At a time when our threatened planet demands that we find solutions, how can we restore lost links with our earth, a remarkable original model of cohabitation, cooperation and symbiosis? This return journey pays tribute to all those who, as gardeners of the invisible, strive to make their environment fertile. At the entrance to the garden, burnt, wooden fences – totems of our societies that are centred on human beings – guide visitors' eyes towards monocultures of cereals, a reflection of our agrochemical chimeras that are scornful of the earth and wipe out centuries of life and expertise. Beyond this landscape of open fields, a hollowed out area like an amphitheatre reveals a colourful spectacle. The earth was once a sea. The lines from “below” emerge. Beyond, there is a luxuriant mix of hazel, elder and blackthorn. This is balanced by an under-planting of foxgloves, anemones and ferns. Around the edge, wild roses, brambles, gooseberries and raspberries grow alongside rhubarb, purslane and strawberry spinach. This nourishing forest is a glimpse of contemporary agroforestry; guided by human hands it gives hope of reconciliation between living things. As visitors return towards the exit, the fences reveal the “three sisters” growing at their feet. This ancient Native American companion planting brings together beans, sweetcorn and squash. Hidden among the cereals, wild flowers create an impressionistic touch, and are a sign of an indulgent and magnanimous earth that simply has to be asked to forgive.
Specialising in contemporary art, Cécile Allouis is a graduate of the École du Louvre and has a degree in applied foreign languages. After several years taking temporary exhibitions from the Jeu de Paume art gallery all around the world, she worked at the pioneering Palais de Tokyo when it first opened, and was responsible for looking after the art works and co-ordinating exhibitions. She is particularly fond of site-specific installations, that work with the spirit of their location and take account of the surroundings. Combining a wide variety of disciplines and echoing current ecological challenges, she sees the garden as a natural development to her career. She enrolled in the French School of Landscaping at Versailles in 2018. She has also taken part in various workshops on perennial plants at Valfredda (taught by Noël Kingsbury, Cassian Smith and Bettina Jaugstetter), and tries to link her ecological and visual arts interests in her work, especially by working with structure and colour.
A graduate of the French School of Agronomy and Food Science (ENSAIA), Isabelle Borloz also took an Agro-ecology MOOC (provided by Montpellier SupAgro) and classes at the Jean Hurpin beekeeping school. In 1993 she started her own business specialising in research and development of agri-food projects, and mainly designed and managed projects in Vietnam and Haiti. Wanting to widen her skill base and get back in contact with plants and the soil, she took a course in garden design and construction at the French School of Landscape Design in Versailles.
Coline Brondino studied at the French School of Landscape Design in Versailles after training as an interior designer. Drawing on these complementary disciplines, she now aims to link architecture to the landscape. She believes that by drawing on these beneficial links and using a contextual approach, architecture is able to evoke, reveal and embrace the landscape around it. She has a particular love of the mountains of the Luberon, Sainte-Victoire and Les Écrins, which have always been her places of escape. She has observed and learned from these wild, protected places that advance and retreat according to mankind’s whims, but which remain unpredictable sources of wonder, dreams and infinite liberty.
Roxane de Buttet is passionate about drawing and colour. She exhibits her paintings in parallel with her studies at the École Camondo School of interior architecture and design. She is also involved with Trait d’Union, an association that creates biodynamic plant structures. After her degree, she joined an internationally recognised Parisian interior architecture and design practice. Driven by a desire to reconnect with nature, and anxious to save the environment, she enrolled in the French School of Landscape Design in Versailles in 2018. She is now creating a very personal career that links her artistic skills in drawing and architecture to the poetry of gardening.
After studying pharmacy at René Descartes University in Paris, Clémence Duguit worked in pharmaceutical laboratories for nearly 20 years. Far – much too far – from nature. However most of the active ingredients and research in pharmacy originated in nature. It took her many years working in this field to realise just how fascinating these pharmaceutical and botanical lessons were. Strengthened by this realisation, and convinced that she needed to return to nature and slow down, she decided to train in garden design at the French School of Landscaping. As an apprentice botanist intrigued by plants, their fabulous diversity, their many botanical characteristics and their astonishing capacity for adaptation, she dreams of joining a group of enthusiastic and engaged botanists so she can learn alongside them.
Mélina Etorre joined the French School of Landscape Design in Versailles in 2017 after a previous career working as a press officer for communications agencies in Paris. With a degree in literature and music, she uses gardens to express her freedom, poetry, and environmental awareness. She has been attracted to nature since her childhood in Les Vosges, where she grew up a stone’s throw from the ancient forest, and she tries to share her love of the soil, plants and animals. For her, the garden is a place where awareness can be raised, where art and nature meet, and where heaven touches earth so it can accommodate all forms of life.
As passionate about the details of construction as strategic landscaping, Thibault Racault is in search of answers for the turning point that is the 21st century. Whether it is through urban planning, which he has practised for 11 years, through various cultural events, or projects linked to environmentally friendly construction, the creation of spaces that are abundant with life, especially plant life, is a deeply held ambition. The practical and aesthetic approach of the French School of Landscape Design in Versailles goes beyond technique and function and opens up new perspectives that are more in tune with the meaning given to landscaping projects.
Mathilde Plet is a photographer’s assistant in Paris and a student at the French School of Landscape Design in Versailles, two roles that she finds complement each other. “You have to observe, look and understand before deciding what to do.” Her training has been enriched by studying the biodiversity of urban flora and fauna at the École du Breuil school of horticulture.
With a wealth of experience in healthcare and caring for people, Sabrina Serres-Hamama has taken her passion for gardens and used it to heal. A professional prosthetist and orthotist, she decided to change her approach to caring for people by taking her passion for plants and revealing the link between nature and health. Her move towards organic farming and degree in consultancy and development led her to improve her skills and consider ways that social and personal challenges can benefit from an environmentally friendly approach. This has heightened her awareness of living things and led her to think carefully about how to create environments that promote everyone’s well-being. This quest has enabled her to bring together her training in different fields, and her convictions have naturally led her to an approach that is responsible, innovative and humane by creating gardens that are original, appropriate and unique. The French School of Landscape Design in Versailles is the perfect place for her to develop her ideas for creating therapeutic gardens in healthcare settings. Her project work enabled her to start work on creating a chair of Landscaping and Health in partnership with the charity Fondation Médéric Alzeimer. She also won the Truffaut Foundation's Project of the Future award for her design for a therapeutic garden for a care home in Montdragon. Her sensitivity, knowledge of the medical environment and understanding of landscaping projects make her a precious resource in the creation of a new approach to the environment surrounding healthcare settings.