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Louis Benech, the Chameleon Gardener

Published on , by Mylène Sultan

His renovation of the Tuileries Garden in 1990 made him a household name in France. In thirty years, the French landscape gardener has designed some three hundred gardens, trying to protect them from a noisy world.

  Louis Benech, the Chameleon Gardener
How do you approach work on a historic site? I absorb the place, immerse myself in the archives and talk a lot with the people who live there. For instance, at the Château de Pange, near Metz , I listened to the owner for a long, long time: the site had been ruined for decades, but he knew the history of it so well that I could imagine and then recreate its physiognomy. For the Water Theater Grove at Versailles , I first tried to grasp the concepts behind its construction in 1671. And as the competition did not give too many guidelines, I was able to give free rein to my own reinterpretation. But my stomach was in knots following in the footsteps of André Le Nôtre  (1613-1700)! Is André Le Nôtre one of your models? For me, he is the greatest landscape designer of all time, an illusionist of perspective with an extraordinary feeling for levels. This is particularly visible at Vaux-le-Vicomte , where everything is based on trompe-l'oeil and the opposition of proportions. Closer to our times, I really admire British landscape gardener Russell Page [20 th century – Ed.], for his informal gardens, with…
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