A look back on a landscape design residency in the Gardens of William Christie 

July 10 2023

In May, the Gardens of Jardins William Christie welcomed Somil Daga, a gardener from India. We asked himm some questions about his experience and the way he sees his future as a landscape designer regarding his stay in Thiré.

Why did you choose to come to the Jardins de William Christie? 

" I wanted to get a flavor of different styles of gardening in France, and William Christie’s gardens were a perfect introduction to a formal French garden. It contrasted well with the other gardens I visited in France, for example, at La Saline Royale in Arc-et-Senans, where the gardens were more naturalistic and based on various themes.

When I first saw the website and the photographs of the gardens, I was immediately intrigued because it was unlike anything I had ever seen before: neatly trimmed topiaries, the importance of razor-sharp symmetry and the grand, linear perspectives. Everything was starkly different from the kind of work I do back home. I suppose that was what drew me to William Christie’s place, the idea of exploring something completely different and outside my style of work! "


What do you remember about this experience? 

" Hard to put into concise words because the memories are so fresh!

From helping in the gardens every day, to biking in the evenings amidst wheat fields and wildflowers, it was a wholesome experience. The accommodation was very comfortable too. Nathalie and Florian, the gardeners I worked with the most, were really helpful and kind, and explained everything to us patiently. Overall, it was a very wholesome experience, one that I will remember for a long, long time. I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone at Les Arts Florissants for organizing this for us."


Regarding this experience, how do you see your future as a landscape designer?

" It’s tough to point out, right now, exactly what aspects of my experience at Thiré will inform my skills as a landscape designer. I am certain about certain things I will not do. The style of gardening I practice is more about letting nature take its own course, instead of imposing my ideas on plants; I find beauty in nature and I try to replicate that in my gardens, and this idea was strengthened even further by my experience at William Christie’s gardens, and not at all because I don’t appreciate the beauty of formal French gardens and the effort that goes in making and maintaining them, but because this style of gardening does not resonate with me. 

But I am certainly taking back a new set of skills with me: the techniques of pruning, and usage of tools, training climbers to grow on walls, etc. I have seen and experienced new things that I had not even thought of before, and perhaps at some point they will subconsciously inform my design processes. "