J'Adore: The Gardens of Versailles

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week learning to “Think Different.”  My daily life and business strategies have been dictated by the need to “do something” and “do it fast”.  The technology forces dictating my response are out of my control, leaving me to complain in gloom and doom, or get clever to find a solution.

Alain Baraton has a far large life assignment than mine. Monsieur Baraton is charged with maintaining the magnificant gardens of Versailles. At the same time that French farmers in Lyon seek to preserve agricultural/horticultural patterns that are centuries old, Alain Baraton is defying the traditionalists and turning his back on centuries of horticultural practice.

Life in the land of Sun King fountains and Marie Antoinette fountains is under assault. The culprit: climate change.

Fooled by the mild temperatures, the chestnut trees are flowering twice a year and losing their glorious autumnal glow as a result. The pine trees that have lined the park’s avenues since the reign of Louis XIV are dying in unprecedented numbers. Last year saw so much rain that the lawns didn’t have to be mowed once.

Monsieur Baraton is not a newbie to Versailles. He’s walked the 2000 acres since 1976, thinking of ways to outsmart devastating environmental forces. One of his most controversial decisions — to ban insecticides in the park — brought the birds back to Versailles.

Lured by the prospect of juicy worms to eat, birds returned to Versailles.

“It’s wonderful,” says Baraton. “There are a lot more big birds, the green woodpecker for instance. We’ve seen the return of the tit, which is a fabulously beautiful little bird, of sparrows and, above all, of swallows. They had disappeared. Now, they’re back.”Read more about Baraton’s scandalous “Think Different Approach” to horticulture online. And enjoy this beautiful two-art video about Versailles.

Reading the article, I’m drawn back to my one and only visit to Versailles.

It was a gorgeous September afternoon, and I remember this handsome French man sitting on a bench near the begonia beds …