La Louve

La Louve
La Louve...Garden of the She-Wolf, Bonnieux, France. La Louve is a private French contemporary garden, open to the public, in the town of Bonnieux in the Vaucluse Department of France. It was created beginning in 1986 by Nicole de Vésian, textile designer for the Paris fashion house of Hermès. It is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Notable Gardens of France.


Green Rooms

As any reader of this blog knows by now, green is my favorite color. Herewith, rooms that are elegant or restful or vibrantly youthful, ... all in variations of green.

The palest of sage-green on the walls of the room below glows against the pure white woodwork. Notice how the leather seats on the dining chairs pick up the color and repeat the theme of green with white. And how about that table top!

Veranda (designer unknown)

While the pale, almost mint-green of the walls in the two rooms below would suggest the home is in the South, the addition of warm woods, and pieces of bamboo furniture would make the design appropriate almost anywhere.
House Beautiful (designer unknown)

House Beautiful (designer unknown)

One of my favorite combinations is sage-green and pale pine. The addition of plaid silk draperies adds a note of casualness to an otherwise formal room.
Design by Cynthia Hurley (Southern Accents)

The foyer of a home designed with a young family in mind. Here, lime green is relieved with lots of white, natural light and a wood floor.
Room designed by Janie Molstee (Southern Accents 2006)

Again, the successful combination of green chairs set around a dark wood table. I love the addition of the pale Swedish caned-back settee and side chairs.

Room designed by Ray Booth (Veranda)

Living room of the home designed for a young family. Again, wood and white take a little of the punch out of the lime-green wall color. And who said, red and green is just for the holidays!
Room designed by Janie Molstee

The use of fabric in separating adjoining rooms is very European. Here, the fabric both softens the stone walls, but when guests are over for dinner, the curtains can be loosened from the tie backs, hiding the kitchen and mess from view.
Sage-green portierres, looking from kitchen to dining room (Maisons de Campagne (Jan-Fev 2010)

Looking from dining room into kitchen

This exquisite library is in a home in California, although it could be almost anywhere. There is a timelessness about it, from the resida-green silk sofa to the khaki green of the paneling to the abundance of fine European furniture, it's a room that will never look dated.
Room designed by Jackie Lanham

And, last but not least, a bedroom designed by Suzanne Rheinstein, who expresses my sentiments about the color perfectly!

Bedroom designed by Suzanne Rheinstein (Southern Accents 2007)


Getting ready for Fall

Well, the slipcovers are coming off the sofa next week, exposing the original, warm gold color once more. I've taken the antique French white linen tablecloth off the round table and replaced it with a silk stripe in sage-green, cream and coffee (my favorite trio of colors) and it looks richer, more interesting, somehow.

The pots of white orchids on the table have been replaced with a green vase filled with grasses from a field beyond the house, and I've moved the ethnic art back from their summer vacation in my husband's office. I think they're glad to be in the thick of things again.

I know, I know...too early for bringing out fall-inspired design, but the September issue of "House Beautiful" in the mail the other day prompted me to make a head-start. BTW, check out their feature about the contemporary house filled!

A corner of our small living room with black and white prints above an early 19th century Chinese table of rosewood and ebony. The Chinese table/bench holds two of my Vicente Wolfe books, which I always enjoy looking through time and time again. Mask on the stand is Mossi from Africa, the seated figure is Oceanic from the Sepik River region (both purchased from Tribal Links several years ago, and the 18th century bronze bowl is Chinese. 

The wingback armchair is from Ethan Allen covered in a French linen, the lamp was purchased years ago from Crate and Barrel, the white bowls are Song from China, and the wood figure is Songye from Africa. The pillow was made from yardage I had been hoarding from a previous house.

People who know I deal mostly in French and English furnishings are always surprised to see so much Chinese furniture, ethnic items and contemporary art in my home. But, that's one of the joys (and, occasionally perils!) of being in the trade: one has the opportunity to see so many beautiful things from around the world. How can one choose between a beautiful 19th century French walnut table from Provence and an early 19th century Chinese rosewood table from China? Well...if  possible, have both!

19th century French walnut side table from Provence, English shield-back chair painted green with gilded highlights, vintage pier mirror, and 19th century English country child's chair.

Five years ago, my husband retired, and we downsized to a cottage which forced us to be very selective about what we chose to part with and what we chose to bring with us. I've recommended to friends who complain about clutter that they pretend they're about to retire. It really forces one to think about things that have come into our homes and just kind of overstayed their welcome - and things that we brought in because we loved them. Being an antiques dealer, it's always hard to leave something beautiful behind. But, I remind myself that somewhere there's someone else who will love it enough to buy it and keep it forever.

I would love to hear some of your stories. What do you have that, if possible, you would take with you if you were stranded on a Pacific island?

And I really need to hold my camera straight! Sorry about the tilted photos. Skipped Picasa's editing features...

Bonnieux, France

While the fabulous garden, La Louve, is a great draw, the little village of Bonnieux has a charm all its own and well worth the visit. In fact, the Russell Crowe film "A Good Year" was filmed in and around the village.

Below, a few pictures of this lovely town high in the Provence-Alpes Cote d'Azur.

12 century Roman/Gothic church at the entrance to the village

Roman columns and arches

Typical 17th century shop fronts and residences.

Private residences. The rich ochre lime wash on the buildings is breathtaking at sunset!
Entrance to a private residence. Note the little black cat doorbell!

Street of antique shops

Private residences
I always wondered how the interiors were decorated. Old fashion Provencal fabrics, perhaps, with cherry wood side tables, armoires filled with regional quilts, brass candlesticks on tables beside an old carved walnut bed piled high with white linen shams and a down-filled comforter. Or... was the interior filled with clean-lined, ultra modern furniture from Paris? If only the shutters had been opened just a tiny bit. Hmmm...wonder if there's a law against curious, peeking Americans???

Boutique hotel in the heart of Bonnieux. Expedia has a list of more than a dozen hotels in and around Bonnieux

Leaving Bonnieux and on to Menerbes and Lacoste
Hmm...wonder if the owners would sell?

In closing - the very, very discreet entrance to the gardens of La Louve. If possible, plan your visit to Provence  when the garden is open to the public. You won't regret it.  Check online via the French Ministry of Culture or go directly to the La Louve website.


Fall anyone?

Am I the only one ready for Fall to arrive? The flower beds are scraggly, the white slipcovers are looking drab and wrinkled, and after so much paleness, my psyche badly needs some color. So...

Get ready... removing the white slipcovers from the chairs.... opening a nice bottle of Macon-Villages 2008
..and having a few friends over for supper!
Okay, there are still a few summery days before us, but after the hottest season on record, I'm seriously thinking of....pumpkins and gourds, rusty-orange mums, pale dried hydrangeas, candlelight everywhere in the house, mellow, earthy Burgundy instead of sangria....and is it too much to ask for a really nice roast leg of lamb with rosemary!


La Louve: Garden of the She-Wolf

Since so many people enjoyed the earlier pictures I posted of La Louve, I have decided to show more of this remarkable private garden. Created in 1986 by Nicole de Vesian, a textile designer with the fashion house of Hermes, La Louve was declared one of the "Notable Gardens of France" by the French ministry.

Open to the public twice a year by appointment only, I was privileged to be part of a small group given a personal tour by the present owner, American Judith Pillsbury. Ms. Pillsbury has lovingly added to and maintained the garden since Ms. Vesian sold it. At the ripe age of 84, the latter went on to create another, smaller garden in the village.

Located in the small village of Bonnieux, which is in the Vaucluse region in Southern France, the garden is a series of outdoor 'rooms' many of which are in the Asian style. Enjoy the tour while being aware this incredible garden is clinging to a steep mountainside hundreds of feet above the valley!

Cypress clipped into topiaries. The smaller bushes are clipped rosemary and santolina

Santolina and rosemary
Small grotto built into the mountainside
Path leading from lower gardens to upper terrace

Clipped boxwood

Small pool fed by a mountain stream

Mixed bed utilizing native plants

Thousands of stones from the surrounding mountains were brought to the garden to create terraces, recesses and buttresses


Garden Elements With Style

As Martha Baker states in her book "Garden Ornaments" (Clarkson Potter 1999), the garden is an outdoor room that is an extension of our homes, and, therefore, a personal expression of ourselves. Herewith, some gardens that have that personal expression.

East Hampton garden of interior designer Charlotte Moss

This is a simple trellis that could be built by almost anyone handy with hammer and nails. Many such trellises come ready made, found at local garden centers.  The dark green color is used almost universally, since it doesn't compete with the plantings.

Antique garden urn surrounded by a tangle of vines

Classical elements used sparingly in a garden can have enormous impact. Cement urns and supports (new or antique) can be found at antiques shops and shows around the country.

Shown is an antique cast-iron bird bath, but a cement one from the local garden center would work just as well. Create a circle of grass or moss, stack some bricks in the center to elevate the birdbath, add soil and moss or small climbing vines, and you have created a wonderful focal point in your garden or courtyard. This is an easy weekend project and on my list. And the birds would love it, too!

While we all can't live in a penthouse in New York, this setting of lacy white wrought-iron furniture can be created in an ordinary home garden. Fortunately, this Edwardian-era garden furniture has never gone out of style and pieces like these can be found at antiques shops and shows around the country.  Notice that the chairs and tables are not matched, but since they are of the same era, everything goes together.  The string of bare bulbs lighting the scene shows that the owner isn't taking things too seriously!


The Incomparable Hubert de Givenchy

Born an aristocrat (he holds the French title of Count) in Beauvais, France in 1927, Givenchy came from a creative family. His maternal grandmother was married to Jules Badin, a director of the Gobelins and Beauvais tapestry factories. After apprenticing with Jacques Fath, Dior and Balenciaga, Givenchy opened his own fashion house in Paris when he was only twenty-five years old. He quickly rose to fame when he met an equally young Audrey Hepburn and designed her wardrobe for "Sabrina". Both went on to become great in their respective careers.

And, yes ...apparently Givenchy loves green!

Watercolor of the Green Salon in Paris

In 1975, Givenchy acquired Le Jonchet near Tours. Working with American gardener Bunny Mellon, he created extensive gardens and landscapes. Over the years, while working with the World Monuments Fund, he slowly brought the manor back to its original glory. The small pavilion below was created from plans found at Mount Vernon.

Small pavilion at Le Jonchet

Interior of the Orangery at Le Jonchet

Exterior of the Orangery

One of Le Jonchet's towers seen from the parterre beside the Orangery

Givenchy also had a second home outside Paris in the South of France overlooking the Mediterranean,  A onetime bastide (or fortified farmhouse), it rests on the foundations of a redoubt designed by Vauban, Louis XIV's great military architect. The house, Clos Fiorentina, originally belonged to Roderick Cameron, a great decorator and gardener of his time, who put extensive work into creating a series of three terraced gardens.

Clos Fiorentina

The Clos gardens overlooking the Beaulieu-sur-Mer-Bay

An allee of lemon trees on one of the terraced gardens, under-planted with alum lilies. Notice the lime-washed trunks of the trees.
Note: All pictures were taken from Givenchy's book, "The Givenchy Style" published by The Vendome Press.
Second watercolor of the Green Salon

Watercolor of the Green Salon in Paris