Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden

Inspiring Garden Design: Ideas to Borrow from a Parisian Garden

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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).

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

8 thoughts on “Inspiring Garden Design: Ideas to Borrow from a Parisian Garden

  1. As always, delightful, Bettie!
    I’ve enjoyed your take on France over the years, through your lovely books and now your ‘e- site’. Very fun.
    You have broadened my French horizons with the many insightful photos and text.
    Love the ‘borrowed’ landscape around this elegant hotel, frames it nicely. You are my inspiration for upcoming travel.
    Take Care!
    Susan Tancredi

    1. Oh Susan, what a wonderful thought…inspiration for upcoming travel.And when you make it to Paris (or return) do drop by the Shangri-La to see this in person. It is truly dreamy!
      Thank for being part of my Private Newport family. Cheers,Bettie

  2. Name of the restaurant at this hotel : “L’Abeille”= The Bee — a buzzing reference to Napoleon’s choice of productive imagery on his ceremonial cape, on the coat of arms, decoration, etc
    ” Symbol of immortality and resurrection, the bee was chosen so as to link the new dynasty to the very origins of France. Golden bees (in fact, cicadas) were discovered in 1653 in Tournai in the tomb of Childeric I, founder in 457 of the Merovingian dynasty and father of Clovis. They were considered as the oldest emblem of the sovereigns of France.” ( dixit Napoleon site)

  3. Absolutely more beautiful than words can say. I could stay here for a couple weeks. Gave my heart inspiration for Spring. I love beautiful gardens.

    1. Lots of inspiration in this small space, Jean! Treat your self to a stop by (or stay!) when you’re next in Paris. Happy Spring, Bettie

  4. Bettie-

    Could you write an article on wallpapers/wallfabrics/plasterwork of antique Newport homes such as that at Vernon House? There must be some remarkable pieces of this art still in existance around private Newport.

    Thanks and regards-


    1. That’s a great idea, Lauren, and one I’ve considered over the years.Let me put a tickler in my blog folder! Good to hear from you, Bettie

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