Monday, 9 November 2009


This blog is all about my sources of inspiration. This summer I visited the annual garden festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire with fellow students from the course at Oxford College of Garden Design. The show gardens are arranged in the grounds of the chateau, and although many of them change each year, some installations have been made permanent.

The valley at the end of the grounds is hidden amongst the surrounding woods, but as you near it the perpetual fog hugging the tree trunks and the dripping walkways announces the beginning of a short walk through a magical landscape. The valley from this point on is clouded with artificially produced mist, drifting and curling through the ferns and lower branches of the woodland, drawn rapidly upwards in the summer heat to hang in light-shot columns that appear to support the crowns of the trees.

This is a masterly intervention - it evokes the distant prehistoric past as we have imagined it, shrouds the view for short periods then clears, plays tricks with distance and sound. All is impermanent, evanescent, in the middle of an all too solid, ancient forest. This is the essence here - the tension between the established and the fleeting. In many ways it is an extreme version of other gardens - the evolving presence of flowers is transmuted into a rapidly changing landscape of mist, the architecture of hedges, shrubs and trees is reflected in the use of the original forest to hold and anchor the ever-changing transient elements of the scene.

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