Garden of the She-Wolves

Nicole de Vésian – “La Louve”, Bonnieux, Provence, France

Summary: Nicole De Vésian is well known for her career in fashion at the House of Hermes, but at the ripe age of 69, she found new fame working with a fabric of a three dimensional sort. Her garden tapestry entitled “La Louve” (The She-Wolf) and located at her home in Provence, has often been called her greatest design project. Trading in haute couture for horticulture, this first lady of fashion spent the last ten years of her life dressing landscapes around the world with her fabulous “minimalist, whimsical and dreamlike” sense of style. Today, Judith Pillsbury, who bought “La Louve” shortly before Nicole’s death, maintains the garden in true faith to the original conception, an ongoing tribute to the woman who was known as “chic personified”.
Garden Contact Information: La Louve
Chemin Saint Gervais
84480 Bonnieux
France

Email: jinfrance@aol.com


The Garden: La Louve is located in Bonnieux in Provence, France. Covering less than 500 square metres, the garden is built on hillside terraces. Judith Pillsbury, an art dealer, who bought the property just before Nicole’s death calls it the most important work of art she owns. By many it is considered Nicole’s greatest design project. Almost every plant on this living tapestry has been shaped by hand. Some of them were meticulously attended to by Nicole with nail scissors.

Each level offers it’s own sensual delight, the smells of Rosemary and Lavender, the textures of stones. The terraces overlook the hills of the Luberon countryside. The garden itself has a Japanese style to it, with more stones than flowers. The ground is lined with pebbles with collections of stone blocks in a number of locations. But touches of color highlight the area from white rose bushes, pink cistus flowers and the occasional iris. There is a lot of rosemary, box, santolina, sage, lavender, cieraria, and teucrium. All of which flourish in a dry climate.

Judith keeps the garden well preserved to the original, with some new additions in keeping with Nicole’s style, including a beautiful new pool.

Guided tours may be arranged by appointment for groups of ten people or more. The garden is not open to the public in the months of June, July, and August.

The Gardeners' Story: Nicole De Vesian was born in 1914 to an aristocratic French mother and a father who was a banker from Wales. Nicole was 23 when France declared war on Nazi Germany. A single mother by this time, she fled Paris with her children when the Germans began to invade the city. Accounts say that when she ran out of gas, she traded in her escape car for a wheel of gruyere cheese and a bicycle.

In 1942, Nicole married the Count de Vesian, a young military officer. They became stars on the Parisian social scene after the war. At the age of 40 Nicole De Vesian started out as a free lance fashion stylist, opening her own business called “New Vision Design” She started working with Hermes designing everything from linen and leather to hats and silver. She was assisted by future fashion superstar designer Christian Lacroix.

After her husband’s death, when Nicole was 69 years old, she moved out of Paris to Bonnieux, where she purchased her new house. When she arrived it was little more than a ruin, but she set to work creating a home and garden for herself on the property known as “La Louve” or She- Wolf. Louisa Jones, author of the book “Gardens in Provence” wrote about the beauty that was Nicole’s garden and soon it was attracting visitors from around the world. Nicole, now in her seventies, found herself with a new design career, only this time with a tapestry of a three dimensional sort.

Shortly after selling “La Louve” to Judith Pillsbury, Nicole passed away in 1996 at the age of 82. Judith continues to preserve the style of Nicole’s original garden design.

Link:
Behind the Scenes: Executive Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Producer: Merit Jensen Carr
Creative Producer: Donna Gall
Line Producer: Sandra Moore
Director: Erna Buffie
Writer: Erna Buffie
Researchers: Erna Buffie & Carolyn Vandernagel
Narration Writer: Erna Buffie
Editor: Joni Church
Director of Photography: Barry Lank, CSC
Narrator: Bonnie Dickie
Music: Michael Plowman

Date: 2006

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