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Garden Design

Louisa Jones fell in love with France

Warwick Forge

Warwick Forge

June 25, 2013

Louisa Jones fell in love with France and Provence as a student in the late 1960s and lives there to this day. English friends said there were no important gardens in Provence but she soon realised they were thinking of flower gardens and that vernacular gardens which had evolved over millennia were not appreciated.

Louisa Jones on Antiparos photo Monique Mailloux

Louisa Jones plant hunting on Antiparos. Photo Monique Mailloux

There is so much to love about Provencal and Mediterranean gardens – we think of avenues of poplars and pines, of sun bathed gardens and landscapes with timeless scenes of local stone and tiles, olives, thriving citrus in earthenware pots, tough flowers and vine clad pergolas yielding up superb vistas or cosy nooks for sitting and romancing.

Lafourcade garden, Provence. Design Dominique Lafourcade. Photo Clive Nichols

Lafourcade garden, Provence. Design Dominique Lafourcade. Photo Clive Nichols

Many are farm or village gardens supporting families with fruit and vegetables – but there are ancient, grand gardens if that is to your taste. And there are modern cutting edge gardens. Somehow the soils, conditions, climate and culture enable considerable diversity while retaining a continuity that flows through both ancient and new landscapes.

Mediterranean gardens are now part of our consciousness and Louisa Jones has been largely responsible. She has written over thirty books on them with a special focus on Provence. As she writes in her most recent (not yet published in English) book, Manifesto —

Mediterranean gardening is ..a way of living in harmony with the earth without contrived effects or heavy spending. Born of long human experience on the land, it is frugal and fruitful, serves many purposes and gives many pleasures, all year round. Today, it adapts easily to our growing ecological awareness, to individual creativity and community sharing. Above all, it perpetuates a longstanding partnership between human beings and their environment, tested ..in Mediterranean countries for millennia.
What lessons for Australia?

Louisa Jones is providing two presentations at the Australian Landscape Conference on 21-22 September 2013 in Melbourne. The two sessions are:

Private Garden, Provence, photo W Forge

Private Garden, Provence. Photo W Forge

1. Gardens of the Mediterranean:  why are they so successful?  (Abstract extracts):

In recent times, the gardens of Provence have become models all over the world, especially in regions with similar climate zones… the Mediterranean approach …has been lovingly practised for over 7000 years.  Its continuing appeal has …everything to do with making good use of very local resources. Gardening was usually not a leisure activity but part of survival..

Carmejane terrace by Coxe and Biehn photo Clive Nichols

Carmejane terrace by Coxe and Biehn. Photo Clive Nichols

Mediterranean gardens ..appeal to all the senses. They are like Mediterranean cuisine which grew from peasant roots and inspires imitation worldwide ..

At the same time, the moving mosaic adjusts to change: the frugal peasant garden is now a pleasure garden, ..more ecologically aware. Gardens range from top designer works to the personal creations by home gardeners.

And because they are planned to be multi-purpose, multi-pleasure, all year round, they are above all gardens for good living.

La Louve, the garden of Nicole de Vésian. Photo courtesy Louisa Jones, from her book Modern Design in Provence: the Gardens of Nicole de Vésian

La Louve, the garden of Nicole de Vésian. Photo courtesy Louisa Jones, from her book Modern Design in Provence: the Gardens of Nicole de Vésian

2. Mediterranean Landscape Art: Past and Future

Corfu jardin Doxiadis Photo L Jones

Corfu jardin Doxiadis. Photo Louisa Jones

For further information concerning Louisa Jones, her presentations and the Australian Landscape Conference visit www.landscapeconference.com

Register before 1st July and obtain an Early Bird $54.00 discount!

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Catherine Stewart
10 years ago

What an interesting subject Warwick. Sadly, that sense of community gardening is largely missing from Australian gardening where we tend to focus on the individual. Maybe that also reflects in the way we relate to our environment – a quest for dominance rather than collaboration?

Sandra Pullman
Sandra Pullman
10 years ago

Hi Catherine
I like your last sentence. Australians don’t get our own environment. I agree we still want to dominate it, look at what people say about a bit of bush that hasn’t been developed. They don’t appreciate all the organisms living there relying on it for their survival. It makes me sad.

Jennifer Stackhouse
Jennifer Stackhouse
10 years ago

Looking forward to the conference in September! Jennifer

Warwick Forge
10 years ago

Very nicely expressed Catherine and Sandra!

And why do we behave so? I suppose its about understanding, education and visual awareness isn’t it? This morning I received a Foreword from Dan Pearson he has written for Louisa Jones’ new book, Manifesto, (on Mediterranean Gardens). He had been with a small group to look at some of her favourite gardens in Provence and he puts it beautifully –

‘The places we visited had evolved out of the process of managing the landscape within the means of the people who lived there and the landscape had evolved with the people who tended it without feeling overwhelmed by the hand of man.
Over time and in a conversation with the land, an aesthetic niche has been carved as a response…
This series of essays look at the dialogue between a place and being part of it. It is a way forward that we should all be thinking about, one that draws upon the ethos of living within one’s means and using the garden to connect wholeheartedly with the places that we live in.
– Dan Pearson

Kim Woods Rabbidge
10 years ago

‘Gardens for good living’ – succinctly said.

I’m so looking forward to hearing Louisa Jones and the others at the conference – as are a fair percentage of Queenslanders also attending!

virginia rush
virginia rush
9 years ago

I love all your photos