Château de la Ballue and its gardens can be considered as a balcony above a green river valley not far away from Mont-Saint-Michel. The garden interacts with the landscape, forming a perfect unity.
The garden is influenced by mannerism. Two very different gardens are arranged side by side on an area covering 2 hectares. The division between them is marked by a long wisteria-covered arcade which runs between two rows of yews clipped into columns.
La Ballue comprises
– a contemporary interpretation of topiary modelled on the 16th-century Italian practice of arte topiara and thus placed in the tradition of Baroque garden design
– a maze-like structure of mysterious avenues and passages created as a stimulus for the eyes and ears
– an intimate garden with interrupted views which is crossed by a diagonal axis
– a sequence of 13 asymmetrically arranged garden “rooms” which repeatedly surprise visitors.
After the Second World War the gardens were abandoned. Restored by Claude Arthaud since 1973, the gardens fall into neglect for a second time. Then the gardens were rediscovered and restored in 1996. The new owners introduced a new rhythm of the garden rooms, played with the uncontrolled growing vegetation, and expanded the existing play of the changing perspectives by a play of light and shadow. Additional green rooms were created and supplemented with new historical and cultural references. The vision was to create a harmony of colours, a symphony of green, blue and white. Added to this were the lateral perspectives. Through their interventions, they gave the garden ensemble a mysterious and poetic atmosphere.
The jury acknowledges the multiple efforts to create and to revive the gardens of La Ballue. A garden that gets stronger and better every time. Today you can feel the knowledge, professionality and enthusiasm of the new owners, who opened house and garden for visitors, for the guests of the small hotel and for many high standard cultural events. The garden is like a demanding child, but it is good to watch how it matures.
(Text by Christian Gruessen for the presentation of La Ballue during the awarding ceremony. Foto: Yann Monel)