Installed in the heart of the fields of fragrant plants traditionally cultivated in the Pays de Grasse, the Gardens of the International Museum of Perfumery are part of the territorial project led by the urban community Pôle Azur Provence. Open since 2010, they safeguard the heritage of the region thanks to a formidable team of gardeners, led by Christophe Mège.
Tell us about your background…
At first, I am not a gardener at all! I studied English at university and worked in catering for a long time. Little satisfied with my professional situation, and after a skills assessment, I undertook a landscaping training. In this context, I entered as an intern at the Bastide du Parfumeur, which has now become these famous Gardens of the International Museum of Perfumery, and I never left. I was lucky. And I realize, today, with hindsight, that I could have missed this vocation. Because deep down, I always dreamed of doing this job.
What can you find in the MIP gardens?
The gardens revolve around two main orientations. On the one hand, a conservatory, where the agricultural landscape is reproduced as faithfully as possible. The idea is to present a traditional garden where we cultivate the emblematic plants of the Pays de Grasse such as the centifolia rose, the iris, the tuberose or even the jasmine. We thus find this countryside spirit thanks to a full field culture, like the methods of the time. On the other, we have the olfactory route, composed of several plots representing the different notes of perfumes. Imagined by perfumers, this route introduces the public to minty, woody, spicy, floral, fruity, aromatic, citrus, and many other scents ...
How does the work and the development of a course like this translate?
My main mission is above all to enrich this collection. But beyond my role as a gardener, I had to learn about plants, their fragrances and even a certain vocabulary ... I must always find a place for the plant in accordance with the note to which it corresponds, but also compose the garden in depending on volumes and colors. It is a global reflection that requires a lot of investment, and which thus allows to keep a harmony, a coherence.
The JMIP have a real desire to make discover the world of gardening, do you also play a teaching role?
Indeed, we are in great demand, and we must be available to answer all questions. At least one gardener must be present on site during the day. Also, we organize a guided tour on Saturday focused on gardening. We exchange our know-how. It's a very important part of the job. But I also learn a lot. We have very experienced visitors, perfumers but also farmers with whom I share advice and tips throughout the year.
The museum is committed to the Bird Protection League, what does this imply on the ground?
It is above all a question of intervening in a thoughtful way on the garden. We define the ideal moment for the size of the plants. On the ground, the use of the tiller is limited. And we maintain this organic integrity, valid for both flora and local fauna. We also leave some plots fallow, to allow wildlife to develop. For example, we created the dragonfly pond in 2012. Originally artificial, it has since been colonized. These quiet spaces thus preserve this biodiversity and it works, because there are people! All information on the website: //www.museesdegrasse.com/