A Romantic Garden at the Edge of the Sea in France
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Located in Normandy near the seaside city of Cabourg, famous both for its mild winters and for being the real-life inspiration for Marcel Proust's fictional Balbec resort, is a romantic garden created by French landscape designer Louis Benech. Benech, whose later work has been informed by the time he spent as a member of the team hired to revitalize the Tuilieries Garden in Paris in the early 1990s, likes to create a formal structure—and then soften it with naturalistic plantings. Photographs via Louis Benech . Above: The way that plants grow naturally in the wild inspires Benech's garden designs. "The basis of my gardens is native plants, and then I add exotic things to the mixture to make a blend," he told an Architectural Digest interviewer recently. Above: Benech, a lifelong plant lover who as a young man considered gardening a hobby, focused instead on international law in school. But after graduation he took a job as a nurseryman in Hampshire, England. His big break as a garden designer came in the 1990s when he was a member of the team hired to restore the Jardin des Tuileries . Above: Benech has designed hundreds of gardens around the world, and has imbued each with a lyrical romanticism. "His approach, which combines French formality with a loose naturalism, serves as a good lesson for American gardeners, who tend to consider the two mutually exclusive," a New York Times reviewer wrote recently. Above: A study in yellow: irises, climbing roses and lady's mantle. Above: Tightly clipped formal hedges hold more naturalistic plantings at bay. Above: For a look at more of Benech's modern romanticism, 'O f What Use is the Tuileries to Us? '