Thursday, March 29, 2018

Parc André Citroën, partie un

Parc André Citroën was a recommendation from my friend Greg at Xera plants. He knows my style and he lived in France for awhile, I took his advice and I am so happy I did!

A little backstory: In 1915, Citroën built its (automobile) factory on the banks of the Seine; where it operated until the 1970s. At that time, 24 hectares (59 acres) were vacated and subsequently addressed in Paris' urban plan, ultimately giving rise to the Parc André Citroën. The park was designed at beginning of the 1990s by the French landscape designers Gilles Clément and Alain Provost, and the architects Patrick Berger, Jean-François Jodry and Jean-Paul Viguier.

The park is built around a central, rectangular lawn of roughly 273 by 85 meters in size. It is embellished with two greenhouse pavilions (hosting exotic plants and Mediterranean vegetation) at the Eastern, urban end, which are separated by a paved area featuring dancing fountains. The South edge of the lawn is bounded by a monumental canal — the "Jardin des Métamorphoses" — composed of an elevated reflecting pool that reaches through granite guard houses, lined by a suspended walkway. On the North side are two sets of small gardens: the six "Serial Gardens", each with a distinct landscape and architectural design, and a "Garden in Movement" that presents wild grasses selected to respond at different rates to wind velocity. A 630-meter diagonal path cuts through the park. (source)

This austere row of...somethings...(tree mausoleums, but with living trees?) is what greeted us.

I really felt like we were being invited to climb up those steps...

Yet that really was not feasible.

Just off the main pathway...

Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Rainbow'

Lush bamboo in the distance...

One of the Hamamelis, which oddly had me yearning for home to see if my plant was blooming.

Finally we happened upon the bamboo groves, they were quite remarkable.

This first sighting didn't really drive home just what a good job the barrier was doing.

But this one did.

As did this...

Another example of incongruous wooden elements. I almost cropped out the lattice but left it so that you too could scratch your head.

Once we rejoined the main pathway (which began with the tree mausoleums above) the Cycleman were everywhere.

This felt like home!

Then we walked out into an open space with this on our right (that's the Seine, overflowing its banks)...

And this to our left. I think it was at this very moment where something in my head clicked and I realized this was indeed going to be a very interesting garden, even if it was a grey January day. Don't those pavilions ("guard houses" in the lingo of the Wiki intro) remind you of the tree mausoleums at the beginning? Oh ya...

Walking on we came to this. No doubt there would normally be copious amounts of water cascading down that slope, rather than just the thin scrim of rainwater we saw.

If I wasn't already thinking that way this sign would have sealed the deal.

The next space had a similar feel but with terraced plantings.

And incredibly pruned boxwood (?).

The lounge chairs were very comfortable, yes I tried one out.

Daffodil foliage but no blooms yet showing, who cares though with great variegated foliage like that...

Love those Mahonia, and look at their thick legs!

Wonderfully complex.

My friend Julie had never seen Callicarpa americana before (she hails from a cooler climate). It was fun to introduce her to an American native while in France. Well, unless that's not what this is and then the joke's on me.

No doubt this would be remarkable in the late spring, still, in January, it was quite the elegantly presented border.

And the bamboo was quite gorgeous.

Have I mentioned I'm a fan of strong lines in landscape design?

This relatively empty scene (below) has me recalling two recent conversations. One on the phone with my mother, and one via this blog. In chatting with my mom she mentioned how empty of people my Paris photos seemed. Maybe I was just good at photographing without people? No, I didn't consciously do that. Although we were out and about on weekdays, when most people would be at work. And January is hardly high tourist season.

The blog convo was a comment from Evan which may provide a clue why this garden was so empty: "Perhaps the French share the English disposition (from what I've seen watching Gardener's World) that the garden should sleep in winter? So very different from our desire for year-round color and interest"...while not speaking directly to why this space was empty it might help understand the French mindset of why coming here in Janurary is something you wouldn't even think to do. Maybe?

Now we're walking though those tall pavilions you saw beyond the great lawn.

And beyond the pavilions were tall sculpted Magnolias, which both repelled and engaged me.

As well as other tiered landscapes.

Melianthus major

Brachyglottis greyi (Senecio greyi)
I took too many photos of this garden to squeeze them all into one post. We end here today, and start back up tomorrow over near those Magnolias and that tall glass building (one of the two greenhouse pavilions). For now, let's play!...

Weather Diary, March 28: Hi 58, Low 43/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2018 by Loree Bohl for danger garden (dg). Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. What an amazing garden given that I have never even heard of it. Usually I am fairly up on Euro gardens. I loved the geometry of it.

    1. While I loved my visit I can't begin to imagine how wonderful it is "in season"...must be quite the sight.

  2. I can't say I care for the mausoleum-like structures but then I've never cared for Brutalist architecture either. I think you and Evan are probably on point about the disposition of the locals toward their gardens during the winter. Having spent my own life in the world of continuous color provided by Southern California, I find even deciduous plants hard to accept so clearly my environment has shaped my own outlook.

    1. I am so glad you appreciate where you live Kris, I don't think that's the case for all SoCal folks. They should have to move to make room for those of us that would appreciate it too (Loree's world order).

  3. A very modern design... unusual, but once you get into it, it is quite striking in its boldness.

  4. Very interesting and unique garden and I'm going to look up some spring/summer/fall/ photos-I would never have a formal garden ( too slapdash) but I really enjoy visiting them . I think the emptiness kind of adds a bit of WPA project allure.

    1. Your comment had me realizing I hadn't looked up other season photos, I didn't do it prior because I didn't want my eyes disappointed at the January bleakness. Your use of the word formal also has me readjusting my stance on formal...

  5. This garden has plenty winter interest: the hardscape design, the bare branches, interesting pruning, layering and the likes make for a good winter garden, even when it sleeps. Having less people around is a bonus in my book.

    1. Definitely, I can't imagine what a madhouse Paris must be in April.

  6. So much pruning. An interesting garden even in the winter. Looking forward to seeing inside that big glass building.

  7. I think I also recommended Parc Andre-Citroen to you. I was there in June and it was stunning - and full of people. I expect there's a cost-saving aspect to the locked glasshouses, since they can reduce (eliminate?) personnel if no one has to be there. You need to return, madame.....

    1. Yes I believe you did too, and thank you! And gosh, how I would love to return...

  8. I'm taking notes on your Paris posts. If we ever get back, this is going on our list of places to visit. Those tree mausoleums are very curious. Is that sign warning that if you go swimming you will be eaten by ducks?

    1. Ha! I like your interpretation of the sign.

  9. Thanks for these photos. I have always planned to go to Andre Citroen and never made it, but I also read last year that it was suffering from the dreaded "maintenance problems." Your pictures make it look in pretty good shape. I will try again in April.

  10. The photo of rainbow leucothoe really emphasizes how big that plant can get, for me at least. I'll have to re-examine where all I want to put it. I'm curious about the bamboo barrier. It looks more like some kind of super heavy-duty fabric than the plastic barrier used in America. That second Cyclamen photo has some really gorgeous foliage in it. I love the dark-centered leaves.


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