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Home > Archive > Russell Page Archive: Château du Moulinet

Russell Page Archive: Château du Moulinet

At Le Moulinet in north-central France, a small Louis XV château with huge gardens, Russell Page demonstrated his remarkable skill as a landscape architect, cleverly reconciling the disproportionate scale of house and grounds.

  • Le Moulinet, Planting Plan

    RP/1/6/114/1

    [1950]

    60 x 75 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil design on tracing paper with ink annotations (drawing number 5045/2A). As it has one of the earliest drawing reference numbers (2A), it is likely to have been executed at the beginning of the project, in 1950. It shows the layout of the garden area behind the horseshoe-shaped house. Dimensions of paths and borders have been added in pen.

  • Le Moulinet, Tree Planting Plan

    RP/1/6/114/2

    [1950]

    60 x 126 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil design on tracing paper, marked ‘Le Moulinet, echelle 1/ 200’ (drawing number 5045/5). As with RP/1/6/114/1, the drawing reference number suggests that it was executed at the beginning of the project, in 1950. It shows a larger area of land than RP/1/6/114/2, extending out to the wood (‘bois’) beyond the formal gardens. Other wooded areas are also indicated.

  • Le Moulinet, Section-feuilles

    RP/1/6/114/4

    [1950]

    33.5 x 75 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil design on tracing paper, marked ‘Section-feuilles, Chateau le Moulinet, Garancieres’ (drawing number 5045/7). As with RP/1/6/114/1, the drawing reference number suggests that it was executed at the beginning of the project, in 1950. The plan shows the stretch of land behind and in front of the château, extending further than both RP/1/6/114/1 and RP/1/6/114/2. The plot is broken down into five sections (marked A to E).

  • Le Moulinet, Plan of Lawn and Lime Trees

    RP/1/6/114/3

    [1950]

    62 x 64 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil design on tracing paper (drawing number 5045/6). The drawing reference number suggests that it was executed before RP/1/6/114/7, so sometime before April 1951. It would appear to be a plan of section ‘E’ of the garden as shown in RP/1/6/114/4. Running parallel to a large rectangle of grass (‘gazon’) are rows of cut lime trees (‘rangés de tilleuls taillés’) and, beyond this, a tennis court.

  • Le Moulinet, Tree Planting

    RP/1/6/114/6

    [1950]

    56 x 85 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil design on tracing paper (drawing number 5045/7C). The drawing reference number suggests that it was executed before RP/1/6/114/7, so sometime before April 1951. It corresponds to section ‘C’ of the garden as shown in RP/1/6/114/4. Again, the plan includes rows of evenly spaced lime trees (‘tilleuls’).

  • Le Moulinet, Parterre, Plan A

    RP/1/6/114/7

    April 1951

    46 x 42.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 17 April 1951, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Parterre A, echelle 2cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/12). It would appear to be a suggested plan for part of section ‘D’ of the garden as shown in RP/1/6/114/4; an alternative design is shown in RP/1/6/114/8.

  • Le Moulinet, Parterre, Plan B

    RP/1/6/114/8

    April 1951

    46.5 x 44 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 17 April 1951, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Parterre B, echelle 2cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/13). It would appear to be a suggested plan for part of section ‘D’ of the garden as shown in RP/1/6/114/4; an alternative design is shown in RP/1/6/114/7.

  • Le Moulinet, Garden Plan B

    RP/1/6/114/9

    April 1951

    53 x 43 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 18 April 1951 (drawing number 5045/15). It would appear to be a partial design for the courtyard area to the immediate rear of the château (area ‘A’ in RP/1/6/114/4). Marked version ‘B’, presumably there was at least one other version (an ‘A’) proposed, the drawing of which has not survived.

  • Le Moulinet, Courtyard, Revised Plan

    RP/1/6/114/10

    May to July 1951

    52 x 82 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 4 May 1951 (revisions made in July), marked ‘Madame Ortiz- Linares, Chateau du Moulinet, Garancieres, Projet cour, echelle 1cm/M, revised 30.7.51, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/16/1). Like RP/1/6/114/9, the plan shows the courtyard area to the immediate rear of the château (area ‘A’ in RP/1/6/114/4) but is a more realised version.

  • Le Moulinet, Upper steps

    RP/1/6/114/11

    June 1951

    50 x 73.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 15 June 1951, marked ‘Monsieur Ortiz-Linares, Chateau du Moulinet, Garancieres, Marches du haut, echelle 5cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/18). The drawing shows a plan and elevation of the staircase situated at the end of the courtyard (see: RP/1/6/114/10), linking it to the garden beyond.

  • Le Moulinet, Drawing of Pavilion

    RP/1/6/114/32

    June 1951

    39 x 58.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil and ink drawing on tracing paper dated June 1951, marked ‘Pavilion de [tennis], Le Moulinet’. The tennis pavilion depicted here is not indicated on any of the garden plans but presumably would have sat close to the tennis court referenced in RP/1/6/114/3.

  • Le Moulinet, Tennis Pavilion, Sketch Plan

    RP/1/6/114/41

    [1951]

    33 x 39 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil sketch plan on tracing paper, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Suggestions pour pavilion de tennis’. A plan and elevation for the tennis pavilion shown in RP/1/6/114/32.

  • Le Moulinet, Tennis Court Garden

    RP/1/6/114/43

    [1951]

    54 x 37 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil design on tracing paper, marked ‘Garancieres, Face au tennis dedant maison des [invites]’, showing the area of garden opposite the tennis pavilion.

  • Le Moulinet, Vegetable Garden and Orchard Plan

    RP/1/6/114/33

    June 1951

    55.5 x 115 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil and ink design on tracing paper dated June 1951, marked ‘Château du Moulinet, Etude pour potager et verger, echelle 0.005 = 1 metre, Vilmorin, Paris’. The extensive kitchen garden with orchard seen in this plan does not seem to be marked on any of the larger site plans: RP/1/6/114/1, RP/1/6/114/2, and RP/1/6/114/3. It is likely that it was situated above the area marked ‘Ferme’ on RP/1/6/114/1.

  • Le Moulinet, Potager

    RP/1/6/114/17

    October 1951

    50.5 x 80 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 15 October 1951, marked ‘Echelle 1/2cm/M, Abord allées potager, Garancieres, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/28). A revised version of the kitchen garden, and cutting garden, shown in RP/1/6/114/33.

  • Le Moulinet, Cutting Garden, Plan A

    RP/1/6/114/12

    August 1951

    35 x 66 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 25 August 1951, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Garancieres, Cutting Garden A, echelle 1cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/20). The cutting garden, for which this is one suggested plan, is likely to be the ‘Jardin de fleurs de Madame’ shown in RP/1/6/114/17 (and ‘Fleurs coupes’ in RP/1/6/114/33). Five variations, marked A to E, were drawn up in August 1951: RP/1/6/114/12, RP/1/6/114/13, RP/1/6/114/14, RP/1/6/114/15 and RP/1/6/114/16.

  • Le Moulinet, Cutting Garden, Plan B

    RP/1/6/114/13

    August 1951

    33 x 67 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 25 August 1951, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Garancieres, Cutting Garden B, echelle 1cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/21). The cutting garden, for which this is a suggested plan, is likely to be the ‘Jardin de fleurs de Madame’ shown in RP/1/6/114/17 (and ‘Fleurs coupes’ in RP/1/6/114/33). Five variations, marked A to E, were drawn up in August 1951: RP/1/6/114/12, RP/1/6/114/13, RP/1/6/114/14, RP/1/6/114/15 and RP/1/6/114/16.

  • Le Moulinet, Cutting Garden, Plan C

    RP/1/6/114/14

    August 1951

    34 x 67 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 25 August 1951, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Garancieres, Cutting Garden C, echelle 1cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/22). The cutting garden, for which this is a suggested plan, is likely to be the ‘Jardin de fleurs de Madame’ shown in RP/1/6/114/17 (and ‘Fleurs coupes’ in RP/1/6/114/33). Five variations, marked A to E, were drawn up in August 1951: RP/1/6/114/12, RP/1/6/114/13, RP/1/6/114/14, RP/1/6/114/15 and RP/1/6/114/16.

  • Le Moulinet, Cutting Garden, Plan D

    RP/1/6/114/15

    August 1951

    36 x 66 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 25 August 1951, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Garancieres, Cutting Garden D, echelle 1cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/23). The cutting garden, for which this is a suggested plan, is likely to be the ‘Jardin de fleurs de Madame’ shown in RP/1/6/114/17 (and ‘Fleurs coupes’ in RP/1/6/114/33). Five variations, marked A to E, were drawn up in August 1951: RP/1/6/114/12, RP/1/6/114/13, RP/1/6/114/14, RP/1/6/114/15 and RP/1/6/114/16.

  • Le Moulinet, Cutting Garden, Plan E

    RP/1/6/114/16

    August 1951

    36 x 65 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 25 August 1951, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Garancieres, Cutting Garden E, echelle 1cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/24). The cutting garden, for which this is a suggested plan, is likely to be the ‘Jardin de fleurs de Madame’ shown in RP/1/6/114/17 (and ‘Fleurs coupes’ in RP/1/6/114/33). Five variations, marked A to E, were drawn up in August 1951: RP/1/6/114/12, RP/1/6/114/13, RP/1/6/114/14, RP/1/6/114/15 and RP/1/6/114/16.

  • Le Moulinet, Flower Garden

    RP/1/6/114/19

    November 1951

    33 x 52 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 20 November 1951, marked 'Garancieres, Madame Ortiz-Linares, Jardin fleuriste, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/33). This plan for the cutting garden is close to the slightly earlier version ‘B’ design (RP/1/6/114/13).

  • Le Moulinet, Cut Flower Garden

    RP/1/6/114/36

    1951

    35 x 61 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 1951, marked ‘Jardin fleurs à couper, Le Moulinet, echelle 1/100', Accepté? [crossed through] Annuler’. Dated only to 1951, it is not known if this plan came before or after the five designs for the cutting garden marked A to E. Presumably at some point it was considered as the final design as it is marked ‘Accepté’; however at some stage it was rejected, and the plan marked ‘Annuler’.

  • Le Moulinet, Flower Garden

    RP/1/6/114/22

    February 1952

    32 x 61 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 11 February 1952, marked ‘Garancieres, Jardin bouquetier, annule croquis precedant, echelle un cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/41). This appears to be the design finally selected for the cutting garden, as suggested by the note: ‘bouquet garden, cancel previous sketch’ (‘Jardin bouquetier, annule croquis precedent’). In a plan dated the following year showing the planting scheme for the flower garden, the layout has remained the same (see RP/1/6/114/25).

  • Le Moulinet, Cut Flower Garden

    RP/1/6/114/25

    February 1953

    32 x 60 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An ink and pencil design on tracing paper dated 17 February 1953, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Jardin fleurs á couper, 1/100, Plantation 1953-‘ (drawing number 5045/56). The overall design for the cutting garden has remained as laid out in RP/1/6/114/22, with the addition of a suggested planting scheme.

  • Le Moulinet, Plan in Front and to the Side of the House

    RP/1/6/114/35

    November 1951

    53 x 75 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 4 November 1951, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Projet pour les pourtours de la maison'. The plan shows the terrace and grass area in front of the house and the parterre and pond (‘bassin’) to the east.

  • Le Moulinet, Plan in Front and to the Side of the House

    RP/1/6/114/18

    November 1951

    50 x 70 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 16 November 1951, marked ‘Projet pour le pourtour de la maison, Garancieres, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/32). Dated less than a fortnight later, the plan is a slightly more finished version of RP/1/6/114/35.

  • Le Moulinet, Château from above

    RP/1/6/114/20

    January 1952

    49 x 66 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil drawing on tracing paper dated 10 January 1952, marked 'Le Moulinet' (drawing number 5045/34), showing the terrace and grass area in front of the house and the parterre and pond to the east.

  • Le Moulinet, Terrace and Pond

    RP/1/6/114/21

    January 1952

    42 x 68 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 24 January 1952, marked ‘Garancieres, Terrasse & bassin, echelle un cm/M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/35). The plan shows the terrace and grass area in front of the house and the parterre and pond to the east, with measurements.

  • Le Moulinet, Pond Coping

    RP/1/6/114/40

    August 1952

    48.5 x 45.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 25 August 1952, marked ‘Garanciere, Couronnement bassin, 5cm/M, Modifié 20-I-54’. This shows the suggested coping at the end of the channel leading into the pond (the channel can be seen more clearly in RP/1/6/114/35 RP/1/6/114/18).

  • Le Moulinet, East Parterre

    RP/1/6/114/23

    October 1952

    33.5 x 51 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 10 October 1952, marked ‘Madame Ortiz-Linares, Parterre est, echelle 2cm/ M, Vilmorin, Paris’ (drawing number 5045/47). A plan of the parterre to the east of the château.

  • Le Moulinet, [Parterre]

    RP/1/6/114/44

    [1952]

    32.5 x 70 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated pencil design on tracing paper, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Garancieres, 5cm/M mesurer s/dessin’. Although no date is given on this plan of the parterre to the east of the château, it is likely to have been drawn around the same time as RP/1/6/114/23.

  • Le Moulinet, Swimming Pool, Modified Plan

    RP/1/6/114/24

    October to November 1952

    48 x 82 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 20 October 1952 (with revisions made on 3 November), marked ‘Le Moulinet, Piscine, 2cm/ M, 20-X-52, modifié 3-XI-52’ (drawing number 5045/53[?]). It is the first of the existing plans for a swimming pool, which was located close to the tennis court.

  • Le Moulinet, Swimming Pool, Plan A

    RP/1/6/114/26

    June 1953

    46 x 35.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 10 June 1953, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Piscine A, echelle 1cm/M’ (drawing number 5045/61). It is one of at least ten suggested plans for the swimming pool that were drawn up between June and December 1953; A, B, C, D, H and K survive in the archive (RP/1/6/114/26 to RP/1/6/114/31).

  • Le Moulinet, Swimming Pool, Plan B

    RP/1/6/114/27

    June 1953

    47 x 36 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 10 June 1953, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Piscine B, echelle 1cm/M’ (drawing number 5045/62). It is one of at least ten suggested plans for the swimming pool that were drawn up between June and December 1953; A, B, C, D, H and K survive in the archive (RP/1/6/114/26 to RP/1/6/114/31).

  • Le Moulinet, Swimming Pool, Plan C

    RP/1/6/114/28

    June 1953

    46 x 36 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 10 June 1953, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Piscine C, echelle 1cm/M’ (drawing number 5045/63). It is one of at least ten suggested plans for the swimming pool that were drawn up between June and December 1953; A, B, C, D, H and K survive in the archive (RP/1/6/114/26 to RP/1/6/114/31).

  • Le Moulinet, Swimming Pool, Plan D

    RP/1/6/114/29

    June 1953

    47.5 x 36 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 10 June 1953, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Piscine D, echelle 1cm/M’ (drawing number 5045/64). It is one of at least ten suggested plans for the swimming pool that were drawn up between June and December 1953; A, B, C, D, H and K survive in the archive (RP/1/6/114/26 to RP/1/6/114/31).

  • Le Moulinet, Swimming Pool, Plan H

    RP/1/6/114/30

    September 1953

    48 x 37.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 16 September 1953, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Piscine H, echelle 1cm/M’ (drawing number 5045/68). It is one of at least ten suggested plans for the swimming pool that were drawn up between June and December 1953; A, B, C, D, H and K survive in the archive (RP/1/6/114/26 to RP/1/6/114/31).

  • Le Moulinet, Swimming Pool, Plan K

    RP/1/6/114/31

    December 1953

    48 x 37.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 10 December 1953, marked ‘Le Moulinet, Piscine K, echelle 1cm/M’ (drawing number 5045/72). It is one of at least ten suggested plans for the swimming pool that were drawn up between June and December 1953; A, B, C, D, H and K survive in the archive (RP/1/6/114/26 to RP/1/6/114/31). Although the last of the existing designs, it is not known if this option was chosen or if there were other plans.

  • Le Moulinet, Garden Plan 2/2

    RP/1/6/114/46

    [c. 1952]

    80 x 110 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated ink design on tracing paper, marked ‘Le Moulinet, 5mm/M, 2/2’. The plan shows the area of land in front of the house. Marked ‘2 of 2’, there presumably once existed a plan ‘1 of 2’ which showed the remainder of the grounds (presumably it would have been similar in scope to RP/1/6/114/1). As it shows the circular steps to the north of the chateau, which linked the terrace to the gardens below, it is likely to have been executed after the summer of 1951 (see RP/1/6/114/11).

  • Le Moulinet, Garden Plan

    RP/1/6/114/45

    [early 1950s]

    42 x 64 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated ink design on tracing paper, marked ‘Garancieres, 2mm/M’. The plan shows the same area of grounds, to the south, east and west of the house as RP/1/6/114/46. The swimming pool appears to be shown (next to the tennis courts); if this is so, presumably it was drawn around or after the second half of 1953. Executed in pen, it may have been produced at the end of the project.

Château du Moulinet, Garancières, Yvelines, France

1950 to 1953

Archive of Garden Design Ref: RP/1/6/114

For Russell Page, the appeal of the garden at Le Moulinet lay in its remarkable scale in relation to the château: “I do not know another eighteenth-century house so small, almost miniature in all its parts, with so large and spacious a garden scheme as this must have been” (Page 269). The plans give a sense of the vastness of the grounds (most especially RP/1/6/114/2 and RP/1/6/114/4); the u-shaped house appears tiny compared to the surrounding garden. Page’s response was to break up the plot into distinct areas while keeping vistas open and uninterrupted: “It was important that no single unit should appear too large and that one would always be drawn into each part of the garden in order to see what lay beyond” (269).

The château, around 30 miles west of Paris, was built around 1750. Only one room deep, two wings projected to the north, creating a courtyard to the rear of the property. Around 1950, Page was asked by Jorge Ortiz Linares, Bolivian ambassador to France, and his wife to transform its neglected gardens. (Page would later design gardens in Switzerland and Spain for their son Jaime Ortiz Patino.) He continued to work there until the mid-1950s.

A significant number of drawings for the project survive in the archive, so that each element of the scheme is documented to some extent. As well as plans that show most of the overall site, there are also designs for parterres, pools, a potager, a flower garden and stone staircase. It was by creating these separate areas, often demarcated and enclosed by pleached lime trees, that Page established a sense of balance between the garden and the house. The three-dimensional renderings (of the château and a tennis pavilion), are a reminder of Page’s early training at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Any reading of these plans is greatly assisted by Page’s commentary on the garden in The Education of a Gardener, where he wrote about it at length (photographs of it also appear).  He described the stretch of land to the back of the house (see RP/1/6/114/2) as follows:

When I first saw the Moulinet there were still a few traces of a fairly elaborate Louis XV formal layout; but time had reduced these to a series of simplified cascades along a narrow watercourse which runs parallel to the entrance drive and a large pièce d’eau lying on the north axis of the house, some hundred yards from it and at a considerably lower level. This pool lay in a neglected orchard which had been originally a kitchen garden. Still farther away in the same direction a semi-circular bosquet of pleached limes terminated the main axis at the limit of the property. […]

The formal pool, newly cleaned and edged with stone, was very large in scale and demanded quite a formal setting and, at that, one in which perspective should play its part to relate the small scale of the house to this relatively large sheet of water and the wide skies above it. The first thing to do was to give the pool a spacious and level setting of grass. This involved considerable levelling. First of all I had to make a court from a sloping lawn. Then the lawn itself had to be broken by two shallow banks with steps to bring it down to the level of the pool. Beyond the pool the ground was again graded down to another small circular pool which had once marked the centre of the kitchen garden. Beyond this again a central path continued to the half-circle of old pleached limes at the farthest end of the garden.

The next stage was to frame these levels of grass and water. This I did by an extensive planting of hornbeam hedges now some ten feet high. After running straight down either side of the first sloping lawn, they widen to form semicircles round a huge poplar and a young forty-foot specimen which I planted to balance it. Level with the large pool, the hedges are set still farther back on each side and here I doubled them to enclose a wide grass walk shaded by two lines of clipped limes. Then, beyond the pool, they return towards the centre and continue down either side of the next sloping lawn which is considerably narrower. Finally, beyond a small round pool, the perspective is reduced to the width of a gravel path, bordered by philadelphus and old-fashioned paeonies (sic).

I planted groups of wellingtonias, sophoras, willows and scarlet oaks in the right foreground of the composition to balance eventually an existing clump of large trees to the left, and beyond and below, rows of lime trees have been planted behind the hedges, to be clipped or not when they are large enough. The site of the former kitchen garden at the far end of the perspective has been planted as a wood of lime trees with an undergrowth of hazels, hornbeam and wild strawberries (267-8).

Page then described his design for the area in front of the house to the south:

The south façade of the house, with its characteristic curved cornice, its charming fenestration and its carved figure set high in a niche, gave on to a rough meadow sloping upwards to a low hedge cutting the sky. To the east side a wood comes close to the house, while to the west a similarly planted wood lies a hundred feet further back. The formality and rigid symmetry of the house looked lost in this quite unbalanced setting, so once again it was necessary to find a simple but drastic solution.

The first thing to do was to place the house firmly in its setting by a simple paved terrace whose low retaining wall repeats the curved sweep of the cornice. This gives, by three steps, on to a space of level ground and a wide path running parallel and close to the house clear from one wood to the other. Then the meadow had to be regraded to make a perfectly plain lawn, sloping upwards to the horizon but less abruptly than before. At the far end a shaped grass bank rises to the original level at the boundary.

In order that the house should be in the centre of the composition, I planted, on the right of this lawn, four rows of lime trees, parallel to and at the same distance from the house as the wood on the left, and behind these I set another high hornbeam hedge to conceal a tennis court and a swimming pool (268-9).

Page does not write about a formal parterre and small basin to the east of the house, although presumably they were new additions (they are not marked on RP/1/6/114/1 but are on RP/1/6/114/2). Nor does he reference the new kitchen garden which, as he does explain, was moved from the north axis (see RP/1/6/114/17 and RP/1/6/114/33). A flower cutting garden was incorporated close to it, several suggested designs for which survive (see: RP/1/6/114/12 to RP/1/6/114/16; RP/1/6/114/19; RP/1/6/114/22; RP/1/6/114/25; RP/1/6/114/34; RP/1/6/114/36 and RP/1/6/114/42).

The challenges presented by the grounds at Le Moulinet were significant, and took some time to resolve. The result, however, was a series of spaces in which clear lines, reflective pools and clever planting remained entirely in sympathy with the original 18th-century château and its setting. A remarkable example of this is Page’s design for the new staircase on the north axis (RP/1/6/114/11):

There is always something just and exact to be sought for in any garden composition and in one detail, in this garden, I had a curious proof of this. I puzzled for a long time as to how to arrange the stairway which had to lead down into the garden from the entrance court in front of the house, replacing an untidy grass bank. Looking down from the house to the larger scale of the garden, it seemed as though any large simple flight of steps would do, but looking back from the garden towards the house, with its tiny wings and miniature pediment, it was clear that such a large flight of steps would be entirely out of scale. Finally I worked out the circular steps […], and when we came to dig the foundations for them we found in exactly the same spot the original foundations for a circular staircase of exactly the same diameter.

Whatever the contours of the site, the underlying shapes of a garden can scarcely be too simple. This rule holds good whether you are making a severely architectural garden extending from a formal house and carried out with a limited range of plant material or whether you want a frame, formal or informal, for a rich and varied planting (Page 269-70).

Literature

Page, Russell. The Education of a Gardener. Harvill, 1994.

van Zuylen, Gabrielle and Marina Schinz. The Gardens of Russell Page. Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2008.

Related material in the Archive of Garden Design

RP/1/31: Le Moulinet, Sketch of Garden Steps, June 1951.

Related material elsewhere

There are photographs of the château du Moulinet (with comments by Page on the backs) in the RHS Lindley Library reference collection (PAG/2/1/9).