“Designing a garden is like painting with plants,” says Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who has just transformed the garden at Le Bristol Paris into a verdant oasis of flowers and exotic shrubs.
In the 2014 film A Little Chaos directed by Alan Rickman and starring Kate Winslet and Matthias Schoenaerts, King Louis XIV, who’s commissioned landscape architect André Le Notre to design the imposing Garden of Versailles, proudly exclaims: “Heaven shall be here!” A symbol of the King’s power and majesty, the opulent and perfect Garden of Versailles paved the way for many an immaculate garden all over France.
In keeping with France’s love story with gardens, it’s not surprising that Le Bristol Paris and Countess Bergit Douglas ofMM Design would choose a world renowned landscape designer Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, to recreate its own little slice of verdant heaven in the heart of Paris, only a few steps away from the bustle of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Le Bristol Paris’ new garden is a hidden treasure, an oasis of flowers and calm, lined by plush drawing rooms and a colonnade adorned by blossoming orange trees.
Planting with the future in mind
Italian-origin Briton LadyArabella, who has been designing gardens for over 40 years, approached her new creation for Le Bristol Paris with deep respect for nature’s delicacy, her permanent source of inspiration.
Her bedrock philosophy for this project has been environmental consciousness and sustainability, and Le Bristol Paris has been a passionate partner. The hotel has a long-held commitment to responsible choices when it comes to the wellbeing of the planet, its guests and employees. These high standards have earned Le Bristol the Green Globe certification. For example, Le Bristol Paris vows to use only 100 percent plant-based and biodegradable products in its new garden.
Adhering to this philosophy, Arabella selected many plants native to the Paris region, suited to local conditions. She specified well composted organic soil as she usually does. Each tree, shrub and flower was deliberately chosen with care and with the aim to support the biodiversity of this precious Parisian oasis. “Trees, shrubs, water and flowers bring birds and beneficial insects to any garden, and I have incorporated all these elements at Le Bristol. The garden will be colonized by nature, giving it a country feel. It is a garden for every day, of all seasons,” saysArabella.
Each season of the year plays out in its full splendour in this ever-changing microcosm. In Spring, narcissi and tulips bring the first explosion of colour and give way to white bougainvillea and softly tinted pink and deep burgundy roses come Summer. The blooms of ornamental grasses and the copper toned beech leaves announce the descent into Autumn, and winter’s incubation is gracefully sculpted by evergreens.
Arabella’s garden is infused with warmth and welcoming elegance. In the traditional English style, her design balances controlled mastery with unkempt freedom. “My important inspirations come from having been brought up in a wild and remote part ofthe Lazio where magnificent hills and fields are awash with wildflowers, and from the formality and charm of the Renaissance gardens surrounding Rome, which were very much part of my education. The concept of beautiful wilderness in contrast and constrained by the formality of the design has always been my aim,” she says.
The garden has been completely rearranged, with its focal points resituated and its stable structures adapted to the new configuration. Hornbeam hedges on stilts create a new look, offering privacy and a lush immersion in nature. The green lawn is decorated with the soft symmetry of trees and hedges and a tumble of herbaceous plants. One of Arabella’s favourite trees, the Japanese snowbell, creates an illusion of depth and, in the upper garden, variegated tiered dogwoods, English Yew and evergreen Osmanthus topiaries add drama to the view overhead.
The garden’s centre is lined with deep maroon wood planters showcasing flowers and plants that will shift with the seasons, offering new colours and moods throughout the year. New green treillage, to her design throughout the garden, supports fragrant climbing roses and other plants.
The peaceful green haven’s calm is enhanced by the soothing sound of two contemporary fountains in natural slate “to create gentle sound and sparkling reflections,” she says.
A garden to live in
This garden is an enchanting meeting place. You can walk around it, relax in it and enjoy a vanilla mille-feuille or a craft cocktail, taking it all in.
The garden view from the interior suites and rooms is completely transformed. On the terrace at Epicure, the 3 Michelin starred cuisine of Chef Eric Frechon is served against an inspiring new backdrop. And the courtyard tables at Le Jardin Français now occupy this new Parisian Eden. The superb experience of king crab with grapefruit and a Jungle Speed cocktail is elevated by the presence of dahlias and Forget-Me-Nots, blended so perfectly into the scenery, you’d think they’ve been there forever.
Lady Arabella Lennox-Boydhas designed over 700 gardens all across the globe. Her inimitable style is inspired by her personal history and the limitless abundance of nature. She was born and raised in Italy at Palazzo Parisi, her family’s residence, a magnificent large house surrounded by gardens where olive trees coexist happily with cypress trees, roses, peonies and wild flowers.
It was there, amidst the hills of the Roman countryside, that she discovered her passion for gardening. But it was her first encounter with the traditional English garden that solidified her love for the craft. Throughout her career, she has accumulated an extraordinary portfolio and earned prestigious recognition. She is a 6-time recipient of a Chelsea Flower Show Award. Her garden designs span the globe throughout Europe, America, Hong Kong, Barbados, including private gardens for Sting, Queen Paola of Belgium and the Duke of Westminster, in addition to several roof gardens including one surrounding a Terence Conran restaurant.
“I want to imagine that if I was with friends, I would sit at a table in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by flowers, scent and foliage, or to linger on the intimate Woodland path to the Epicure restaurant,” says Arabella of her creation at Le Bristol Paris. “I would stroll along the perimeter of the garden, taking time to enjoy the detail of the flowers, stepped Euonymus topiaries and hedges and the sound of water. I would appreciate the theatricality of the upper garden and the courtyard patterns created by hedges and lawns, Carpinus hedges on stilts and the fountains.”
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