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A Romantic Garden at the Edge of the Sea in France

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A Romantic Garden at the Edge of the Sea in France

Michelle Slatalla June 06, 2013

Located in Normandy near the seaside city of Cabourg, famous both for its mild winters and for being the real-life inspiration for Marcel Proust’s fictional Balbec resort, is a romantic garden created by French landscape designer Louis Benech.

Benech, whose later work has been informed by the time he spent as a member of the team hired to revitalize the Tuilieries Garden in Paris in the early 1990s, likes to create a formal structure–and then soften it with naturalistic plantings.

Photographs via Louis Benech.

Above: The way that plants grow naturally in the wild inspires Benech’s garden designs. “The basis of my gardens is native plants, and then I add exotic things to the mixture to make a blend,” he told an Architectural Digest interviewer recently.

Above: Benech, a lifelong plant lover who as a young man considered gardening a hobby, focused instead on international law in school. But after graduation he took a job as a nurseryman in Hampshire, England. His big break as a garden designer came in the 1990s when he was a member of the team hired to restore the Jardin des Tuileries.

Above: Benech has designed hundreds of gardens around the world, and has imbued each with a lyrical romanticism. “His approach, which combines French formality with a loose naturalism, serves as a good lesson for American gardeners, who tend to consider the two mutually exclusive,” a New York Times reviewer wrote recently.

Above: A study in yellow: irises, climbing roses and lady’s mantle.

Above: Tightly clipped formal hedges hold more naturalistic plantings at bay.

Above: For a look at more of Benech’s modern romanticism, ‘Of What Use is the Tuileries to Us?

 

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