Monday, February 01, 2016

A Potager Inspired by Mount Vernon

"I dress the garden with a new look each season- just like a collection." 

So said Hubert de Givenchy, whose gardens at Le Jonchet, his 16th-century chateau near Paris, appear to be a slice of verdant heaven.  Back in the mid-1990s, one of those new looks entailed the building of a new potager, or kitchen garden. Givenchy's first potager, seen below in image number two, had been inspired by Venice.  But for his subsequent potager, the designer sought inspiration in a classic American setting: George Washington's garden at Mount Vernon.

Whenever Givenchy visited his great friend, Bunny Mellon, the two made a habit of visiting Mount Vernon.  Those trips made a great impact on the designer, who later fashioned his potager's two pavilions and fencing after those at Mount Vernon.  As Givenchy explained, "I adore America and the idea of having a little bit of American perfection at Le Jonchet.".

It might be the pair of pavilions that I find most charming; in fact, I feature one of the pavilions in my "In with the Old" slide presentation.  While one pavilion was intended for use by the head gardener, the other was built for the designer's personal use.  That one is filled with elegant-yet-rustic furniture, gardening tools, and books.  "Each little thing in my pavilion comes from a trip and is something I love," said Givenchy.

The Venetian-inspired potager.

In his then-new potager, Givenchy chose board fences like those at Mount Vernon.

Above, the head gardener's pavilion.

Givenchy's pavilion.

The unique curved bench is a replica of one at Cawdor Castle, Scotland.

The view of the lake from the pool house.

All images from House Beautiful, Christopher Simon Sykes photographer.


  1. Everything about that man said "style"...

  2. SRB is so right! The old stone sink, the tiled floor...and that perfect French blue!

    I wish I had room in my little courtyard for a potting shed like that. All I have to do is figure out how to miniaturize Monsieur Givenchy's. Meanwhile, I actually have a log basket like his, so it's a start!


  3. I agree with srb + he is so great!

  4. Mitchell Owens12:12 PM

    Love that Bunny M had (at least) two of her own MV potting sheds, at her Cape Cod residence.

  5. I wonder if his cooking was as wonderful as his fragrances and designs.