The sights and scents of Grasse at RHS Chelsea
Following the success of the gold winning L’Occitane Garden at RHS Chelsea in 2012, which was inspired by the Corsican landscapes where the Immortelle flowers grow, L’Occitane is delighted to be returning to RHS Chelsea in 2015 with a garden designed to celebrate the sights and scents of “the world famous perfume capital” of Grasse.
Garden designer, James Basson, will be designing the garden which will be based around Basson’s first-hand experiences in Grasse where he has a home. The garden will bring together the key plant species and breath-taking Grasse scents and colours from a rich landscape. It is based on an historical garden of a perfume grower, a space that transports us to the Mediterranean, with scented flowers and aromatic plants. The garden’s terrain will change from the dry Mediterranean to a shadier greener damp environment.
The 2012 L’Occitane garden was very popular and I feel sure that James Basson’s design for 2015 will be another favourite with visitors. The planting scheme includes wonderful plants such as Citrus bergamia, Citrus aurantium, Jasminum officinalis and of course Lavandula officinales. Fig and rosemary hedges will provide both scent and reflect their historical use for drying clothes and infusing them with their floral scent.
The garden will also feature a historical bathhouse (a lavoir) common throughout Europe and essential to Provencal life and closely linked to the perfume industry.
Having visited Grasse myself I am particularly looking forward to seeing James’ interpretation of the landscape and of the scents used by the perfume industry.
The perfume industry in Grasse has been in decline for several years and many of the traditional plantations have become overgrown, but now with the support of ecologically sensitive companies like L’Occitane, the industry is experiencing a significant renaissance. The garden is designed to reflect this with both historic elements and a more naturalistic view to represent the history of the perfume industry, combined with an emerging, more tended feel that shows the present day growing importance of Grasse for perfume.
L’Occitane started its journey in the heart of Provence in the 1970’s, sourcing natural plants extracts through sustainable partnerships with local growers to create fragrance, bath and body products. The Chelsea garden will celebrate the traditions of the people of Provence and particularly Grasse, their community, values and cultures.
“The structure of the garden is taken directly from the surrounding agricultural architecture of Grasse,” explains James. “The garden will recreate the Provencal hillsides and the history of the perfume industry and will include Osmanthus, Iris, Bergamot, Lavender, Thyme, Fig, Rosemary, all key ingredients in the L’Occitane Grasse fragrance collection.”
Celebrating their return to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, L’Occitane will launch their newest fragrance, Fig & Osmanthus, inspired by the Provençal summertime. It unites the sun-warmed fig tree from Provence and the sparkling Osmanthus from the Far East. (pictured left)
Personally, I am looking forward to seeing James’ garden as I am particularly fond of Provence and feel sure that this garden will certainly transport us to the warmth and beauty of the Mediterranean.