Gilles Clément: “The field has become dangerous, what we plant is full of poisons”

At the Versailles School of Landscaping, Gilles Clément —77 years old — teaches what not to do. Although he prefers to define himself as a gardener – because he always works with living things and a landscaper can use materials such as concrete – he is also a widely translated essayist and horticultural engineer. Author of the garden of the Museum of the Quai Branly, he has devised orchards in Switzerland, Chile, Paris or Lille with one characteristic in common: the low maintenance and the horticultural mix that saves lots of species from the disappearance. Wrote Manifesto of the third landscape —The one that gets lost in the open fields and, nevertheless, saves vegetation in danger of extinction— and coined the terms “garden in motion” —the one that the birds sow— and “garden of resistance” —the one that hardly needs care— . A brief history of the garden (like all, published by Gustavo Gili) is his most autobiographical title, and in which he reveals how he learned walking around the world. In Cameroon, looking for butterflies, he discovered an unlisted one that today bears his name: Buneopsis clement. In addition to the garden he planted to experiment where he was born, in Argenton-sur-Creuse, 300 kilometers from Paris, Clément has a studio in an old carpentry shop in the Saint-Antoine district of Paris. He himself reformed it with skylights so that the sun could reach the plants. He explains, in the excellent Spanish he learned in Latin America, that to take care of them he must get on the piano.

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