Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Garden Visit: A Parisian Stylist in Provence

Search

Garden Visit: A Parisian Stylist in Provence

July 20, 2014

At the age of 69, Nicole de Vésian’s real adventure started. Retired from a career of designing hats and linens for Hermès, she decamped to Provence to embark on her most ambitious design project: a strange and hauntingly beautiful garden that incites in anyone who sees it a sudden desire to prune shrubs into pillowy, languorous clouds.

The property was recently listed for sale by agents Emile Garcin.

Photography via Emile Garcin.

Above: A mix of textures and the play of light on carefully shaped shrubbery create a peaceful, meditative space in de Vésian’s garden, La Louve (translation: “The She Wolf”). Rather than confining boxwood to a more conventional supporting role as a hedge or as edging for flower beds, she encouraged it to become the central focus.

De Vésian moved to the village of Bonnieux in 1986, after the death of her husband. When she bought her house, the garden was dilapidated, built on a series of terraces against a hillside. On the terrace, natural elements such as stone, gravel, and wood provide a backdrop for the topiaries.

Above: The swimming pool was added after de Vésian sold the property to art dealer Judith Pillsbury.

Above: For years, gardeners have made pilgrimages to this region, the Luberon, to see de Vésian’s garden. Maria Nation is one person who returned home from France determined to rip out her perennial beds and replace them with boxwood. “Her private garden was like some cosmic thunderbolt,” Nation says. ‘It took my breath away.” Nation’s western Massachusetts garden was entirely inspired by La Louve; to read about it, see A Secret Garden: Beauty in the Berkshires.

Above: The shrubs are as well trimmed as they were in de Vésian’s day.

Interested in learning more about the technique of cloud pruning? See Topiary: Cloud Pruning as Arboreal Art. And for more boxwood inspiration, go to For Love of Boxwood.

Updated from a post originally published June 7, 2013.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0