Designing for Versailles – Louis Benech | Landscape design | Landscape architect

The palace of Versailles: once the flamboyant
home of Louis Quatorze, an admirer of the fine arts. The king also invested heavily in the palace
gardens. One of his favorite spots was the Bosquet
du Théâtre d’Eau, a small woodland. It was a special honor for landscape architect
Louis Benech to work here. He regularly checks everything is in order. His idea was to get the water bubbling again,
but not like it did during Louis the fourteenths reign. “During the planning I always had the king
in my mind. He considered himself a divine ruler and was
always at the center of my thoughts.” The figures in the water remind us of the
dances held at the royal court. They were created by artist Jean-Michel Othoniel
together with Louis Benech. This is what it have looked like in the 17th
century. The modern day look is more open and undisciplined. “The woods in Versailles are in a belt shape. They are there to be explored and as soon
as you enter the inner part you have the total overview. And I realise, it’s the same in my own garden.” Benech has also left his mark on the gardens
of the Elysée Palace…over 20 years ago he planted new flower beds there and extended
the lawn. “I planted perennials to cover the steps to
the terrace. A colorful mix. The then President’s wife Bernadette Chirac
wanted roses but there are also lots of flowers that don’t wither.” These days President Emmanuel Macron and his
guests can still admire the flowers planted by Benech. Louis Benech meets the head gardener at the
Elysée Palace. He also has to adhere to the wishes of the
current residents. “Sometimes politicians or their wives tell
me what they like and what they don’t like. We also have to make sure that the gardens
are safe for children or the dogs…lots of French presidents keep labradors.” Benech doesn’t just work in and around Paris. He has created magnificent gardens the world
over like here in Morocco or in Greece …he created this garden near Nablus. He had very different ideas for a project
in New Zealand “I have also done very modern things where
there was nothing to work on, like in New Zealand was basically a field…I designed
a moden house and 84 per cent of the plants are local to the area. It is windy, the air is salty, so you need
the right plants for the climate. So why not stick to local ones?” Benech made his career breakthrough in 1990. He was part of the team that re-designed the
historic “Tuileries” gardens. Three thousand new trees were planted to create
a green oasis in the French capital. Another of his works: the Place Nicolas Forestier
on the outskirts of the capital. Benech created this lush space in 1994. As soon as the sun shines I really like coming
here for a picnic or to go walking. As a Parisian I need greenery and this garden
is fantastic.” Louis Benech: a man whose landscaped gardens
really grow on you.

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