ISSUE 28  |  Bastille Day

Steal This Look: The Spirit of Provence in a Walled Belgian Garden

July 15, 2014 1:30 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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Spotted in Antwerp: a charming townhouse garden by Archi-verde, designed for a couple of self-avowed Francophiles. After trips to Provence, the clients dreamed of lavender, grapevines, and a Mediterranean climate. But when they asked architect Koen Aerts to design a similar garden, he refused on the grounds that “conditions are totally different here. A garden in the Provence style would be a disappointment.”

Instead, Aerts re-interpreted the ideas behind a Mediterranean garden for the local climate, keeping in mind his clients’ dream of “a sunny atmosphere.” Oh, and they also got their grapevines.

Here’s how to recreate the look:

Above: A pergola made of grapevines, plus folding café chairs in sturdy teak (to withstand the Belgian climate), would be at home in the French countryside. A soothing dusk-gray facade and dark green trim evoke thunderstorm skies and the rolling terrain of Provence. Photograph via Archi-Verde

Above: To come up with our list of 10 Best Shades of Gray, we polled architects to reveal their favorite shade of exterior gray paint. A close match for the paint used on the facade in Antwerp is Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe (bottom row, second from right). It’s a complex mix with hints of blue-green. Photograph by Katie Newburn for Gardenista.

Above: For the trim? We recommend Farrow & Ball’s Black Blue exterior paint in an eggshell finish; $110 a gallon. Photograph (R) via My Friends House.

Above: A Preserved Teak Folding Chair is $148, and a Preserved Teak Dining Table measuring a generous 94.5 inches long by 47.5 inches wide is $2,998; both are available from Terrain.

Above: Steel cables strung above and across the terrace create a pergola on which grapevines grow. All you need to make a similar pergola are a few inexpensive components from the hardware store, including 3.75-inch-long stainless steel Hardware Eye Bolts (Top) to attach the cable to a vertical wall ($.96 apiece at Lowe’s); Steel Cable ($59.05 for a 100-foot roll at Grainger), and Stainless Steel Turnbuckles to adjust the tension ($28.99 for a packet of 10 from Sears). Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

Above: A seedless white table grape, Lakemont is disease-resistant and grows best on a south-facing wall; £25.99 for a plant in a 3-liter pot from Tree 2 My Door. For US gardeners, Lakemont is available for $8.25 per vine from Double A Vineyards. 

Above: Entwined among the grapevines are two LED pendant lights on cords. For a similar look, an Electrical Wire Frame Black Fabric Cord pendant is 15€ from Abat-Jour-Deco. For US customers, a 15-foot, 5-inch Hemma Cord Set is $5 from Ikea; add a small white shade. 

Above: In the backyard, concrete fences are painted a light, sunshine yellow to complement the gravel underfoot. Photograph via Archi-Verde

Above: For a yellow fence, we recommend Behr’s Colonial Yellow semi-transparent waterproofing stain. It’s one of our 8 Favorite Colorful Exterior Stains (we used two coats on the dip stick). Photograph by Meredith Swinehart.

Above: The architect arranged trimmed boxwood shrubs to look like “vast green rocks, with curves that exude softness.” An economical variety of boxwood is the common Buxus ‘Green Velvet’ (available at your local nursery, or for $12.95 from Wayside Gardens). Photograph via Ikea.

Would you like to recreate Provence in your backyard, too? See A Secret Garden: Beauty in the Berkshires for more ideas. And for the garden that started it all, see A Magical Garden Where Clouds Grow on a Hillside in Provence.