Sadly Mr. Ryan Gainey passed away on July 29, 2016.
He will be honored at the Atlanta History Center on 8/31/2016 at 6:30 pm.
Click Here for More Details.

 

 


La Petite Fontanille - France

 


I often say of my client that it is telling that she didn't buy "Le Grand Fontanille", but instead she bought "Le Petit Fontanille".

This project was an opportunity to work in a completely new milieu. I was asked by a new client if I could come to France. She had seen my work in a number of places, and liked it very much, and so, I went.

Located in the South of France, this garden is in a completely different context than our American landscape. It is agrarian, but not agrarian in a way I knew. I had to learn about plant material, what is native, what would happen to plant materials I might introduce. Would it grow? My predecessor on the property had been Peter Coats, and I took many cues from his work. I enriched the garden by adding garden architecture, stone work, and refining and creating new garden settings.

This fountain is a found architectural piece from a nearby village and its inclusion in the features of the garden led to the name of the property, "Le Petit Fontanille" meaning "little fountain", and gave its name to the vineyard and wines produced there as well.

The dark green of Italian cypress and the gray green of the olives in this painting shows a landscape in a form often referred to as chiaroscuro. My client commissioned the painting to preserve our garden design in another, more permanent, form.

One of our first projects was to redesign the stonework and the piers for these stairs which lead away from the motor court. As is typical in a lot of my work, I spend a lot of time correcting other people's mistakes. We commissioned the ironwork grape leaves which hold the railings in place.

This terraced pattern garden provides a respite for the eye and the spirit as you ascend the steps from the motor court. I added olive trees to this part of the garden and invited my long-time friend Rosemary Verey to come over and work with me as I thought it would be fun to collaborate with her and her genius. Her first idea was to take the olive trees and turn them into clipped standards.

On axis between trees we put in columns, a pergola, a place to sit, and it became the axial point as a fountain. At the far end, nestled into the landscape, is a "term", from the Greek god "Terminus", the god of boundaries. It marks where the garden stops in cultivation and goes into the wild.

At the top of a rise, one comes to a pool, designed in indigenous stone and colored to reflect the Provencal sky. Again, it is a pool turned into a gardenesque feature, with an 18th century pavilion we found (actually it was an old laundry room) and brought in to become the pool pavilion. It serves also as a folly, and is placed to reflect in the water. In the foreground of the pool pavilion, a wildflower meadow slopes away and overlooks two patterned gardens, one a cutting garden and one a potager.

Enclosed by indigenous stone walls and with a fence designed after an 18th century painting owned by the client, the gardens provide necessary food and adornment for the house. The arrangement of flowers in the cutting garden was laid out by Ms. Verey.

As a designer, all my gardens are challenges to me, but this was the first time I'd worked abroad, and it was a very quickly learned lesson to go and adapt my ideas to a completely different region of the world, taking my understanding of the use of plant materials and adapting it to create a garden setting.