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James Basson’s delicate French revival

James Basson’s delicate French revival


Tree-lined allées, as often seen in traditional country houses in France, feature in the design


The garden at Les Canebiers in France won its designer a host of prizes


Completed in June 2015, this large project in the South of France, with a budget of £2.9m, won James Basson MSGD three trophies at the SGD Awards 2015.

The brief for this arid and sloping site of 19,000m2 was to have a ‘very definite garden’ leading from the house to the stables and horse arena beyond. This formal part of the site is now a series of terraces. The gardens of the traditional bastides (country houses) of the area are reflected in formal, tree-lined allées and traditional stone walls.


The enlarged pool area is one of the spaces for entertaining


There are also several spaces for entertaining, an enlarged pool area, a new driveway, decorative planting at the front of the property and a secluded garden at the back, complete with Jacuzzi. A woodland walk and children’s play area are also included. Alongside the formal part of the garden are a series of six paddocks, a newly planted orchard and an olive grove.

James devised a repeated and complex planting scheme, which is loose and informal, and offers year-round interest. There were also 160 large trees. For him, the best part of the project was “to see the revival of the landscape, adding a delicate aspect to a piece of land that had been brutalised”.


The planting scheme is loose and informal, but complex, and repeated throughout


The judges of the SGD Awards were so impressed they honoured the project with the International Award sponsored by Landform Consultants, the Planting Design Award sponsored by Barcham Trees and the Grand Award, sponsored by Harrod Horticultural. “This design shows great affinity with the space, on a particularly difficult site,” they commented. “Very sophisticated and well executed. Wonderful swathes of linear planting offer great rhythm and flow. A clear winner.”  


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