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The Carrière Frères Garden

Located in Mortagne-au-Perche since 1901 via its manufacturing workshop, our company wanted to commit even further to the region. This has now been achieved in the greenest of ways: Carrière Frères has invested in the creation of a botanical garden for the town, along with the help of the Normandy Heritage Foundation and the Mortagne-au-Perche city government. It is quite unique among gardens, as it houses a seed garden and has lofty

THE SEED GARDEN: A SPACE FOR ALL KINDS OF PLANTING

Representing a holistic plant approach, the botanical garden initiated by Carrière Frères and designed by Antoine Ménard, a landscape gardener from Mortagne, will enable the seed garden to be enlarged. Vegetables, flowers and herbs grow there protected by a stone wall. They are not picked or cut, but are watched over by the Mortagne in Transition Association, which looks after the seeds from sowing to distribution. When their time comes, they are harvested, packaged and placed in a seed library. Mortagne residents can then freely use them for their own vegetable gardens, or even contribute with their own harvests, conferring on this small garden great virtues of dialogue and sharing. Various endemic, rare or robust plant varieties will be seeded and planted in the 400m² garden, a sustainable way of enhancing and preserving the local floral heritage and biodiversity.

CULTIVATING CURIOSITY AND COMMUNITY

With its benches, tables and chairs as well as a wooden terrace and a kiosk, the future garden is intended to be a place for Mortagnais and tourists to stroll around, as well as a space for discovery, since it will have information boards on the various species, seeds and missions of Mortagne in Transition. It will be an opportunity for all generations to learn about biodiversity and natural cycles. And because the presence of hardworking pollinators is essential to the sustainability of the site, an educational beehive – transparent on one side and with a high entrance for greater safety – will be installed by the Orne Black Bee Conservatory, enabling visitors to observe the work of the workers in complete safety.

Antoine Ménard's interview, landscape gardener

Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

I have always been passionate about nature. I have not ju

st sought to contemplate it. Very early on, I loved “working with” nature. I had the opportunity to work in different fields related to landscape architecture, including as: architect, surveyor, urban planner, horticulturist, and garden entrepreneur. My first experiences in a landscape design office were at Palik Van Hövell near Tournai, Belgium.  And naturally, I went through training in Gembloux, near Namur, Belgium. Belgium has a good mix of influences, from the structure of Flemish gardens to the poetry of English gardens. At the end of my studies, I needed something concrete and I developed my landscaping business, first in Brussels and soon after in the Oise department of northern France. In 2010, I chose to concentrate exclusively on my expertise as a landscape designer. I set up shop in Mortagne-au-Perche in 2014. It's a region I love and that has been very welcoming.

 

What inspires you at Carrière Frères?

Carrière Frères as a company draws inspiration from nature. We have that in common. It’s a virtuous, revitalizing process. Carrière Frères put down the roots for its business in the late 19th century. It was a time of great cultural and botanical excitement. These were the beginnings of archaeological and cultural heritage circles, the era of discoveries and scientific curiosity. That period is still inspiring for its boldness, refinement, and elegance. 

 

What were your sources of inspiration for this project?

I naturally sought inspiration from the late Second French Empire. Using wood in the garden was an obvious choice. In Mortagne-au-Perche, we are lucky to have the last French example of a Napoleon III-style racecourse grandstand. I was inspired by the handrails and the idea of the platform. The wood on structures is painted, with only the flooring retaining the raw wood look. Having a beehive in the garden also influenced the choice of plants, many of which are sources of nectar. A flowering prairie completes the palette.

 

How is this space special to you?

The site chosen for this project is located by the old collegiate church of Mortagne-au-Perche. The church was destroyed in 1792. Only the Saint André crypt under the collegiate church remains. It served as the foundation for the tribunal built in the early 19th century. The early 13th century crypt has a simple, majestic architecture. The Carrière Frères garden will surround it and showcase it like an antechamber of plants. And so Carrière Frères is very much a part of the history of this little town with a big personality.

 

What is your definition of the ideal garden?

A garden is plot of land where nature is tamed. It needs to remind us of our ties to the plant world while also being aesthetically pleasing through careful planning. A garden is a very personal creation. It springs forth from the aesthetic vision of an individual. However, it is intended to welcome a somewhat broader public. The genius in garden design lies in the use of harmonious proportions and in the effort to create the perfect synthesis of a garden and its environment.

 

What do you think makes a good landscape architect?

A landscape architect is a catalyst. They have the ability to assemble the various elements of the landscape to showcase its full beauty. They use their knowledge of garden design and optics to create a space where you can feel at peace. They must also be able to listen to the client and translate their desires into the garden. A good knowledge of and interest in plants are both critical. It is all a question of passion and patience.