Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Enchanting Gardens of Dominique Lafourcade

When we first built our home (a Monterey Style Spanish Colonial) over twenty  years  ago I had absolutely no gardening experience.  Our home was to be built on ten acres and the building site itself literally did not have a tree on it.  I came from a family of gardeners but had no interest or expertise.  I did realize that the house needed grounding with plantings of some sort.  Luckily I was introduced by a friend to a lovely lady named Helene Daniels.  Helene immediately envisioned  a garden in the California Mission Style (I was from Indiana…barely knew what the missions were!!). When I look back I can’t believe how lucky I was to have found her.  She built the base of our gardens, much of which still stands today.  We have heavy clay soil so I found some things just didn’t work like santolina (which I replaced with nepeta).  I studied the English Cottage Gardens and experimented with that style.  The problem is on the Central Coast of California water is at a premium.  Hence my garden has evolved from the Spanish mission garden, to my experiment with an English garden, to the realization that the garden style that really works in my microclimate is that of the French.  I have replaced grass with gravel (yes we have not a blade of grass).  I love roses, not the modern varieties, but the antiques and the David Austin’s… that are beautiful in the landscape (unlike the modern roses) and are more disease resistant and require less care. Over the years I have shovel pruned many a rose and or uncooperative plant. Joni from Cote de Texas posted some pictures of my garden on her blog here http://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2012/02/fabulous-california-vacation-giveaway.html/   I have learned from my blogging friend Tara Dillard (read her blog here…http://taradillard.blogspot.com/.) and others that the landscape should reflect the land.  Plant the plants that thrive in your soil and micro climate.  Don’t fight the environment. The older I get the greater my appreciation is for the French Style of gardening.  If I knew then what I know now I would have wider paths, more gravel, fewer plants and more that grow naturally in my particular environment.

I can’t remember the first time I encountered the beautiful gardens of Dominique Lafourcade.  One of my first garden books was Jardins & Bouquets (in French no less). It was my first introduction to her wonderful work. I still often refer to this book even though it is in French! Every time I encountered one of her gardens I was in awe… even though I was yet to learn her identity.  Her sense of space…..in her own words "A garden is first and foremost a work of art, with the gardener playing the roles of architect, sculptor, musician and painter in turn. A garden should move visitors, setting all their senses aquiver"  For years she didn’t even have a web presence.  Now that she does… it is a garden of the senses…go here http://www.dominique-lafourcade.com/.  Tell me that you aren’t absolutely  encapsulated in her world…I know I am….again…and again…and again….

 

image 

                                                                                                                               photo via Cote de Texas

 

 

photo clive nichols

photo Clive Nichols

photo courtesy of Clive Nichols

photo courtesy of Clive Nichols

photo susan worner tours

 

 

 

 

clive nichols

clive nichols

clive nichols

clive nichols

clive nichols

clive nichols

 

 

Balmy summer evenings are spent among the classic imagery of Provence, created by Dominique on what was once little more than a barren farnyard.

photo courtesy of Roger Moss

                                                                                                                                               clive nichols

 

image

                                                                                                                               photo Events of Prestige

 

                                                                                                                The oft photographed Alee of Olive Trees…

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                                                                                                                                              source unknown

 

image                                                                                                                                       via cote de texas

 

What do you think?  Are you absolutely mesmerized by her gardens?  I am sure you have pinned a garden on pinterest or admired a garden in some publication or blog and wondered who is this amazing talent?  Joni at Cote de Texas did one of her wonderful series titled Americans in France and showed  some of her gardens here http://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2011/03/americans-in-france.html.  Trish of the wonderful blog Trouvais wrote a story about the Lafourcade’s here http://trouvais.com/2009/09/23/terrace-view-in-provence/  if you would like a little more history.

 

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13 comments:

  1. Hello Cindy ~ Thank you for featuring Dominique Lafourcade! Truly one of the most talented and gifted garden designers! Yes, I have many of those images on my Pinterest boards :-)

    Your garden is beautiful, as I've mentioned before!! I, too, have a Spanish Colonial style house. And, I also planted santolina in our heavy clay soils....that didn't do well. I've replaced it with English Hidcote lavender, which has done well to my surprise.

    Thanks for sharing your garden experience with us! I can relate ;)
    Loi

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    Replies
    1. Hi Loi
      I have tried many different lavenders and the English versions do best in my garden as well. The Spanish get's woody and falls over, the provence seems to die out in clumps. In California Lavender is only supposed to last about seven years. However if you hack it back religiously three to four times a year it sometimes lasts much longer ! You are my Eastern Garden Guru! Love seeing and hearing about your garden! Cindy

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    2. I wonder where Santolina actually grows well...I have never seen it in good form!!

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    3. Definitely thrives in Provence and Southern Italy!! Anywhere hot and rocky, I think.

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  2. Shared this on my Facebook page for ME, ME, ME.

    I'm somehow even mentioned? How?

    Anyway. Have a written-in-French garden book too. Le Vasterival. By Princess Sturdza.

    I understand every word. Don't know how, but I do.

    This post is melting my heart. Wish it were a little book. I would buy it.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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    Replies
    1. Tara
      You are my garden guru! I have learned so much from your posts and books! Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Thank you so much Cynthia for stopping by! I really appreciate it!

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  4. Hello, How do I get in touch with you? There is no email or contact info listed .. please advise .. thanks .. Mary. Please contact me maryregency at gmail dot com

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  5. Mesmerized is the right word for it - definitely! I loved hearing about your learnings about your garden too, since we are just settling in here in Seattle. For the most part it is not landscaped and wild with large evergreens (very Seattle-ish!), ferns and lush greenery. BTW I tried to see your house (it sounds lovely!) on Joni's blog but it said the page didn't exist. And yes, we are definitely on the same wavelength on our blogs. :) Have a great long weekend!

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  6. I want to thank all of you "seasoned" bloggers for taking the time to comment on my little blog..I so appreciate it. You so inspire me every day!!

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  7. Cindy- I never put two and two together to realize that the house Joni posted was yours... it is wonderful!
    I adore "round" and especially in the garden... and so many of these photographs had round in them- perfect in my book!
    best,
    joan

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