In Brumath in Alsace, Michelle Schneider has made her property a multicultural setting where it is good to stroll. As passionate about art as gardening, this "Articulatrice" with a contagious good humor opened the doors of her domain, classified as a remarkable garden.
Why did you name your domain "Jardin de l'Escalier"?
When I decided to open the garden to the public, it was only natural for me to take the name of my old painter's gallery. It was all the better since one of the main buildings has a magnificent staircase in front!
How did you get the passion for the garden?
I started gardening when I moved to Brumath, alongside my painter activity. But I was terribly torn between the desire to create in my workshop and that of being outdoors to garden! So I had to make a choice. When I understood that I could transform my domain into a work of art in its own right, I didn't ask myself any more questions! Today, I garden to express what is in me, but also to put art every day in the heart of the garden.
Your property has evolved a lot since you acquired it ... Can you tell us about the different stages of its transformation?
The garden initially extended over a limited space around the house. We quickly enlarged it by buying the seven neighboring orchards the year of our installation. A long work of clearing followed, at the end of which I started to cultivate an organic vegetable garden. Very inspired by that of the medieval garden of Orsan, I managed to reproduce the large cultivable squares, surrounded by braided chestnut gaulettes. I have invested in the other plots over the years, including an orchard, an observatory, a Zen garden and a space dedicated to Mediterranean plants.
How did you manage to link together exterior styles that were so different from each other?
Before embarking on the different plantations, I started by drawing the whole plot so that it was as coherent as it was aesthetic. I have partitioned the area into rooms, so that there is a visual break for the visitor when he moves from one space to another. I opted for wood as a common thread, because it is a material that I particularly like, and which recalls the past of the place! The old carpentry of the village, which we later transformed into an exhibition and reception room, is in fact on the estate of which it is an integral part.
The Garden of the Staircase is today a multifaceted cultural place…
It is true that we have diversified a lot over the years ... Besides visits to the garden, we organize exhibitions several times a year in our art gallery. A few years ago, we also opened a gîte and guest rooms as well as a gourmet and creative table. It is important to be able to sit around a drink or a meal to better appreciate the atmosphere of the place ... My table is open throughout the summer season, and occasionally in winter: I take great pleasure in cooking for my passing guests!
Finally, what are the plants and gardens that inspire you?
I am in love with Japan and its culture, so my preferences naturally go towards Asian plants such as shiso or niwaki, which I love to cut Japanese style. But I also appreciate the plants of our terroirs such as nasturtiums, which remind me of my childhood, angelica, hollyhock ... And I give a lot of space to aromatics, which divinely perfume the garden! In terms of gardens, the visit to the priory of Orsan was a real revelation for me, as was that of the Zen garden of Erik Borja. This landscaper was able to perfectly understand the subtleties of the Japanese garden, which he beautifully stages. More info on //www.a-lescalier.com/