Meeting with Françoise Lacaze, creator of the Jardin de la Grenouillère

Meeting with Françoise Lacaze, creator of the Jardin de la Grenouillère

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For 10 years, Françoise Lacaze has opened the doors of her fabulous garden to us. A Zen garden, located in the town of Essarts-le-Roi, in the Yvelines, where everything is calm and serenity. But the adventure begins long before, and the owner tells us today the story of her little haven of peace. An inspired walk, punctuated with Japanese elements.

Tell us about your background…

At first, I was not at all intended for the garden. I had studied pharmacology and I exercised a profession that fascinated me. In 1988, when we acquired the house, following a professional move, we knew nothing about this land, this field, this swamp that surrounds the property today. Crossed by the Yvette, the 2,500 square meter park was not the ideal area. And we found out some time later when we tried to plant our first shrubs.

But then how was your garden born as we know it?

With a lot of patience and persistence. We had to drain the land, put it out of the water in any season. For a long time, we worked hard. But managing the plants was always very complicated. In 1998, we called upon the landscape designer Sonja Gauron to create a completely different orientation to the garden, where water is no longer an enemy but a friend. We then dig 3 basins, organize evacuations and above all we plant plants that adapt to the situation. The adapted plants, and the more controlled soil, then allow the Rompers to flourish at last!

A rather heavy project, what made you hold on?

It is true that the implementation was a long-term job. Only, a year after the redesign, when there was still everything to do, I lost my husband. The garden was then created only a quarter of its surface. But for that, for us, I wanted to finish the garden, to make it live through it. I then stopped my main activity to immerse myself completely in gardening. I continued to shape it a little more each day. I planted at least 1,500 plants and sometimes modified the drawing when they were not liked in such or such place. Today I have more than 2000 species of plants and the garden, which I considered therapy, has become a passion. Good student, I persevered to make it a place where finally I am never really alone…

But really you are not, your garden is very busy ...

Originally, I did not intend my private garden for the visit. I only open it on certain weekends, from spring to fall. I still welcome groups on weekdays, most often foreigners, or landscapers, for guided tours, and with whom, it is very interesting to exchange. Personal advice is invaluable. Beyond that, it's true that I receive for wedding photo sessions or other ceremony. And the garden is accessible throughout the year to painters, generally installed under the covered corridor, dojo style. Finally, still in the spirit of Asian tradition, I also organize Japanese archery demonstrations, the Kyudo.

It is true that we feel a lot this Japanese atmosphere in your garden, where does it come from?

I am totally in love with Asia. At the time, my grandfather had a passion for Japan and I think he passed it on to me - especially when he took me to the Japanese village of Albert Kahn's garden in Boulogne. Then I drew on my own experiences, I made many trips. But from the start, I wanted to give a real identity to my garden. I played with water, pools, bridges to recreate this typical atmosphere. Later, I gradually added a kiosk, lanterns, sculptures, a tea house ... I pruned the trees in the Japanese style, like my first bonsai trees. The calm, the sound of hypnotic water, are conducive to meditation, and it is this philosophy that I particularly like. Let nature live around you, do not disturb it and take advantage of all that it can give us. So I watch my garden grow, the flora and fauna live daily ... It is ultimately a very pleasant and privileged place. More info on // /


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