“Is it French yet?” The client smilingly asked the very big question with a very small inquiry. That question was posed when the landscape was completed on this French Country Manor adaptation designed by local architect, Rick Lukasik. From the initial consultation the homeowners and the architect clearly stated their desire for a garden that replicated the spirit of the residence.
From that point, all design hinged on that solitary focus. Stereotypes might conjure a stylized formality associated with expansive public gardens like those at Versailles or with well known estate gardens like those at Domaine de la Riviere. And it would have been easy to proceed in that direction.
But a formal presentation was eschewed in favor of a more relaxed, livable garden awash with color. Country gardens at Le Vasterival, Kerdalo and Apremont were researched and inspirational to the design effort. All of the furniture, pottery and even prints on the cushions are selections based on a strong French or European influence so that their presence in the garden assists the desired atmosphere.
The front of the home features an expansive courtyard of salvaged clay paving brick ruggedly installed without regard to key lines. In 1850 the brick courtyard would have served as a paddock or small corral. Although no horse is quartered or tethered here, the defined area serves as a remembrance of that function. Now it serves as a motor court
The back garden features two distinct living areas of the same clay brick from the front connected by a narrow, irregular limestone path. The pathway is from the same quarry that supplied the accent stone for the residence. The larger space provides ample room for daily use and routine gatherings. The smaller patio is for quiet morning coffee, private conversation and is an implicit acknowledgement of the chicken coop that could have historically been in that space.
Planting beds are filled with color and individual selections confirmed to be consistent with period French gardening from 1750 to 1900. The lone exception is a solitary dwarf conifer in the front courtyard inserted as a minor whimsy. Herbs are tucked into pots and also in bed nooks close to the kitchen door as utilitarian design elements. French hybrid lilacs are scattered throughout the property for the romance that fragrance brings to a garden.
In totality the design strives to achieve not the stereotype of a French garden, but rather the archetype. It is a garden with a rural warmth and a sense of purpose. And the response to the client question, “Is it French yet?” Since the question was posed with a smile the designer also answered with a smile. “I believe it has everything but the accent.”
Original Design and Narrative by John Algozzini