The Planetary Garden and Other Writings

The Planetary Garden and Other Writings

The Planetary Garden and Other Writings

The Planetary Garden and Other Writings


Celebrated landscape architect Gilles Clément may be best known for his public parks in Paris, including the Parc André Citroën and the garden of the Musée du Quai Branly, but he describes himself as a gardener. To care for and cultivate a plot of land, a capable gardener must observe in order to act and work with, rather than against, the natural ecosystem of the garden. In this sense, he suggests, we should think of the entire planet as a garden, and ourselves as its keepers, responsible for the care of its complexity and diversity of life.

"The Planetary Garden" is an environmental manifesto that outlines Clément's interpretation of the laws that govern the natural world and the principles that should guide our stewardship of the global garden of Earth. These are among the tenets of a humanist ecology, which posits that the natural world and humankind cannot be understood as separate from one another. This philosophy forms a thread that is woven through the accompanying essays of this volume: "Life, Constantly Inventive: Reflections of a Humanist Ecologist" and "The Wisdom of the Gardener." Brought together and translated into English for the first time, these three texts make a powerful statement about the nature of the world and humanity's place within it.


Gilles A. Tiberghien

Delving into the concept

Gilles Clément, horticultural engineer, entomologist, landscape architect, and writer, occupies a special place in French professional circles that have long been dominated by an urbanistic vision of the role of the landscape architect. By championing in the 1970s a particular vision of the garden and nature, at a time when landscape was more readily used in the service of grand social utopias, he was somewhat marginalized. His completed projects, such as the Parc André-Citroën in Paris, in collaboration with Alain Provost and Patrick Berger from 1985–1992, the Parc Henri Matisse, opened in 2003 at Euralille with Eric Berlin and Sylvain Flippo, and the same year the garden of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris with Jean Nouvel, introduced him to a wider public and established him among his peers as one of the most important contemporary landscape architects. As a writer and talented lecturer—in 2011–2012 he held the Chaire Annuelle de Création Artistique at the Collège de France and was in demand everywhere abroad—he has popularized the concepts that he has invented, and that have helped him to design his gardens in the context of an ecological view of man’s place in our world.

Alain Roger was right when he wrote, in an essay that he devoted to Gilles Clément, “Du jardin en mouvement au jardin planétaire,” that “if it is true that philosophy, as Gilles Deleuze once stressed, is characterized by the creation of concepts, then Gilles Clément certainly deserves the title of philosopher.” Beginning with experiments in his garden laboratory, La Vallée, located in the Creuse, one of France’s least populated departments, Clément, with the idea

the inaugural lecture was published under the title Jardins, paysage et génie naturel (Paris: Éditions Fayard, 2012).

Extracts from this text are published as an appendix to the second edition of Clément, Le Jardin en mouvement (Paris: Sens & Tonka, 2001).

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