Take the air!

 

 

 
 JARDIN DEMATTEIS Weber 5

 Un jardin méditerranéen structuré par Brigitte Dematteis, entre ombre et lumière.

Gardens

  • un coin de Paradis

03.2017

Today's garden is a living space in its own right. All the more reason to design and equip it in tune with the trends.

 

Brigitte Dematteis is a landscape architect on the Côte d’Azur, crafting exceptional sites in Menton, Nice, Cannes and Saint-Tropez for the last 30 years. There's nothing she doesn't know about Mediterranean gardens, describing herself as a specialist and defining the genre with sensitivity. The head gardener of Versailles, Alain Baraton, calls her an artist. “Light and shade are inseparable, and that is what sculpts plants,” says Dematteis. “Then it's up to us to work with them, placing volumes and colours so as to create masses and perspectives.” An inspired approach that does require some rules: “A Mediterranean garden should be structured, meaning conceived along strict lines. A profusion of plants must be avoided – never more than around 15.” And it's better to go for evergreens that keep their leaves all year round, then work with their different shades of colour – grey-green, shiny green, yellow-green – “to light the scene”. In her third book, Petits Jardins (Little Gardens), Dematteis dispenses advice and teaches us that “a garden needs to be thought out”. A vital preliminary if you don't want your little corner of paradise to quickly become a hell on earth, meaning extortionate watering costs, rampant weeds, endless pruning. “A well-conceived garden will gradually bed itself down naturally and require very little maintenance, so its owner will only need to garden when they want to, for the pleasure.”

 

A star is born: slate
But whether your garden is Zen, Mediterranean or informal, you can't escape the latest trend in contemporary styling. Forget Ionic, Doric or Corinthian pillars, scallop-shell fountains à la Botticelli's Birth of Venus and cheery bands of gnomes! The modern approach essentially hinges on adding a strong, graphic, mineral element, with the star of the moment being slate. “It has become an indispensable component,” explains Christophe Tomas, who knows what he's talking about as he runs CBL, a 30-year-old paving and tiling business in Vallauris. Slate is employed in its natural state, perhaps as a single slab planted monolith-style in the middle of a lawn or a series of stakes enclosing an open-air shower. Taking its vertical propensities even further as a formal expression, the ultimate slate statement comes as large slabs of Bubble slate (2m high, 50cm wide) perforated
with numerous holes of varying sizes. “You can use them as space dividers or simply for decoration by combining them in different ways." Another popular natural product is Massangis limestone from Burgundy, which comes tumbled in beige/grey shades and preferably with chiselled edges so as to create perfectly flat floors. "But do remember that these are ‘living’ materials that will patina over time,” warns Christophe Tomas. “So there's a risk they will no longer look exactly as they did when you chose them.” If you want to freeze your garden in time, the only solution is ceramic tiling, now available in very realistic faux-wood and faux-stone finishes – and so easy to maintain!

 

By Alexandre Benoist