French connection

Untitled Document

International garden designer, Pascal Garbe, lives in an idyllic vineyard village in northeast France. Whether he’s at home or away, his life revolves around gardening.  In November 2017, Pascal was in Auckland to convene the judging at the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show.

Pascal has a particular fondness for Maori culture and our native plants. In 2013, he worked with a Ngai Tahu team of artists and designers who created a Maori garden in France. The garden, Te Pūtake showcases New Zealand indigenous flora and traditional Maori art. It remains on loan as a permanent feature under the guardianship of Pascal at Les Jardin Fruitiers de Laquenexy, a historic garden and tourist attraction not far from Pascal’s home in the village of Gorze.

Three hours’ drive east from Paris, Gorze is surrounded by rolling vineyards. Pascal’s home, which he shares with his wife and teenage son, is a traditional vineyard cottage built in the eighteenth century. In contrast, his garden is modern and contemporary. Lush exotic style planting abounds on long narrow stretches of land which Pascal has divided into distinct ‘garden rooms’. There is an intimate patio garden, an edible flower garden, and a French ‘potager' style vegetable garden. “It’s very much a labour of love!” says Pascal. “Plants are life. So I absolutely need plants. No matter what.”

As well as designing gardens, Pascal has been a judge at many international garden shows, including our own Ellerslie International Flower Show. He is also the author of 18 gardening books to date, with three more due for publication. His book ’Tout se mange dans mon jardin’ is driven by his passion for edible gardens. “I like beautiful gardens,” he says, “but what’s even more enjoyable is a beautiful garden that is filled with flavour - edible flowers, leaves or fruits. In France, as in NZ, many chefs work with beautiful and good plants. Their media coverage has had a very positive impact on the gardeners we are.”

Since his trip in 2013, Pascal says he is excited to see what’s changed in this part of the world. “For French people, New Zealand is a dream,” he enthuses. “And it’s not just about the Rugby World Cup! We love Maori culture, and not just the haka! It goes without saying, I’m really excited to come back and take part in this year’s NZ Flower and Garden Show!


What first sparked your interest in gardening? 

My first interest in the garden came when I was four or five years old. With my maternal grandfather, I cultivated radishes in a tiny space. A few years later, I was interested in ornamental plants with my paternal grandmother.

Can you tell us more about some of your favourite New Zealand plants? 

You know I love New Zealand plants, although the climate in my area is a little hard for them. I particularly love sedges, but also Libertia without forgetting the Phormium. New Zealand is a bit like an Eldorado for a garden enthusiast.

What would you consider to be the biggest challenge in the garden? 

It is a vast question! No doubt that it is attractive throughout the year but especially that it is easy to maintain. Finally it corresponds to its owner. It is a great challenge in the end. The landscape designer does not make gardens for himself, but for those who will use them.

Can you tell us some of the gardeners (or gardens) you are most inspired by?

There are many! I spend a lot of time visiting gardens all over the world and I exchange with many gardeners, so a number of people influence me. I have worked with some great gardeners who are no longer with us. For example, Graham Stuart Thomas, Princess Greta Sturda and Christopher Lloyd are among my mentors. As for gardens, there is the Majorelle villa in Marrakech, the gardens of Kyoto and also the English gardens. In fact, in every garden that I visit, whether I like the style or not, there are things I remember. I would be tempted to say that the one that inspires me most is my garden!

Do you see gardening changing around the world?

Yes, of course! Before we had the internet our information about what was happening in the world was through books. Today, ideas and information circulate faster than in the past. The gardens are undoubtedly less formal and more useful. It is also certain that with the increase in population, the gardens are smaller.

What kinds of gardens do you see emerging among younger generations? 

Many young designers do not take themselves seriously. They have a much less restricted approach than a few years ago. Young designers like Leon Kluge from South Africa and Inch Lim from Malaysia represent the future of the garden. The garden gradually becomes a room to live in like the sitting room or the kitchen. More than just a decor!

What advice would you give a beginner gardener? 

There is much, but above all it would be to have fun! Every gardener, including the most skilled, has made mistakes. Don’t lose sight of the fact that the garden is a pleasure!




Pascal Garbe

© Christopher Courtois

Pascal's garden at home in Gorze, northeast France.

© PascalGarbe_Editions Ulmer-0308

Pascal's garden at home in Gorze, northeast France.

© PascalGarbe_Editions Ulmer-0308