Garden, which is located on the outskirts of Menton,
was laid out by its first owner, Lawrence Johnston, in 1924. Johnston,
who had already created a garden in England, Hidcote Manor, took
over various horticultural plots and gradually converted them into
a highly personal garden comprising a remarkable collection of plants.
After his death, the garden had a series of different owners, who
maintained it with varying degrees of respect for the original structure
and design. The threat of it falling into the hands of property
developers eventually led to its being listed as a protected site.
In 1999 the Conservatoire du Littoral (government agency for the
protection of the coastline) purchased the property and entrusted
it with the municipal authorities, which in turn delegated management
to the Association for the Protection and Enhancement of Serre de
la Madone Garden.
This preliminary study, commissioned by the Regional Directorate
for Cultural Affairs, concerns the Garden as a whole and follows
on from a study carried out in 1992 by Jean Claude Yvan Yarmola,
head architect for Historic Monuments , in collaboration with the
botanist Pierre Augé and landscape designers Arnaud Maurières
and Eric Ossart.
At the same time the engineering firm PROFIL 1 was commissioned
to carry out a study on the supply networks.
A study by the Gatier agency on the restoration of the enclosed
and covered parts of the various houses in the property was submitted
The study has several objectives:
l to specify the nature of the landscape before Johnston's involvement,
to identify the flora and water supply characteristics of the site
and to understand how it functions,
l to determine how Johnston reused and harnessed the site's potential
to his design,
l to attempt to situate the garden in the context of contemporary
l to identify the garden's different sections and situate them in
terms of the property as a whole.
To attain these objectives the study combined fieldwork with research
on various archive documents, both public and private.
The restoration project takes account of information gathered from
the historical study and from analysis of the present state of the
site and how it has been adapted to current use.
This project seeks to preserve the characteristics of Johnston's
design, which involved converting several distinct plots into a
single garden consisting of different entities with specific and
It includes restoring or preserving certain architectural structures
and plant compositions in the state desired by Johnston. The water
supply system, a vital component of the garden, will be restored
by prioritising the collection of run-off rain water and the water
resource supplied by the channel at the bottom of the garden.
Any alterations which have distorted the composition of the garden,
the car parks at the top and the bottom and the Japanese garden,
will be removed and the terraces will be restored to their original
To meet the operational needs of the Association which is responsible
for the Garden, consideration was given to the establishment of
a service area to house the equipment necessary for maintenance
and to ways of ensuring deliveries to the house without using the
The problem of the stability of the land around the houses, closely
linked to the problem of water flow management, caused us to propose
that the former terraces should be consolidated and securely shored
The recent landslips following the heavy rains in September, October
and November have confirmed the importance of restoring the former
water management structures, though such restoration must be preceded
by a study on the stability of the soil in the light of the damage
that has occurred.
Finally, the question of what names should be given to the various
areas was tackled. It is an interesting question as it touches on
the desires of the designer. Unfortunately, the only information
available from Johnston's time is very patchy. The current names
for the various areas vary according to author.
Study of certain illustrations has helped to redefine some of them