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Education and Beauty: Jardin Philophrosyne

Pro Landscaper speaks with garden designer Peter Donegan regarding his design of 13th century garden, Jardin Philophrosyne.

Peter Donegan Garden Design was commissioned by The Historial de la Grande Guerre to design 2 gardens for the 13th century garden. The new garden in the central courtyard was designed in celebration of the 30th anniversary of The Historial de la Grande Guerre, Europe’s largest war museum emblem in the Somme region of Northern France. The first, a peace garden, Jardin Eutychia (after the Greek Goddess of Happiness) is based in the Chateau’s dried up moat.

Jardin Philophrosyne design

With education at the forefront of Peter’s mind, the garden has been designed with an herbarium of world war medicinal plants, the accuracy of which was decided by a team of researchers as well as staff at the museum itself. The garden is based in the town’s castle courtyard which presented its own challenges. One of which, according to Peter, was “how do you get everything in this long tunnel of a defence castle, which you’re not supposed to get into, without making it look like everything was designed to fit through there?” Despite this challenge, Peter and his team managed to fit an array of accurate and perfumed plants within the castle’s garden.

Jardin Philophrosyne

Taking influence from both history and the local area, the plants within the garden were selected with their appeal and setting in mind. When viewed from the top of the castle, one can see people choosing which route to take, exploring the gardens, taking in the design, and absorbing the atmosphere. Peter says: “I think one of the biggest challenges was to make people want to stay longer without telling them that they should take a tour this way.” The design itself enables the visitors to choose their own path, though, and get lost in the moment.

The garden has an array of versatility, even when “the plants aren’t necessarily in flower there’s an emotion. There’s a different memory evoked depending on when people choose to visit”. With each visit, the ultimate goal was to remind the public that “no good comes from war”, be that from the perfumed medicinal plants, or the emotions one may feel from the garden not in bloom.

Peter and his team will not slow down after this garden and have a fantastic project coming up at a school. The aim for this project is a garden for “the children to daydream”, as Peter continues to create landscapes which put people at the forefront of the design.

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