Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Glorious Gardens of Guy Hervais

Famed French photographer Guy Hervais has traveled the world capturing images of the most beautiful private gardens.

Let’s unlock the garden gate and enter the splendor of these gardens.

Come with me for an exclusive visit and a chat with Guy, and meet this lovely and very private soul who is a world-renowned expert on the aesthetics and ephemeral beauty of gardens.

I have a wonderful and totally exclusive story and photos for you today!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve introduced the great photographer, Guy Hervais, to my dear and faithful readers.

We’ve seen the stupendously beautiful photographs he took of the new Hyderabad, India, hotel, Falaknuma Palace (one of the great new palace hotels). And we recently saw an edited portfolio of his spectacular interiors photographs, including private images he took recently in India for the legendary Maharajah of Jodhpur, a dear friend. In case you missed these, check and view recent posts on Falaknuma Palace here, and Guy’s Greatest Photos, here.

Now we are encountering the most passionate aspect of Guy’s work—his focus on gardens of the world, as well as his private garden design.

These are some of the most striking, original, and perfect garden images you will ever see.

They are so vivid you can smell the lavender and lemons, feel the fresh air brushing your cheek, and hear birds chirping in the trees. You will sense the first dawn light, and the tender last rays of sunset.

The splendor of these gardens and their particular character and style are captured by an obsessed photographer, He is also knowledgeable about horticulture and garden design.

He will get up in the middle of the night to capture the first light flickering over a garden.  Hervais will follow a garden’s progress over years. He understands gardens, loves them, and lets his intelligence and imagination loose on the beauty and glory of these landscapes.

I love gardens that are unique. Unique means exceptional. Exceptional for gardens always means personal.
A garden could be the most simple or the most sophisticated, small or huge, but it should be a personal, private vision.
What is important is its ‘anima‘, its soul, its character, its grandeur of vision, its essence.
It might come from its creator, a hired gardener, the landscape designer, or the owner
When all are united, to bring together design, horticulture, style, originality, beauty, it’s a masterpiece.
—photographer Guy Hervais

I recently had a cozy chat with Guy. He’s enthusiastic, passionate, witty, lovely, and a genius photographer.

DDS: Guy, how did you get started photographing gardens?
GH: I have had the chance to visit many unique, world renowned, completely hidden or unknown gardens, to produce stories for magazines such as French Vogue, House & Garden international editions and travel publications.

With time, it became so natural to me, that I decided to pay homage to these discoveries, creating Garden-Secret, my studio dedicated to bespoke books for owners to offer to their friends.

Starting with photography, I manage the art direction from the layout to the end of the printing. My goal is to create the most beautiful books, as unique as their owners.

DDS: Tell us about your own garden in Provence.
AT Le Pavillon de Galon, my residence and studio, we have created several gardens, all inspired by the incredible surrounding landscape.

The main garden, ‘Le Jardin à la Française’, was originally an abandoned prairie and now fronts the house.

Within its closed walls, 80m by 40m, we decided to design an historical modern garden with a blue and green color palette and balanced planting using very sophisticated shapes and natural essences from the wild mountain behind us.

We love to sit on our terrace in the afternoon and admire it and wonder at our divinities, a series of trees that are over 300 years old.

I have planted a young orchard (we have now about 80 different fruit varietals). There is a spiral planted with olive trees.

We created an avenue of alternating pines and brooms, called ‘Les Champs Elysées’.

This is Provence, so naturally we have a fig orchard and our wine, a Côte du Luberon called Hocus Pocus (produced on a tiny scale with only 1000 bottles per year).

DDS: Tell us about the gardens of the eco architect Geoffrey Bawa, in Sri Lanka.
GH: For years now, I have traveled regularly to India and Sri Lanka to get inspiration related to nature and spirituality.

When there, I meet extraordinary artists, architects and very original characters. Among them, I’m passionate about the works of Sir Geoffrey Bawa, one of my very dearest masters. He always finds the perfect relationship between the vegetal and architecture world (where the outside is inside and the inside is outside).

Perfection. True enlightenment.

DDS: I adore the sculptural garden in Menerbes. It was created by an American woman, very private and is a vision of simply green grass, sculpted box, lavender, and limestone. It is so peaceful.
I adore the sculptural gardens created by an inspired American lady, built on the cliffs and rocks of the beautiful Ménerbes village, once the artists Picasso’s, Dora Maar's, and Nicolas de Stael’s prefered places on earth.

Here you feel how style is mastered.

A strong, beautiful and humble dedication to Beauty and Life.

“I spend a lot of time cultivating my own garden. I used to say that my only ‘dictator’ is my garden.”—Guy Hervais

DDS: You travel the world, Paris, Jodhpur, Rome, Milan, London.
GH: My garden is my absolute priority. Nothing can really wait. I have a vision and I’m obsessed.

Here I work with some help, shaping, pruning, digging. I’m very much aware ‘gardening’ doesn’t simply mean a spade, a rake, a mower.

It is soul and it gives back at every moment: new energy, new creation, new thought, strength, inspiration.

It’s important for me and my work.

It gives new vision and insight.

DDS: You have a focused and very elegant plant palette.
GH: I adore all natural plants (not hybridized or artificial). All colors, all shapes (except spiky or sharply formed plants). Everything depends on where the garden is located, if it’s open or closed to the landscape, in which region, the soil, its orientation.

All these details are extremely important; they seem endlessly complicated but at the same time they are so simple and are breathtaking in their simplicity.

When creating some garden designs for my clients and friends, I keep reassuring them to give a strong structure to my creation. The ‘bones’, the form and the structure are like the architecture of the garden.

All the rest follows naturally and gets more impressive over time as it grows. Time is the natural key for seeing a garden grow in harmony.

I have for many years particularly admired a very ‘baroque’ tree, named ‘Sophora Japonica’, and an old variety of almond trees named ‘Princess’, which I have just planted. I am enjoying watching them grow.

DDS: Current work?
GH: For one year, I’ve been working for an extraordinary American lady, photographing her gardens in every season, near St Remy de Provence. We are creating a book.

At the moment, I’m working on layouts and then the printing will start, undertaken by excellent craftsmen.

Another book, an art object in a large format, I’m working on, in several volumes. It is about a site from prehistory to the present owners, following the great moments, which have all happened there.

DDS: Projects?
GH: Photography for a 1,000 year-old chateau, inside and outside for its new owners (Provence). Consulting for two palazzo gardens (Venice). Consulting for the beaches on the Lido island (Venice). Photography and work on Moghul gardens (India and Iran).

DDS: Sources of inspiration for your gardens?
GH: Some masters in no particular order: Louise de Vilmorin, Rabindranath Tagore, Goethe, Cézanne, Giuseppe Penone, Le Nôtre, J.H.Fabre, Andy Goldsworthy, Russell Page, Derek Jarman, William Blake, Pierre Lieuthaghi, Marie-Laure de Noailles, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Satyajit Ray, Jean Renoir.

DDS: Favorite garden memory?
GH: Last year, some Indian classical musicians played at a private concert for the Maharajah of Jodhpur.

They later came to Provence to perform traditional morning and evening ragas, a kind of meditation/holy performance, during ‘garden open’ days. This Indian music, so beautifully and soulfully performed was pure magic. It was a sublime experience, mixed with the visions of plants, shade of the trees, the sunlight flickering, the warm air, and the whispering sound of the water running in the ancient pools.

DDS: Tell us about Garden-Secret:
GH: With Garden-Secret my private publishing company, I work with a team, all experts on gardens.

To create private books on commission. For example, several of the gardens shown here in this article, have been published privately in books, by their owners. It is a way of capturing, for all time, the ephemeral beauty of the gardens.  www.garden-secret.com


All images are by French photographer, Guy Hervais, used with express permission.

Guy Hervais and his wife, Bibi Gex run the glorious Le Pavillon de Galon, a lovely country inn in the dramatic Luberon region of Provence. Visit the gardens and stay for a weekend, a week, a month. Check on www.pavillondegalon.com and learn more about the region, exploring the region, and the local cuisine.


Tara Dillard said...

Of the ages. This man & his work are pure grace.

Thank you for this post.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Susan said...

What a magnificent post. Thank you so much!

Glamour Drops said...

This is one hell of a post! I have lightly skimmed it, drooled over the images, and very much look forward to devouring it slowly tonight after work while the clock can tick as slowly as it likes. How good are the contrasts of green textures?

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Tara, Susan and Virginia-

I am so happy to hear from you...garden lovers all.

Yes...absolutely, Virginia!You got it...these are all 'green' gardens that use texture and tones of green, and sculpture, and shape and form...to create breathtaking gardens.
They are not 'flower gardens' that rely for effect on colored 'riot of flowers'.
the most sophisticated gardens rely first on form and architecture and 'sculpture'...and tones and spikes and spires and round and smooth and changes of season.
note that there is hardly a flower here...and they are breathtaking. Guy--is a superb garden photographer.
I was one of the founding editors of GARDEN DESIGN magazine (when it was great)...and have always written about and studied gardens...will write about this more...
stay in touch and I am so delighted to hear from you.

quintessence said...

I am not a gardener or an educated horticulturalist but I am a lover of beauty and an ex art director and this was an excursion into the sublime. What an amazing life - to be so talented, surrounded by such splendor with the ability and encouragement to document it!

Unknown said...

Definitely what dreams are made of.Wonderful photography, heavenly places and a great post. LOVE your blog! Merci

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Quintessence--and Bonjour Jeanne-Aelia-

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments.

It is so pleasing to me that my readers have been so excited about the photographs of Guy Hervais--and the gardens he photographs.

His photographs and his approach and style are rare in the world of garden photography. He understands light and composition--and he understands horticulture and light and seasons and time of day.
I am so happy to present his work exclusively on THE STYLE SALONISTE...and notice how he speaks of soul and anima and spirituality, regarding gardens.
cheers and thank you, DIANE

columnist said...

These photos make me salivate. The gardens are all exquisite, almost natural in their appearance, belying the enormous amount of work that has gone into them.

Slim Paley said...

Dear Diane
Thank you so much for sharing all these stunning images by Guy Hervais. He is such a fabulous photographer! All the gardens look completely divine through his eye, and I LOVE LOVE all the photos from India. They make me want to return so badly!
But it's a Good Bad, so thanks again :)

Happy New Year to you,

Penelope Bianchi said...

a completely magnificent post! My Lord!!

what a treasure! I will save and treasure forever!

His philosophy is mine!

Love love love! Maybe we can go stay there!

You are the best!

(Lots of rain here.....pond is totally full to the brim....ducks are ecstatci! greet me with happy noises when I feed them.......(wild mallards))

Greet Lefèvre said...

This is all gorgeous!! There are no words for Guy's work! Stunning, amazing, fabulous,...
I visited all the links and enjoyed!
Thank you for this exceptional post!

Joyce MacFarlane said...

It was lovely to wake up to snow and then find your post with these stunning photos. Imagine having a studio in Provence -- so many beautiful distractions. Guy is very talented.

BRASWELL said...

Speaking as a producer+interior designer+gardner the work of Guy Hervais is divine. Thanks for a wonderful article. xx peggybraswelldesign.com

France Geek said...

What a wonderful post to find! I'm very fortunate to know Guy and his wife and have visited their garden a few times, which is my version of paradise. I will bookmark your post and come back to it.

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness....what an incredible visual treat. His photos capture the essence of the experience in those gardens. Thank you so much for sharing this interview!

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Fantastic interview and stunning images. Makes me long for spring.

A Super Dilettante said...

It's incredibly inspirational to see these gardens. You might be interested to know about a book called The Englishman's Garden edited by Alvilde Lees-Milne and Rosemary Verey. It's amazing to think (in terms of gender) why most famous gardeners or chefs are men.


WOW!breathtaking views... Exquisitely beautiful gardens looks natural in their appearance, !!!whew..So amazing Photographs,the quality Shots are outstanding! Thanks For sharing..what a great finds.

honeybeeandme said...



M said...

Diane, this was one of my very favorite posts of yours -- much appreciated!
All the best,

Colette said...

what a balm for a dreary winters day...im sitting by the fire writing about green myself. Thank you for this! Colette

Norine said...

stunningly beautiful. What a great idea bespoke photography for gardens!

Love Your Homes said...

Hi Diane,
I so love to care for my garden, such an enjoying treat after the long and cold winters we have over here.

Hervais really has a divine way of capturing the gardens.

Have you yet walked the majestic park of Haga while in Stockholm? There is another one close with enchanting bosquets from late 1600 at the chateua Ulriksdal.
They are both close to where I live and are great areas to spend time.....the Haga to will now probably be a little more limited to public. Sweden's crown princess, just married recently moved into the newly restored Haga Castle ( I got you the new book about it).
Talk to you later,

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Wow! I'm overwhelmed by the joy and delight and wonder in your responses! Thank you from my heart to yours.

I love Guy's photography and I'm so happy you reveled in the beauty.

Dear Friends--you made my day!

I'm especially delighted to hear from all the landscape designers and gardeners around the world--and to receive insight and ideas from dear friends far and near. Happy days, DIANE

Unknown said...

Very, very beautiful

Square With Flair said...

This is a terrific post, and I've been happy to revisit it a few times. The images, scenes, and photo compositions are incredibly beautiful. It is posts like this that made me give up buying magazines like AD, HB, and Veranda.

I particularly love the photo of the terrace with plants, furniture, containers and parasol in varying shades of green...I believe this will influence future choices on my own terrace.

Whenever I see work I greatly admire, I immediately want to read or conduct an interview with the talented creator...and you've done just that. What a pleasure to read and view. Merci mille fois Diane.

Sunita Mohan said...

Perfection! I'm absolutely swept away by the beauty in each of these photos and had the toughest time commenting here. Every time I thought of clicking on the "post a comment" link, I found myself scrolling back to take one more look at those deliciously soulful photos.
Very inspiring... I garden too but nothing like this! I'm running out to my garden now to take a closer look. And to dream.

Teacup Moments said...

goodness this post has me in a swoon. the photos are masterful and the gardens are breathtaking! thank you oh so much for sharing!

clippingimages said...

splendid location and excellent photography. thanks for sharing.

Beverley Jackson said...

Love your blog, love your books (especially Santa Barbara - my home town). Sent your blog on new Taj Hotel in Hyderabad to Princess Esra Jah who is at her ranch here for annual visit and she enjoyed seeing. Great photos and I loved seeing as I haven't been there yet. One thing about the Rambaugh Palace blog, delightful as it is. You speak of the Maharani several times and I know you mean my late friend Ayesha,the Maharani who sadly passed away last year, but I think most of your readers will think you are speaking of the present Maharaja "Bubbles" wife Padmini who is the current Maharani of Jaipur -- who incidentally was in Santa Barbara briefly during high goal polo last summer.

Beverley Jackson

Atelier de Campagne said...

I know this is an old post and yet I am just learning more about you and your work. I am a garden lover and only dread that my life has been so busy I haven't nourish that passion for a while. I will soon return to my garden and be able to tend to it. Lovely post!