Judith Lemoine Paysage
PARIS & BRITTANY, FRANCE
May I introduce Judith Lemoine, @judithlemoine_paysage, an award winning French "Paysagist" - our poetic word for landscaper. She's studied hard and long to aquire the knowledge she uses to create incredible suspended gardens in Paris and all over France
Judith took me to visit her creations and to film the atmosphere that a pocket of nature creates in a mineral world. I was blown away by the beauty she spreads around her, by the kind patience she has to see it all grow so slowly and by her trust in mother nature.
That day was a very special one for both of us. See, Judith is also my dear cousin, and we don’t see each other very often. It was a great opportunity to catch up, talk about all the really tough but also the good things that happened to our lives. Share our dreams.
She's the most courageous and wise person I know... Her Paysage business is blooming and she spreads beauty wherever she digs her spade. >>
The project of launching this website for my work is part of a bigger plan. I want to share the passion of the people I film and photograph. So I’ve decided to interview them one by one (it’s going to take time, so bear with me) and get to know them and their project much better. I want to give more meaning to my images.
I’ll start with Judith Lemoine.
Judith is an architect landscaper born in Paris. Her speciality is to create beautiful gardens with as little impact on the ground as possible. She chooses local plants which need very little watering and promotes bio-diversity.
What did you study?
I did a 2 year BTS [French equivalent of technical studies post HSC, in the eminent art college. F.] Olivier de Serre in Paris in ceramic. The another 2 year BTS in Landscaping at Saint Germain en Laye (near Paris) which I did simultaneously with a training at the Versailles Council in the Green Spaces department. Then I did a Landscape Architecture School in Bordeaux over 5 years including one in Argentina.
What led you to choose Landscaping?
My taste for Nature, Fauna, Flora and wide spaces. The fact that I love being outside no matter what type of weather and that I love having my hands in mud, which led me to ceramic in the first place.
It's also my holidays spent at my grand-parents place in Burgundy, working in the woods or in the vegetable garden with my grand-father. My love for good food, good produce, so by extension my love of cultivating the soil.
Was it an early choice?
No. My decision to become a landscaper came after my studies in literature, art, and then ceramic. I told myself, why not try, it's what I really want to do. I could mix ceramic and gardens.
But in reality, people were warning me that landscaping is a man's world, too hard for me, too much mathematics and physics for me. So I felt intimidated and I didn't dare to take the plunge.
But one day, I dared. I went to apply to a BTS in Landscaping and I found quite quickly a place to do my practical training [these studies need to have a practical side and you need to find a stage by yourself. F.]. It got me started. This BTS is very technical and it revealed a part of me that I didn't know. I got very good results and I discovered new character traits within myself: pugnacity and a love for work.
How has your career evolved?
I started to design gardens quite early on, during my BTS. I worked for the Yvelines Council where I created a medieval garden with a flowery meadow, a rose garden, an orchard and a herb garden. I also created a few gardens and terraces with a friend form the BTS.
During my Landscaping Architecture studies, I started to work on wider landscapes, urbanism and large territories. I left small gardens aside for a while to undertake more substantial urban projects.
I worked as a guide at Bordeaux’s Botanical Garden on the weekends. There, I learned a lot about ecology, medicinal plants and vegetables.
I also did a stage at a Design Firm in Paris and in Bordeaux where I worked on international public projects including for countries such as China and Switzerland.
After a while I felt the need to be in contact with the soil again, so I worked in a nursery during several Summers. And then something life changing happened. I decided to spend my 4th year of study in Argentina. I worked through WOOFING in many permaculture farms. I learned new culture techniques, and also how to get to know the soil, I discovered agro-ecology and permaculture.
When I came back I passed my Landscape Architecture diploma DPLG. My project was the creation of an Urban Agricultural Park near Bordeaux. I worked for a year with farmers, local organisations and public structures.
I explored how agriculture sculpts the landscape around us and how to make it more accessible, fun, respectful and pedagogical. It made me want to start my own organic vegetable farm. So I worked on French organic farms for 6 months and I studied organic fruit and vegetable agriculture in Pau (south of France). I also did an organic farming class for 6 months. But a broken foot and love made me change directions and I moved to Brittany. I decided to blend permaculture, ceramic and organic agriculture into one project. I started my own business in the form of a cooperative. Today I create organic gardens.
Can you tell us more about it?
I create ultra productive organic gardens respecting the environment. I choose trees and bushes, edible if possible, that will bring something to the local fauna and flora (flowers, fruits, seeds). I don’t use any polluting elements and I work with a palette of plants which are adapted to the terrain, the climate and do not require much water.
If possible I avoid any terrain disruptions to respect the soil structure that’s already there.
My gardens are as beautiful as they are productive. I use perennials which need very little care. I buy them from small producers who are passionate about what they do and offer a range a plants you can’t find easily elsewhere. I start with a very precise soil and terrain analysis in order to use what’s there as much as possible. If trees or bushes need to be pruned, the off-cuts and leaves are turned into mulch used for covering and protecting the soil. My soil enriching techniques come from permaculture.
What was your first contract?
It was a terrace in Paris, in the 18th arrondissement. The view was absolutely magnificent. The client adorable. I planted tall magnolias and climbers in a series of planters. Then I added all sorts of aromatic plants and flowering perennials.
What has been your biggest challenge?
A 1500m2 garden in Brittany I created in 2017/2018. I wasn’t familiar with the seaside climate and the works took a long time. There was a lot of heavy structural work and very demanding clients. A big budget too. I was worried not to be able to contain the budget, not to be able to manage the local teams of workers and artisans. But today I’m proud to say that the garden is gorgeous and the clients very happy. This garden will evolve with time and will never be completely finished. I still take care of it and add new plants every year following my inspiration. What makes me really happy is that these clients who never used to garden much are now really enjoying their time taking care of it, including weeding!
What creation are you the proudest of?
These three terraces in Paris, in the 16th arrondissement, that you’ve filmed and photographed. Nature is really beautiful there. My clients are very happy and everything grew so fast and so well. It was a big project with quite heavy structural work and I really like the results. The garden I was talking about in Brittany makes me very proud too but I don’t consider it finished yet. There’s some work left to do.
What would be your dream project?
A large garden, an old park in need of restoration, or improvement. I like to start from a pre-existing base, a story. I would also like a manor’s garden or a charming countryside or seaside property. An unlimited budget would be a dream as well as clients who fully trust me, leaving me enough time to refine my work year after year.
What do you like the most in your job?
Three things. First, be in contact with plants. Starting by imagining them in-situ, then choosing them in a nursery, planting them and finally taking good care of them. I love plants! I have a job both physical and intellectual, the common factor is plants. And then there is the people. I enter their homes, their lounge room, their privacy. I have very good relations with my clients and more often than not we become good friends. I also meet all sorts of different people on job sites: carpenters, tree climbers, landscapers, workers and artists. I love meeting them, it makes my job a very interesting one. Last, there is the freedom, my independence. I choose who I want to work with, where, when, at what pace, with which materials, which professionals. I’m extremely free and it’s an immense luxury nowadays, I’m very aware of it.
Who are the landscaping (or not) artists who inspire you the most?
Camille Muller, landscaper, impresses me and inspires me a lot. I like his universe, his work with matter and textures, his choice of plants and his ecological philosophy. There is an artistic side to him that touches me. Luis Barragan, a Mexican architect who creates sleek, fine and simple lines. I love his colour scheme, his ultra-modern artistic approach. Francis Hallé who is a botanist, biologist and est un botaniste, biologiste et dendrologist. For me, he’s a poet and a writer. He made me discover the world of plants with his treetop raft. He is a great man. There are many many others such as Pierre Rabhi, Jimy Blom, or Laure Planchais.
What are your top five plants?
That’s a tough question, nearly impossible to answer! I’ve just discovered a beautiful forest plant called Cardiandra Formosana. It a little jewel of a perennial, very feminine and delicate. I love the Mutabilis rose as well. Amelanchier canadensis is a beautiful tree baring edible little berries. I use it a lot in my gardens. And finally I have discovered a seaside plant with an astonishingly graphic look, it’s called Baccharis genistelloides. Oh and I love a few sorts of asters. There are so many sorts but some of them are really beautiful, flowering quite late in the season.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who’s just starting their garden?
First, take your time.
Observe your garden, draw a map, noting all its particularities: what makes it special, what is it made of: plants, where does the sun hit, what type of soil, what is the terrain like.
List what colour theme you like, what textures, what plants.
Using transparent drawing paper, trace a first draft of your garden, its paths, the different scenes, what they’re for (lunch area, place to lie in the grass) then trace the flower beds, their shapes (round, square, egg shaped).
Leave the plan to rest and pick it up a few months later after having read gardening books. If necessary, rectify it and start working on the structure and then plant, but slowly. A garden is time.
A few photos shot that day…