Hubert de Givenchy is better known his couture creations for Audrey Hepurn than he is as a champion of gardens. But champion he is. Upon retirement in 1995, he was a key player in the restoration of the Potager du Roi (the King’s Vegetable Garden) at Versailles. Since then Givenchy has created a very French yet very modern parterre at his chateau in the Loire Valley, Le Jonchet.
In the 16th century, parterres (which don’t have to have any flowers at all) were called referred to as gardens a la francaise. Low clipped boxwood in patterns so ornate they resembled embroidery we’re actually called parterre de broderie and reached their peak at Versailles and were, as a style, appropriated by the upper classes across Europe. Large parterres required skilled maintenance and were labor intensive and exist today in more contemporary forms.
Image above via Pinterest
Back to Monsieur du Givenchy. The simple circular pattern of the parterre at Le Jonchet is what makes it able to exist today. Instead of broderie the pattern looks like embroidery hoops–fitting for a retired couturier. I don’t know if that was the intent. Although it still requires precise clipping and care, it is totally contemporary and utterly French. It is a garden I can enjoy, but not necessarily want.
The images of Givenchy’s Le Jonchet are from the December 2012 issue of World of Interiors…one of my favorite magazines.