The Scientific Gardener
Meet Richard, the head Gardener at Villa Thuret.
This beautiful Cap d’Antibes garden was created in 1857 by Gustave Thuret (1817-1875), a famous botanist. Richard has been the Head Gardener at Villa Thuret since 1997. Before coming to Villa Thuret he was working just outside Marseille, also as a gardener.
Did you always want to work with plants?
At 18 years old, after finishing school, I decided that I wanted to go on to study horticulture and gardening at college.
It was always a passion, I have always loved gardens. My father used to have a small garden where we lived so I used to see him working in his garden and I used to help him. This is where my passion started I guess.
What is your role here at Villa Thuret?
I am the head gardener and also the live In gardien. I am responsible for the maintenance of the gardens and the botanical collection and I also look after the properties here. It’s a very beautiful place to live.
I came here in 1997 for family reasons. Coincidentaly there was a competition for gardeners here at the villa which myself and many other gardening professionals entered. I was lucky enough to be selected as a finalist and offered the role of head gardener and gardien for Villa Thuret.
Before I came here to work I didn’t know Cap d’Antibes at all.. I knew of it and had visited the region before but never the Cap itself.
What do you love about your work here?
I love the variety of my work here. It’s interesting for me to work in a historic garden, its interesting because it’s not a fixed static garden it’s always changing. We have many varieties and species of plants and trees which we introduce from all over the world. The garden is constantly evolving here which I like. It’s interesting to observe plants and trees from all over the world and to put them here in aMediterranean climate to see how they adapt.
Being a gardener for private gardens can get quite repetitive and monotonous. You are doing the same thing week in, week out and it’s more about basic maintenance. The work doesn’t change much it’s just about the upkeep with little variety.
Here it isn’t that repetitive, of course there is the regular watering and pruning etc which has to be done daily but we also do Scientific tests for INRA and general inventory of the plants here. It’s much more about the science and research which I find very interesting. As well as maintaining them we also have to constantly monitor the plants. We regularly measure the trees diameter and height and we are always observing the plants and trees to evaluate how they react in this climate. I also love that the gardens here are always changing with the seasons. My work is never done but that is how it is when you work with nature.
When you are not working what do you do here?
I go deep water diving when I have free time as there are a few diving clubs here. This is something which is great to do around the Cap. Otherwise maybe I take a walk to the Phare.
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