I love the fact that garden design inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. For this garden aficionado, one of the highlights of my late September trip to Paris was touring the new green oasis at the very elegant Shangri-La Hotel in the sixteenth arrondissement. A rarity, it is one of only two Parisian hotels that have a true garden, memorable for many reasons.
The Setting — an inner courtyard created by the addition of a new wing to the original 19th century hôtel particulier that was home to Prince Ronald Bonaparte, a noted botanist (coincidentally) and great-nephew of Napoleon. The wing sports grand suites that prompted this exquisite garden, while the Eiffel Tower, which is just across the Seine, peaks over neighboring buildings adding a magical backdrop.
The garden stretches the full length of the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Abeille.
The Design — A stylistic exercise in symmetry and perspective, noteworthy, too, for its sophisticated selection of plant material. Six monumental Medici stone urns, of just the right height and scale, anchor the design and introduce a floral note at a different view point. Their grandeur and singular statement speaks to the element of restraint that so commends this garden.
At the lawn’s end, a pergola recalls the terraced aesthetic of Mediterranean gardens.
The Plantings — The perimeter of the Shangri-La’s garden includes exotic and flowering trees (i.e. Japanese maple, Persian ironwood, shadbush and eucalyptus).
Dark green lattice on one side, fronted by sculptured topiary and lush evergreens, provides additional visual structure, with elegant accents provided by neighboring buildings.
It was late September when these pictures were taken, which speaks to the success of this garden in looking lush and appealing throughout the year. One key to accomplishing this is in the experienced selection of colorful seasonal trees and vines. Magnolias, camellia sasenqua, rosebushes, mimosa, and jasmine are interspersed with plants and other shrubs to create this distinctive, yet harmonious oasis in the middle of Paris.
The greatest compliment that I can pay this creation is to say that its sensibilities and tasteful selections come across as a lovingly tended paradise you would find at a private home.
One might be prompted to opine that with its new wing and garden, the Shangri-La Hotel has blossomed into its full splendor (pun intended).