Gardening Tips > May > RHS Chelsea inspiration – creating a Provence garden

RHS Chelsea inspiration – creating a Provence garden

After winning a prestigious gold medal last year for his ‘Perfumers Garden in Grasse’, James Basson once again teamed up with L’Occitane to create another Gold medal winning show garden at Chelsea Flower Show.

This year James Basson has recreated a little piece of a Provence landscape and it’s hard to see his design and not want to sit down in its little seating area on a warm summer’s evening with a glass of wine and just relax.

Copyright of GAP Photos Ltd. © 2016

Copyright of GAP Photos Ltd. © 2016

It’s impossible to be in Provence and not feel completely calm and content so recreating a little piece of that heaven in your own garden has definite appeal.

Creating an exact replica of James Basson’s design is unfortunately not very practical in the UK as our climate just doesn’t match the glorious Mediterranean climate that Provence enjoys. However, it is entirely possibly to capture elements of what makes up a Provence garden to create your own little retreat so long as you have a lovely sunny garden.

Dry stone walling and meandering gravel pathways are very traditional elements of Provencal garden design. Plant can be found popping up amongst the gravel and it feels natural and informal.  If a dry stone wall is an impractical option you could simply use larger rocks and boulders as edging and in amongst your plants for decoration.

The right plants are what really make a Provence garden individual.  James Basson’s design is inspired by the origins of L’Occitane and its production of essential oils from locally sourced lavender and rosemary. His final design is very naturalistic with lots of grasses and does look a little unkempt and weedy as it is intended to appear as a reclaimed area of the landscape on the edge of a lavender field. Scent plays an important part to the atmosphere of the garden and the colours are very soft and muted with lots of silver, grey, purple and the hint of yellowy/lime.


You can’t create a Provence inspired garden without Lavender and English lavender is perfect for our climate and will fill your garden with scent throughout summer.  Water well until established and ensure it has plenty of sunshine and drainage and it will thrive. After the first flush of flowers, cut back the flower stems down to the scented foliage and you should see a second flush of flowers within weeks.

‘Munstead’ Lavender is a compact lavender named Gertrude Jekyll’s garden. It produces masses of dense bluish-purple flowers that are ideal for cutting and drying.

‘Hidcote’ lavender is possible one of the best known varieties of English lavender. Smaller than Munstead it is named after Hidcote manor gardens and is ideal for edging pathways and borders as a low hedge.  Its flowers are a dark purple and are also ideal for cutting and drying.

For a full list of all the plants used in James Basson’s Provence garden click here 

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