www.celuiquitresse.com) for the screen and the nests that were to be hung in the 14 Malus ‘Evereste’. Plants were to be sourced via the Domaine. Mostly of good quality but a few less so. First site visit to our alloted ‘parcelle’ on a cold January day . . .

. . . the plot was smaller than the surveyors diagram so we had to adjust and rejig but we liked this plot immensely especially the overhanging branches from, and the presence of the large oak just beyond.

The main contractor was local and efficient – thank you Julien Bourdin https://www.bourdin-terrassement-paysage.fr

We made 3 visits of about 4 days each during the build with final planting in the second week of April – a frost followed us across the Loire. . .

Once the garden was complete and open on April 25th, the maintenance team took control. It was good to see and hear the public response especially to the sound element within the garden especially from the school groups during our visits in May and July.  I would have liked to ‘finesse’ the planting early on – all the digitalis disappeared and the substitute roses were very disappointing – but that’s a no-no’.

IMG_1496 copy

click on this link for some sound

The Festival closes on November 3rd and most of the gardens will be taken apart.

I see that I used this poem in August 2010 blogging about nurturing and producing crops on the allotment in Hastings. I feel it’s apt as an adjunct here primarily for the classical references – the Loire valley being packed with mythological, classical and traditional allusions in architecture, landscape and literature.

 

Lady of kitchen-gardens, learned

In the ways of the early thin-skinned rhubarb,

Whose fingers fondle each gooseberry bristle,

Stout currants sagging on their flimsy stalks,

And sprinting strawberries, that colonise

As quick as Rome.

Goddess of verges,  whose methodical

Tenderness fosters the vagrant croppers,

Gawky raspberries refugees from gardens,

Hip, sloe, juniper, blackberry, crab,

Humble abundance of health, hedge, copse,

The layabouts’ harvest.

Patron of orchards, pedantic observer

Of rites, of prune, graft, spray and pick,

In whose honour the Bramley’s branches

Bow with their burly cargo, from grass-deep

To beyond ladders, you who teach pears their proper shape,

And brush the ripe plum’s tip with a touch of crystal.

I know your lovers, earth’s grubby godlings;

Silvanus, whose province is muck-heaps

And electric fences; yaffle-headed Picus;

Faunus the goatman. All of them friends

Of the mud-caked cattle, courting you gruffly

With awkward, touching gifts.

But I am irrepressible, irresponsible

Spirit of Now; no constant past,

No predictable future. All my genius

Goes into moments. I have nothing to give

But concentration and alteration.  Pomona and Vertumnus

U A Fanthorpe

 

 

 

 

Richard Serra – an installation, a sculpture, a site specific sculpture – at Chateau la Coste to be viewed and interacted with on the Art and Arhcitecture walk around the domain. Seemingly I just snap away at things I like nowadays . . .

. . . remnants of the old farming estate have been kept such as the threshing floor outside a new chapel which I didn’t photograph.  A more interesting building ‘Four Cubes to Contemplate our Environment- a maze like structure from Tadao Ando. A palimpsest of translucent layers/facades offering plenty to absorb and think about  . . .

. . . on the way down to The Meditation Bell.

The Oak Room (Andy Goldsworthy), outside above and inside below, caught the imagination of the kids.

Big names here – Gehry, Ando, Bourgeois, Benech, Sigimoto – in this large glamorous and glossy winery vineyard cafe dining shop gallery space ‘art escape’.  Most likely the Ai Weiwei ‘Mountains and Seas’ might have flown away as my visit was some time ago . . . but I remember the very very beautiful work.

By contrast, also near Aix en Provence, a jardin remarquable, in a small town – Éguilles. Max and Anne Sauze have created somehing special in a relatively small space around one lone tree. Now there’s more and consequently increased shade and lots of bamboo. Max, the master of metal, is also a master of arrangements, of collections . . .

. . . and of pleating paper. All objets are recycled and put together to form whimsical and quirky and thought provoking ‘things’.

Mostly site specific and crossing from design to architeture to horticulture but intensely personal.

In every corner and on all surfaces, he can’t stop himself – thank goodness.

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all
this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
they are
useful. When they become so derivative as to become
unintelligible,
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand: the bat
holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf
under
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that
feels a
flea, the base-
ball fan, the statistician–
nor is it valid
to discriminate against ‘business documents and

school-books’; all these phenomena are important. One must
make a distinction
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
result is not poetry,
nor till the poets among us can be
‘literalists of
the imagination’–above
insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, ‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them’, shall
we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry. Marianne Moore   Poetry 

cairn + lotus

Personal; intriguing; nourishing; an oasis; a pleasure garden; inward and outward and upward looking; et al. Just a quick mind map to test out feelings of the time here in Sambucs and there are of course some elders as the title of the garden suggests . . .

colour

. . . narrow paths run across the terraced land leading to areas, some intimate for lounging and the odd larger space for eating, through varied vegetation interlaced with sculptural features; some discreet . . .

features

stones

. . . and some functional constructed from smooth river stones.

terrace + pool

Many pools alongside the dry stone walls holding the changes in level provide habitats for dragon flies, frogs and snails.

lotus

better 2 weeks ago

Poetry, inscriptions and selective writings are part of the experience. Above is the classic comment: ‘you should have been here two weeks ago, the garden looked so much better then’.

messages

clement

Zinc panels here in la Porte des Étoiles, display selected inspirational thoughts from Gilles Clément from le Jardin en Mouvement. Apposite for this garden that is managed on ecological systems and also retains an unmanicured look which in turn relays a welcome sense of freedom. Heaps of composted spent garden waste sit naturally at path junctions.

This impressive static cairn stands proud against the open extent of the south facing boundary. . . .

big cairn

. . . while glittering stipa shimmers against a darker background in a more enclosed area . . .

stipa

lythrum

. . . lythrum, indigenous to the ditches here in Hérault, provide some flower colour. I was hoping for more colour but in truth, I should have planned an earlier visit. Next year a return in May perhaps and then better photos? Lovely garden Nicholas and Agnès and tasty lunch too.

arch final

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Rainer Maria Rilke   A Walk Poem

 

salvias chateau 1

A follow on post from this. And to set the scene: rivers of salvias – masses of Salvia ‘Amistad’ and S. uliginosa in late summer run riot through the planted areas around the park and the two areas of the festival site. Just wanted to acknowledge a  couple more of the temporary garden installations that worked well.  ‘À table’ – the theme of an edile table which recurs and never disappoints – to share a meal in the form of a garden party but, here, seated on benches with carnivorous plants suspended as lights over the long refectory table packed with old species of edibles,produced by pollination,  so unsuitable for large scale cultivation – black tomatoes, purple peppers, violet cauliflowers and climbing spinach . . .

a table

. . . the planting, edging the garden, reverts to the ever popular flowery mead style.

a table perimeter

la cuisine africaine 3

‘Cuisine Africaine’ showcased edible plants and seeds from the African bushveld required for the survival of human, insect and animal life.

Centre stage in this garden was a spectacular metal and wire wrapped sculpture  – a homage to the significance of the Boabab tree in this landscape – the canopy offering shade for villagers and travellers. A place  to meet, to rest and to eat under.  Leon Kluge built a good garden.

cuisine africaine

cuisine africaine 2

Farfugium japonicum, an evergreen ligularia, looking resplendent in containers in the hospitality area. An extremely French look –  but beware as this plant needs copious watering grown like this.

farfugium

In the Prés du Goauloup, a large flat area of landscaped park adjacent to the festival site, some of the garden installations from previous years have been relocated; many are Chinese . . .

carre et rond 2

. . . the red ribbon of ‘Carré et Rond’ or ‘land and sky’ integrates the contemporary concept of storm water management with the philosophical ideas of the link with man to water in traditional Chinese garden. Designed by Yu Konglian for the 2012 festival.

carre et rond 1

carre et rond 3

poplares 1

I find this poplar group very pleasing and, equally interesting, is a site specific installation by Chris Drury called ‘Carbon Pool’ –  a magnetic spiral of felled cedar lengths capturing some of the Goualoup Park secrets and appearing to drag them down into the earth.

New planting of Liquidambers make a seasonal frame.

chris drury 1

boardwalk

Selected existing mature trees are partnered with sculptural but also practical landscape elements . . .

sculptural bench

. . . leaving the festival but looking forard to the next event. views across the Loire river beyond the fiery Rhus – a willow and poplar landscape just losing the green and softening to yellow.

rhus + Loire

I have built a house in the middle of the Ocean

Its windows are the rivers flowing from my eyes

Octopi are crawling all over where the walls are

Hear their triple hearts beat and their beaks peck against 
the windowpanes

House of dampness

House of burning

Season’s fastness

Season singing

The airplanes are laying eggs

Watch out for the dropping of the anchor

Watch out for the shooting black ichor

It would be good if you were to come from the sky

The sky’s honeysuckle is climbing

The earthly octopi are throbbing

And so very many of us have become our own gravediggers

Pale octopi of the chalky waves O octopi with pale beaks

Around the house is this ocean that you know well

And is never still.  Guillaume Apollinaire  

Ocean of Earth to G.de Chrico.

 

 

 

 

 

sauvage 3

Prevarication – that’s the problem or is it an excuse? Or plain laziness? Anyway time to acknowledge a garden that was, but is now gone. A little explanation:  ‘The Savage Garden’ designed by 4 students from University of Greenwich landscape architecture/garden design course was selected to form part of the 2015 International Festival of Gardens at Chaumont on the Loire. The design was edited by Jamie Liversedge – senior tutor – with just a little help from me and built by students and Jamie + myself. Here he is talking about the garden . . .

chaumont opening-pana2 copy

. . . and the image above shows the site last April just before the opening of the festival – all other images show the garden in September just before the closure. The theme was ‘collections’ and the selection jury including Maestro Patrick Blanc defined the collection to be plant based. Le Jardin Sauvage  – tropical, a jungle, somewhere to get lost in, a refuge, where wildlife inhabit the overhead canopies, where Le Douanier Rousseau would have felt entirely at home – was a challenge not necessarily to build but to plant. The plants required time to envelop the site even though we selected some large specimens but over the time span of the festival, the growth of the planting was successful. The expectation was achieved. An angled route over crushed broken tile lead through lush foliage highlighted with brilliant flower colour across a bridge and under rusty steel arches – red was important in the colour palette from early on in the design stage. A few images . . .

sauvage 2

detail planting

detail mina lobata

. . . Mina lobata clambers over the steel reinforcing bar arch structure with a dark tender pennisetum covering the ground.

detail structure

detail canna

Cannas, hedychiums and begonias eventually came to the party. It looked good and the festival staff and visitors appreciated the concept and the finished result.

detail dicksonia

Another garden that caught my eye (really the best in the festival, for me) Le Jardin du Teinturier – a dyer’s esate probably in Marrakech – where the utilities of plants and the pigments extruded from berries, stems and roots were shown in a cinematically installation. It was perfection – well ordered, inspiring and beautifully designed . . .

le jardin du tein 1

le jardin du tein 2

le jardin du tein 3

. . . striking berries of Arbutus.

le jardin du tein arbutus

The gardens were eclectic in character under the umbrella of a given concept – always thought provoking and surprising.  ‘Réflexion d’un Collectionneur’ – a garden based on nature in a garden around a museum or gallery where the visitor views without knowing what lies beyond. Enticing – paintings or mirrored panels show the world behind the viewer. Is it a secret garden or a museum collection? Whatever, it was very clever.

reflexion 4

reflexion 3

reflexion 5

carnivore

Carnivorous plants were centre stage in a few gardens and this perforated screen shown below in Le Collectionneur de L’ombre was pleasing – a collection of ferns needed shade. The poem, well, a jungly romp with Spike Milligan that conveys the fun aspect of Le Jardin Sauvage. To follow a few more images and words on other parts of the festival.

collection de l'ombre 1

On the Ning Nang Nong

Where the Cows go Bong!

and the monkeys all say BOO!

There’s a Nong Nang Ning

Where the trees go Ping!

And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.

On the Nong Ning Nang

All the mice go Clang

And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!

So its Ning Nang Nong

Cows go Bong!

Nong Nang Ning

Trees go ping

Nong Ning Nang

The mice go Clang

What a noisy place to belong

is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!    Spike Milligan 

 

 

 

martin

Back to see the Agnes Martin again and realised that I want to absorb it all again and again – no photography allowed and anyway the reproductions in books and on line are all poor, which I like; some plants and landscapes too don’t photograph well – they’re above and beyond our manipulations. So spent some time watching the video on the ‘landing’ of level 2 with little people jumping on and off the benches, falling over, crying, being promised things if they behave or threatened if they didn’t, being fed and all the usual activities of young families spending their day sheltering from the rain.

martin1

martin2

Here Agnes is saying:’and the older I get the more I like to paint’.

martin 4

‘To progress in life you must give up the things that you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. the things that are acceptable to your mind’.

in the collection displays, full frontal on the photography and an atmosphere akin to a jamboree – folks engaging in their own way – with work displayed that took my breath away. Read here for lists . . .

crowds1

. . . Rothko and Richter incorporated with eclectic hangings. The Joseph Beuys room is included as part of the journey  . . .

beuys2

beuys1

. . . the strength of his work contrasted today with the watery views outside  . . .

gough building

st pauls

. . . but then into a gallery where Bacon’s powerful colour concentrates the mind. A friend in New York posted  this  recently – similarities? or not? But she always makes me smile – an Essex thing perhaps.

bacon

crowds2

Thought provoking words from Bill Viola and then plenty of time to mull them over in Brindisa watching the rain cascade over Borough Market while tasting a little tapas – good day.

billviola

brindisa

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round. Margaret Atwood

grass sissinghurst

And a return visit – always a pleasure after doing a little work in a garden nearby – and 2 months on. Seeing the shadows on the grass  – just a casual pause before hitting the glamour of the garden rooms. Roses in full bloom – it’s that time of the year after all. My interest here is how the rose works against/with the background and as part of the composition – not many idents for the plantaholics, sorry – so below the soft coppery/pink tones of this rose at the entrance that work so so well with the old brick facade.

rose 1

rosees sissinghurst

sissinghurst roses 2

On the wall that divides the front courtyard and the rose garden – a Clematis – C. montana ‘Marjorie’ and time for a pause to remember a much loved aunt – a lady so confident, elegant and happy with herself and so interested in the younger generation.

clematis montana marjorie

rose garden

From the rose garden,  the eye slides easily to the slim towers. The planting here in this garden room appears to have lost its way a little. Once upon a time at the end of ’60’s and into ’70’s, the theme was simple: roses and shrubs with some underplanting and quite a bit of soil showed – this was fine. But now with the custodianship of the National Trust there appears to be a need to provide a continuous show of anything and everything – a fruit salad look has evolved with any old thing popped in to ‘please the punters’. Big organisations taking the individuality out of their product and, in this situation, not the head gardener or gardeners fault. Happily the planting in the Cottage Garden has  maintained the original clear ethos  – planting with a predominance of  hot colours.

end of spring walk

Within the nuttery, Dionysus stands calm and thoughtful as he has for years – a quiet interface between the Spring Garden (now in quiet post season mode) and the Cottage Garden. A delightful detail was on show low down –  Tulip sprengeri around the peeling trunk of Acer griseum . . .

tulip sprengeri + acer stem cottage garden

. . . . here too a specimen Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ climbing skywards against the cottage walls.

mme alfred carriere rose cottage garden sissinghurst

Overhanging the walls of the Moat Walk are a couple of splendid Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba” . . .

wisreia florinbunda sissinghurst

wisteria floribunda alab sissinghurst

. . . and a single Wisteris venusta with larger fleshier foliage. A more  restrained, intriguing and, therefore, perhaps sought after plant.

wisteria venusta

Near the herb garden, back with the norm – a pair of mauve flowered wisteria standards – old and gnarled and exotic

wisteria sinensis sissinghurst

white garden sissinghurst

And at half past five, just the right time to enter the White Garden – another  Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ clothes a wall. The light starts to fade. A custodian arrives – someone delightful, a Gilbert and Sullivan character and part of the final act – to announce the closing of the garden . . . exit centre stage under a Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ on the tower.

white garden rose sissinghurst

rosa bansiae sissinhurst

All her youth is gone, her beautiful youth outworn,

Daughter of tarn and tor, the moors that were once her home

No longer know her step on the upland tracks forlorn

Where she was wont to roam.

All her hounds are dead, her beautiful hounds are dead,

That paced beside the hoofs of her high and nimble horse,

Or streaked in lean pursuit of the tawny hare that fled

Out of the yellow gorse.

All her lovers have passed, her beautiful lovers have passed,

The young and eager men that fought for her arrogant hand,

And the only voice which endures to mourn for her at the last

Is the voice of the lonely land. Vita Sackville-West Mariana in the North

 

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