L'Homme qui Plantait des Arbres is a short story by Jean Giono. Giono was called up to the French army at the outbreak of World War One, this experience turned him into a lifelong pacifist.
The story tells the tale of a shepherd who removed himself from the world and lived out his days planting trees. Unaware of both the great wars which rocked Europe he works on relentlessly and happily, just as Jean Giono himself tirelessly and quietly continued his work.
Vita Sackville West’s greatest passion was her garden at Sissinghurst which she created with her husband, Harold Nicolson. Her gardening style was quintessentially English, bold and romantic.
She favoured abundance in planting over neatness - Harold despaired when she refused to cut down the ivy threatening to engulf their Elizabethan mansion, which was home to her beloved thrushes and blackbirds. Standing at over 6 feet tall and with arresting dark looks Vita attracted many lovers, most famously Virginia Woolf.
In later years she preferred the solitude of her garden and became a familiar figure in her uniform of jodhpurs and knee gaiters, trowel in one hand and cigarette in the other.
During the creation of this collection we, inevitably, turned to home for inspiration. A family house in Ariege where the French countryside thrives untamed is where the collection begins and ends. Morning walks through our garden and afternoon hikes through the countryside formed our ideas.
Funnily enough the print dedicated to our own garden has very little to do with the French countryside, but everything to do with garden stories. In a shady corner we inherited a lone, shaggy palm, quickly marked for the chop.
However Susan the tyrannical gardener did not have her way. Two stubborn friends staying at the house petitioned for its survival and woke up early one morning to tidy it up and save it from firewood. Now it is much loved and provides a perfect reading spot.
Until the early 20th century rigid Victorian planting schemes dominated the parks and gardens of England in a bid to conquer Nature.
This print was inspired by a school of less formal gardeners such as William Robinson who despised neatly regimented rows of begonias and ‘snooker table’ lawns.
They filled their gardens instead with swathes of wild flowers and the tangle of unmown meadows providing havens for wildlife and restoring natural beauty to the landscape.
The Notre Jardin collection began with the tale of Dr Gachet and Van Gogh. This print features flowers from Dr Gachet’s garden.
Van Gogh believed in the restorative power of flowers and gardens and wrote to his sister, Wil, telling her to cultivate her garden to find joy and meaning in her life.
During Van Gogh’s stay with Dr Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise he enjoyed a final and productive period painting 70 paintings in 70 days, including a portrait of Dr Gachet and several paintings of his garden.