This garden is essentially a borrowed landscape, a little piece of Haute Provence, the original landscape that inspired the sponsor to create the L’Occitane brand over 30 years ago. James Towillis has attempted to bottle this essence to make a garden that will awaken the senses with its bright colours, evocative scents and the gnarled structural forms of aged olive trees.
James uses lines of planting and a linear irrigation canal to create a perspective; drawing the eye of the visitor into the garden towards the stone built refuge at the back of the garden. An old copper still, used to extract the plant essences, gives a sense of the purpose to the planting. Other found objects or ‘Objéts trouvée’ are scattered around the dwelling - little pieces of authentic recycling, old tools and pots suggest that the gardener is still working here.
Terraced and walled plots enclose a palette of scented plants, verbena, thyme, sage and rosemary, flanked by trees of Prunus dulcis, the sweet almond. Lines of hummocky Lavendula angustifolia, clumps of deep pink peony flowers and Helichrysum italicum ‘Imortelle’, produce a scented haze leading to the olives trees growing in front of a backdrop of limestone cliffs.
Chelsea Flower Show 2010