“Fragmentary-era” Garden in Chaumont, 2008: les Chaumonphytes
by Vincent Bouvier

Introduction

by Jon Bryan Burley, ASLA

The gardens of Chaumont, France overlook the Loire River Valley and are adjacent to a French chateau. In this setting, a competition is held each year to feature a collection of temporary gardens, with a theme for the gardens and entrants. Several of the designs are selected and built in the spring and then enjoyed in the summer and fall.

In 2008, the theme for the competition was the “Evolution of Plants.” Vincent Bouvier (an instructor at Agrocampus-Ouest, centre d’Angers Institut National d’Horticulture et de Paysage (INHP)) led a team of professionals in the competition. The team’s entry, described below by Vincent Bouvier, was chosen to be featured in the garden.

Objective 

The theme, “Evolution of Plants” appeared as central in this project, giving the garden a pedagogic dimension. To express the idea of vegetation evolution, we focused upon two particular terms: separation and reorganization. We thought these terms expressed the temporal and spatial scales of plants.
 
Separation is represented by the shape of a delta and the idea of diffusion. Evolution is a part of this diffusion. In this delta, we present the history of plants, their characteristics, groups, and families (the Chaumonphytes).

Bouvier 1
Plan for the design. The numbers represent the four groupings for the different phases in vegetation evolution.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved. 

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Plan view featuring the location of vertical walls and delta-shape.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved.
 

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Image of the vertical wall.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved.

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Image of the wall composition and user experience.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved.
 

Process 

The team was composed of Vincent Bouvier, Guillaume Sevin (a landscape architect), Rémi Gardet (who heads the pedagogic and experimental department at INHP), and 18 students.  Design work started on the garden in November 2007 and the garden was installed in 2008.

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The site before development.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved.

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Site preparation.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved. 

We alternated between working in small groups and working as a large team in which we generated the pivotal ideas of the project.

Our design included placing plants on a wall.

Bouvier 7
Vincent Bouvier (in red shirt) and colleague drilling holes in the rocks. Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved. 

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Preparation of wall inner structure.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved. 

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Placement of rocks to form the wall structure.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved. 

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Installation of the irrigation system.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved. 

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Guillaume Sevin placing vegetation on the walls.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved. 

Claude Figureau (a botanist and manager of the botanical garden of Nantes/Green Spaces of Nantes) suggested the list of plants for the wall. For the evolutionary adaptations of the different plants species, Sébastien Guillet (who is in charge of the botanic collection at INHP) provided advice on the availability of plants. Sébastien Hadet of the Sirev focused on the irrigation of the vegetation. The Guillaume Sevin agency finalized the presentation and execution.

The Garden Plan (Design) 

We modeled the alleys in the design (walkways) to follow the contour of the delta. We used the ideas of the stream which flows across it and tree branches to evoke the notion of “sharing. The garden embodies the double meaning of the word “sharing” (reunion and division) and shows the evolution of plant species that result from the dislocation of the line sharing (time/space) of the vegetation genus, and plant diffusion (time/space) on the continents.

Water is a key element of this phenomenon as an element of union and of separation. The volcanic origin of the stones used for building the walls symbolizes the tectonic dynamic prevailing in the drift of continents. There are two types of fragmentation represented in the garden: one made by the walls and the other by the flow of the delta. The design corresponds to two branches of the delta winding between two rows of planted walls. The irregular verticality of those walls is expressed by the scorias (pouzzolane) piled upon one another. A metallic structure (hollow tubes) and integrated watering system assure the structural verticality and the stability of the piece of work and provides for watering of the upper part. The morphology and irregularity of the rocks permits the installation of the vegetation by extracting a sample (carottage) according to different expositions, while creating visual windows between the stones.

Water is also a symbol of union. It is designed as a visual outlook of the Loire River. By analogy to the spontaneous plants, the vegetation designed on all the walls represent all kinds of plants (different families), expressing the natural colonization of the plants.

This garden is designed with four parts that represent the four different levels of plant evolution on the surface of the earth now:

- First part: The mineral and the first plants (seaweed, moss)
-Second part: The pteridophytes (fern and horsetail, scouring rush)

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View of the fern areaof the garden.
Image courtesy Vincent Bouvier and Guillaume Sevin, copyrights 2008 and 2009.  All rights reserved.  
 

- Third part: the gymnosperms (conifers)
- Fourth part: angiosperms (flowering plants)

The installation of this Chaumonphyte garden took three weeks and was completed in April 2008.

Vincent Bouvier is a teaching-researcher at Agrocampus-Ouest, centre d’Angers Institut National d’Horticulture et de Paysage and can be reached at: Vincent.Bouvier@agrocampus-ouest.fr 

Other participants included: Sébastien Guillet, Henri Carpentier, Sylvain Couraud, Lilian Marchand, Rémi Gardet, Guillaume Sevin and his associates (Eric Derouet, Sébastien Bazzile), Green Spaces of the City of Angers (Henri Séjourné, Jean-Paul Durgevin, Ahmid Lourdi) and of the INHP supervised by Vincent Bouvier and Bernard Roland. The students include: Mathieu Caramello , Claire Bacconier, David Blanchard, Marion Bréheret, Laure Braghini, Marie Aude Duponcheel, Rose-Hélène Duret, Marion Festal, Loïc Gaulard, Laure Georgon, Joris Notarnicola, Viviane Pflieger, Clémence Savary, Céline Yamato, Laure Aubert,Karine Brana,  Stéphanie Marsura, and Marion Paluzzano.

 
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Letter from the Chair
Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway
Normative Theory: A Look at “The Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe”
Longmen Grottoes of China (Dragon Gate)
“Fragmentary-era” Garden in Chaumont, 2008
International Conferences -- Past and Upcoming
 

 

Erik Mustonen, ASLA, Chair
(780) 423-4990
esmustonen@yahoo.com