Inside the Orange Garden of Parc Andre Citroen
Inside the Orange Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

If the robust site plan is the skeleton, The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen as part of its Thematic Gardens are at the same time parts of its living flesh.

And this is because the Serial Gardens make a decisive contribution to form the physical state of the Park while simultaneously repoussé revealing the theoretical intentions of its creators – which we formally interpret here as narratives that take the place of Postmodern meta-narratives.

In this article, the editorial team of ‘Kalliergeia‘ as one body, prick up the ears to these narratives, which elicits a great deal of imagination up to the delirium point.

The Serial Gardens of the Park

Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen Plan
Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen Plan

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen & the Associations

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen are on the right side of the central lawn – when one looks at the Seine.

Spatially there are six consecutive gardens in number, but conceptually are seven discontinuous. How is this done? Well, it looks like everything can be done in this park.

The Six Serial Gardens

Each Serial Garden has its own name, and is associated with a different group of six total material and immaterial entities, which are composed of the individual forms of each. These entities are:

  • The metals
  • The planets
  • The days of the week
  • The states of water
  • The human senses
  • The colors

In the latter, the colors owe each Serial Garden its name. The names of the gardens are:

  • Golden Garden (Jardin Dorie)
  • Silver Garden (Jardin Argenti)
  • Red Garden (Jardin Rouge)
  • Orange Garden (Jardin Orange)
  • Green Garden (Jardin Vert)
  • Blue Garden (Jardin Bleu)

The Seven Serial Gardens

The human senses, with a little bit of good will, can be up to six, but the days of the week are seven. And in order to fully relate the gardens to the days of the week, the Black Garden is conceptually added to the serials, and the instinct is added to the six senses so that there is no shortage of matching.

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Utilization of the Enclosure Element

Each Serial Garden is visually isolated from the other, but also from the park. Certainly this is an intelligent design solution, since without this finding, the juxtaposition of dissimilar stylistic spaces could very easily be diverted to a small or larger scribble.

On the other hand, enclosed gardens, like most Serials, predispose the visitor to an exploratory walk. And in this way, succeed to heightening his/her interest and adding variety to his/her choices.

Undoubtedly the creative use of the elements of enclosed and enclosure space, which are in total antithesis to the ubiquitous open spaces, such as the one occupied by the central area of the lawn, create one of the project’s most intense conceptual and spatial antitheses.

But it is also because of these antitheses that the sense of harmony runs far and wide in Parc Andre Citroen.

… It is at the narrative level that it sometimes failing.

Inside the Golden Garden
Inside the Golden Garden

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Golden Garden

The Golden Garden is the first to come across the hard-working walker, having his/her front to the Seine. If in doubt, he/she only has to take a look at the metallic signage of the garden. Because in each Serial Garden are located metallic signages for a good cause: to inform the visitor about the garden names and their symbolic associations.

So he/she will learn that the Golden Garden is associated with gold (Or), the sun (Soleil), golden color (Doré), Sunday (Dimanche), water evaporation (apvaporation De l’Eau), and the sixth sensation (6e Sens).

As for plants, he/she will find that those who present or intensify the color sensation of the precious metal have a prominent position.

That is why the trees are dominated by the deciduous variety of Frisia Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’), whose foliage and with the help of light become gold, as does the foliage of the deciduous tree, of the Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos).

From the shrubs, he/she will notice the extensive use of the deciduous Weigela (Weigela dorata) and the glossy evergreen Box Honeysuckle, with its variety – name and indeed – Aurea, which means gold indeed (Lonicera nitida ‘Aurea’).

For herbaceous perennials he/she will be convinced that they are worthy of being represented by the shady Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) – an archangel who often behaves like a weed – with its beautiful yellow flower, which appears in May through June.

However, the element that will amaze the visitor of the Golden Garden is not its flora but its exquisitely designed postmodern Solar Clock: it is the only one in the world of its kind that is a Shadow Clock – a clock that’s not supposed to tell time.

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Silver Garden

Next to the Golden is the Silver Garden. By reading the well-known metallic signage, the visitor will be informed that the Silver Garden is associated with silver (Argent), moon (Lune), silver color (Argenté), Monday (Lundi), rivers (La rivière) and the sense of sight (Vue).

After looking at the garden, he/she will no doubt think that this is one of the very high aesthetic parts of Parc Andre Citroen. This is because both the hardscape and the softscape materials of this garden not only help to highlight the silver color but they also contribute in aesthetically perfect way.

The elevated ‘Japanese steps’ zigging path and the wooden walkways with straight boards, along with the corresponding texture, contrast the light-coloured gravel and thus protects the space from the monotony. The same goes for dark green plants in contrast to the plants of purely silver color. And furthermore, conceptually, the silver tone itself, while referring to Mediterranean landscape projects through a garden with clear Japanese references.

The plants of this paradoxical charming hybrid garden, which will welcome the visitor with the silver color of their foliage, are:

  • The ornamental Pear (Pyrus salicifolia)
  • The Purple Willow (Salix purpurea)
  • The Euphorbia (Euphorbia nickensis)
  • The Absinthe Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
  • The variety of Tree Wormwood ‘Powis Castle’ (Artemisia arborescens ‘Powis Castle’)
  • And the Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)
Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen - Red Garden
Red Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Red Garden

The visitor leaving the Silver will get in the Red Garden. There he/she will look carefully at the metallic signage reading how the Red Garden is associated with iron (Fer), Mars, red (Rouge), Tuesday (Mardi), waterfalls (La cascade) and the sense of taste ( Gout).

And he/she won’t believe his/her eyes.

Because, if the materials and plants of each Serial Garden are intended to contribute to the visual documentation of its name, then no matter how much effort he makes, only the sense of red will not be able to derive from this, in addition, non-enclosed space.

Unless of course if a subtle hint Fauvism escapes – that doesn’t escape, since there simply does not exist. All that exists is a surface of lawn surrounded by slightly pruned bushes and in the background a tall layout of a few redish-rosy rocks with dense vegetation.

The plant species that refer to the red color are unfortunately only two:

  • The slightly pruned shrubs of European Elder (Sambucus nigra)
  • And the perennial Rose Campion (Silene coronaria –  Lychnis coronaria)

The first surround the lawn and produce clusters of bright-red berries. The second is blooming in the summer when appears abundant red-magenta flowers.

The Water

It is more than certain, however, that the presence of the perennial plant called Alchemilla mollis will not go unnoticed by the visitor of the Red Garden.

Because the Alchemilla mollis belongs to the alchemical plants – hence the name of the genus. And what was the relation between the plant and the Alchemy?

Just the water.

From the surface of its leaves the Alchemists used the purest, as they believed, form of water. And using that form of water they converted metals to gold (by the well-known exceptionally successful results).

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Orange Garden

The visitor’s next stop will be in the Orange Garden, in front of the metallic signage. And reading the signage will learn that the Orange Garden is associated with the metal mercury (Mercure), the planet Hermes (Mercure), the orange color (Orange), the Wednesday (Mercredi), the creeks, (Le ruisseau) and the sense of touch (Toucher).

Here the visitor will notice that the plant material is arranged on either side of the extremely well designed path that crosses it. The path consists of a straight gray – cream surface, surrounded by a curved sloping gray pebble floor – reminiscent something of spilled mercury and Antoni Gaudí.

The visitor also will not overlook the color dimension of the Orange Garden backed by flowering plants that appears their flowers mostly during the summer.

These plants include the herbaceous perennial Foxtail Lily (Eremurus stenophyllus – syn. Eremurus bungei), the hybrid Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia x hybrida), as well as the rhizomatous herbaceous perennial Devil’s Paintbrush (Hieracium aurantiacum – syn. Pilosella aurantiaca).

Noteworthy is the presence of Reed Grass (Calamagrostis sp.), whose hairless narrow and elongated leaves and the light yellow inflorescences, which consists by clustered spikelets, add movement and ‘flow‘ to the space.

Looking at the Green Garden from the Path
Looking at the Green Garden from the Path

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Green Garden

Immediately after Orange, the tireless visitor to André Citroen Park’s Serial Gardens will meet the Green Garden. Right next to a simple structure reminiscent of a barrier to horse racing – apparently to prevent the (green) horses from easily jumping over and ran across the lawn that rolling behind – there is the informational metallic signage.

As the visitor reads, she/he will learn that the Green Garden is associated with the tin (Étain), the Jupiter, the green color (Vert), the Thursday (Jeudi), the spring water (La fontaine), and the sense of hearing (Ouïe).

Bearing in mind what is being written, the visitor will not long realize that this particular non-enclosed space comprises a slightly meandering and Greek P (Π) shaped path, which includes the lawn strip in its center, and two flower beds between the latter, giving to him/her the ability to walk around the garden in a circular character move.

And as she/he walks through the garden, he will agree that here the sense of green is ubiquitous and almost effortlessly natural.

And if anyone told him that such a garden does not need special study, she/he could answer that it is wrong. Because the Green Garden includes an extremely interesting and thoughtful selection of plants, with different behaviors, shapes and textures, that blend in perfectly with the character of the space.

The Quercus Ilex Tree

The Green Garden is dominated by Holly Oak (Quercus Ilex). Always green, having maintained its foliage all year, it frames and delimits the space and provides a permanent shade. And its hard, leathery leaves plays another interesting role: while rustle in the wind in a completely peculiar way, producing a distinct sound and stimulating the sense of hearing.

Other Plants

Beneath the Holly Oaks is the herbaceous perennial Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). It has large, incised and deeply lobed, very ornamental bright green leaves, and it is tolerant in half-shade. However, perhaps the most remarkable characteristic of this plant is that it is a monocarpic species. Monocarpic means that produce seeds ones in a few years, and its fruiting follows the plant’s death. In the case of Giant Hogweed new plants will grow in place of the seeds that have just threw.

In the same half-shade conditions have been planted the herbaceous perennial Goat’s Beard (Aruncus sylvester). The Goat’s Beard disappears in winter and arises again from the ground in the spring. It produces abundant cream-colored flowers, carrying on a panicle inflorescence, on the top of long stems. The flowers appears in mid-summer and completely cover the plant.

On the flower beds that lie between the path and the lawn, but even and elsewhere in the garden, there is the Chinese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) – perennial plant with rhizomes, arching folliage, which in late fall often turns attractive yellow to orange shades, and stunning silvery blossoms. Their blossoms appear in summer on loose terminal panicles and are preserved until winter along with dry leaves. In this way, the scenery acquires an interesting ‘dramatic’ depth.

Next to the Chinese Silver Grass, as in several other places of flower beds, are Hosta sieboldiana. They are rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial plants, with dense foliage, lost in winter, and have white bell-shaped summer flowers.

Two more species come to complement the space with their color tone: the herbaceous perennial Fringe Cups (Tellima grandiflora) and the exquisite Rose bush (Rosa viridiflora), which have common their green flowers.

Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen - The Fragrant Blue Garden
The Fragrant Blue Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Blue Garden

The Blue Garden, which lies at the junction of the long Diagonal Path with the path that passes in front of them, is the last of the Serial Gardens on the Seine side.

The ever-tireless visitor will once again consult the metallic signage, informing him that the Blue Garden is associated with copper (Cuivre), Venus (Vénus), blue (Bleu), Friday (Vendredi), rain (La pluie), and with the sense of smell, (Odorat).

What will make him special surprised here is both the ‘extroversion‘ of the space and the fragrances it emanates from the multitude of aromatic plants and phryganas.

However, what will literally leave him amazed is the unusual for this park numerous of benches.

And after sitting down on one of these – because while he is tireless, yet he knows that the experience of resting not even on the most advanced postmodern architectural targets conflict – she/he will then let his gaze wander, in the minimal designed black metal pergolas and the blue flowers.

…  It only remains for he/she to admit that the Parc Andre Citroen Blue Garden is indeed a project of high aesthetic.

The Pergolas

Pergolas form a Greek P (Π) on the perimeter of the Blue Garden. Their height is not constant, but follows the slope of the passageways who connect the path that passes in front of the gardens with the elevated peripheral path, to the north boundary of the park.

At the very center of the small side of the Greek P (Π), from the pergola droplets of water fall into a cavity carved on a square stone of a minimum height above ground level, that is, in a stone basin, reminiscent of the rain.

The same is achieved, but in a visually way, by the robust Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), this exquisite climbing, both when blooming, with its blue-purple hanging inflorescences and when fruiting, with its green hanging pods.

The Trees

Unlike Parc Andre Citroen’s first Serial Garden, the Golden Garden, which is almost completely covered by trees, the last of them, the Blue Garden, does not contain any. Planting here is done with climbing, shrubs, herbaceous, medicinal and bulbous plants, which are creatively exploited and produce a perfect aesthetic ensemble.

Aromatic Plants

As mentioned above, the Blue Garden contains several aromatic and medicinal plants.

One of them is the woody perennial shrub Common Sage (Salvia officinalis), as it is wider well known. It occupies various parts of the garden, and has a greyish green, strongly fragrant foliage. Aromatic also are its purple – violet flowers. They are produced in whorls on short, upright flower spikes, from June to August, and atract bees and butterflies.

Another strongly aromatic plant is the rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial Peppermint (Mentha × piperita), which has also been planted in a variety of locations, covering areas with its strong root, while presenting purple flowers from mid to late summer on thick spikes.

Flower Plants & Ground Covers

The Delphinum hybridum is a herbaceous perennial plant. It is one of those that support and intensify the sensation of blue, with its striking blossoms on erect inflorescences from spring to late summer.

Another category of Blue Garden plants includes species that function as ground covers.

These include Endres Cranesbill (Geranium endressii), which is a herbaceous perennial with a semi-evergreen foliage and a light pink summer bloom.

A ground cover plant is also the perennial herbaceous Lamb’s-ear (Stachys byzantina – syn. Stachys lanata), with a semi-evergreen silvery foliage and light pink-purple flowers, appearing on spike-like stems, at the end of spring to early summer.

Finally, it is worth mentioning in another species, the White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri – syn. Oenothera lindheimeri). This plant occurs in various places across the park and not only in the Blue Garden. It is a rhizomatous, semi-woody herbaceous and perennial plant, blooming continuously from May until almost mid October, sometimes and later, until the first frost. Plant’s flowers are pinkish white and appears on long inflorescences, that forced the flowering stems to slightly curved.

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Black Garden

The Black Garden is the seventh in six. It has no spatial relevance to the other Serials, and in order for the restful visitor to tour it, he must take the long Diagonal Path in a southerly direction.

On the contrary, for the ‘Kalliergeia‘ reader it is enough to click here to get there – in the special tribute we made to the The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen.

Both the visitor and the reader are presumed to be engrossed in the desire to know the Associations of this garden. That is why straight up we mention that the Black Garden is associated with the metal lead (Plomb), the planet Saturn, the Black color (Noir), the Saturday (Samedi), the Sea (La mer), and the instinct.

Of course, there is nothing left to emphasize unequivocally that the Black Garden is in no way related, according to its creators, to the level of medical services of the neighboring European Hospital ‘George Pompidou’ (Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou), nor is it to be associated in the postmodern foreseeable future.

The World's Only & One Shadow Solar Clock in the Golden Garden
The World's Only & One Shadow Solar Clock in the Golden Garden

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

The Delirium

Summarizing and repurposing all the what was stated, we could say now something especially serious: the Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen are undeniable at the center of its bipolar narrative dimension.

Thus, these narrative dipoles as materials and plants, nature and society, technocratic and poetic, real and imaginary, symbolic and essential, alchemy and science, are the ones that actually unfold in the visitor’s experience while passing from one Serial Garden to another.

However, bipolar pairs are so lively and so demanding that they finally invite him to stand and meditate on them for the time being – bringing him to an excusable embarrassment as a result of ignorance.

So it might not be a bad idea, for their protection, to be banned from entering those gardens of all those who would not have a postmodern postgraduate degree if not in Magic, at least in Augury or Applied Astrology.

But unless such a measure is taken, we cannot deny that bold visitors of any kind and age should continue to be oriented in the direction of endless research to discover, not of course, an out-of-date philosopher’s stone, but at least an inflated balloon, an unplanned hot-air balloon.

Even if it is necessary to reach the Sirius.

The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen

References

With flesh references begun, with References in the flesh will close this slightly extended article on ‘Kalliergeia‘, titled The Serial Gardens of Parc Andre Citroen: From August 1980 and London’s Earls Court, the Pink Floyd with their song In The Flesh.

Play Video
  1. Ayers, A. (2004). The Architecture of Paris: An Architectural Guide. Edition Axel Menges.
  2. Bayle, C. (1998). Une certaine idée de la ville. Urbanisme, (224), 68–77.
  3. Jencks, C. (2012). The Story of Post-Modernism: Five Decades of the Ironic, Iconic and Critical in Architecture. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  4. Racine, M., Provost, A., & Baridon, M. (2004). Allain Provost, landscape architect, Invented landscapes ’64-’04. Oostkamp : Stichting Kunstboek.
  5. Rocca, A. (2008). Planetary Gardens: The Landscape Architecture of Gilles Clément. Birkhauser.

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