Like many trades, gardening combines a variety of activities that require many skills. From drawing to landscape creation, botany, construction or decoration, landscapers are now multiplying their talents to transform our outdoor spaces into enchanting places! Alexandre Phelip was seduced from his adolescence by this multi-faceted activity: in love with plants like pencils, this landscape artist artist at heart puts every day his imagination at the service of plants to sublimate them. Meeting with a dream designer.
Why did you choose the profession of landscaper?
My first ambition was to become a lawyer, like my father. But I realized from my first years of study that this job was not for me. Very attracted by nature and drawing, I radically changed my path to turn to the Higher School of Garden Architecture. I was immediately won over by the creative aspect of the landscaping profession, which does not consist solely of composing a green space and maintaining it - as many may think. First and foremost a designer, I like to create different universes, imagine volumes, choose colors, materials and essences before putting all my ideas on paper to present them to the client. I had the chance to learn at Philippe Niez, who taught me a lot of secrets about this job. With this experience, I started my own business in 2000 by creating the agency Entre ciel et vert.
What is your daily life like?
We are six landscapers working at the agency, divided between the design and monitoring of the gardens. We work mainly in Paris and its suburbs, but over time we have expanded our area of intervention to the province and even abroad! Our philosophy is to guide the client while meeting their wishes: most of the time, I take care of going there to discover the places and illustrate the project afterwards. All our sites, whether 10 hectares or 30 m2, are drawn beforehand by hand, never by computer.
What plants and styles of gardens inspire you?
I don't like to lock myself in well-defined boxes or styles. My job is to constantly present new plants and original arrangements, not to repeat what has already been done in the past! I would simply say that I like to mix the plant blur with more structured ensembles, in order to confuse the tracks and not to offer gardens that are too strict or on the contrary too messy. It is for these reasons that I like the work of landscapers Tom Stuart or Russel Page ... The British have always had a mastery of the garden which is very close to what I like. In terms of plants, I often work with perennials, boxwood ... but once again I don't like to mention plants in particular, because all of them have advantages and disadvantages!
Do you have a specific project that is close to your heart?
I have been fortunate to work for 5 years in a large private garden near Fontainebleau, a project for which the owner has given me carte blanche from the start! This outdoor space is in fact a succession of small gardens that I have transformed over time by adding decorative elements - arbor, fountain -, rare plants, an aviary and even a small house on stilts. The owner likes to recharge his batteries when he comes back from a trip, and I take great pleasure in touring the place in his company to show him what's new as the work progresses… More info on //www.entrecieletvert.com/