Annabelle hydrangeas are about to bloom again at Lur Garden. Apparently fragile, its radiant white pompoms and lime green heart will illuminate the edge of the meadow for yet another summer, multiplying in the reflection of the pond. In this circular pool with perfect geometry, every day, at dusk, the gardener and landscape designer Iñigo Segurola —the creator of this unclassifiable garden in a deep valley in Oiartzun, in Gipuzkoa— immerses himself in a healing bath in water that never fades. corrupts. Delirium, mysticism and an energy in perfect balance are the laws that govern this captivating universe that is Lur Garden.
On the first visit to Lur Garden, Segurola arrived late for the meeting. Popular face for his media coverage of the long-lived and successful program Bricomaniawhich was on the air for more than 25 years, appeared from among a grove of discsonia antarctica —some Jurassic ferns as big as trees— with flip flops and muddy feet. Plethoric, with an exultant smile, because early in the morning he already had dinner. In his shirt, which he held in a bundle, the host carried half a dozen freshly picked mushrooms. The giant ferns, the mud, the wild mushrooms… There could not have been a better preamble to the visit. It was as if nature, in gratitude, returned to Segurola everything he had given her with Lur.
a garden of gardens
Lur Garden is a microcosm of 20,000 square meters to which the landscaper and gardener has dedicated his body and soul for the last decade of his life. What he began as a kind of test bench to test the adaptation of different horticultural species, as well as a workshop to stage concepts for garden design, soon became an obsession. In an addiction In a possession In your food. “When I bought this plot, it was all grassland,” says Segurola. An expanse of grasses dotted with puffins (Lythrum loosestrife), wild carrots (Daucus carota) and other grasses. On a sleepless night, the landscaper sketched the plan: a garden made up of small themed gardens. The design is based on the declination of the ellipse, which in different scales and in a fractal way orders the space.
It is impossible to quantify all the species that inhabit Lur Garden. The most striking ones —because they are unusual, captivating, extravagant or unexpected— remain etched in the retina. Ferns, horsetails, mosses, water lilies, lotuses, hydrangeas, rice paper trees, elephant ears, banana trees, papyrus, giant rhubarbs, sumacs, agapanthus, spireas stormy trees, maples, poppy poppies, tea roses… There is a giant sequoia that has become an involuntary focal point from the deepest part of the valley. The meadow-roofed greenhouse houses an exotic collection of succulents, cacti and succulents. More than 1,800 beech trees form the hedges that delimit the spaces and configure the ellipses of the 16 themed gardens. Sometimes you don’t know where to look.
The rebirth of the perennials
Anyone who has made a garden or orchard from scratch knows that planting, sowing, cutting, germinating seeds, dividing bushes and layering are the only possible ways. Segurola has put them all into practice with scientific thoroughness. “There was no collection that would satisfy me,” she recalls of his most obsessive stage in the gestation of the garden. Of all the series of plants with which he has experimented, the perennials stand out, those herbaceous perennials —so fashionable in contemporary landscaping— that dry up in winter and sprout again in spring. The Dutchman Piet Oudolf is the greatest exponent of this trend, known as New perennials, that puts the accent on feral compositions in technicolor. Segurola was also seduced by the plastic versatility of perennials. Tulbaghias, carnations, phlox, echinaceas, achiras, salvias, daylily, astilbes… “The colour, textures and shapes of perennials and the interactions between all of these have been my research object”, he admits.
In the trial-error process that has been to shape this aesthetic experiment, Segurola confesses to “a kind of midwife who has been there assisting, caring, giving attention.” She says she feels that she has “completed something that she already was”. Converting that “energy of thousands of years” into Lur Garden “has been like raising dependent quintuplets in absolute solitude”, jokes the landscape architect. “Besides, a garden never turns 18 years old. It is never emancipated. It catches you forever”
It catches you forever and ever, no matter the season. Because from the vibrant floral orgy of spring to the stillness of misty and frosty winters; from the intoxication of ochres, reds and yellows in autumn to the multicolored effervescence of hydrangeas in summer, all seasons display a Lur Garden in full. Low seasons do not exist in this garden that proclaims the greatness of each moment of the life cycle of the plant kingdom. Lur surrenders to the future, giving each season its importance and intensely recreating in all of them.
Stone, metal, sky, water: the power of the inert
Staggered blooms, amoebas drawn in the meadow by mowing, frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, nooks that make the garden reinvent itself as you walk through it, unexpected fog banks, plants that defy the human scale… Every detail works wonders scenographic that Lur Garden is new, unique and different every day. Scattered here and there, an old gate, a solitary wooden bench, some rusty bistro chairs, a wrought iron table and four colossal slabs of Igeldo sandstone coexist as found objects and inert structures, supporting the plantations and offering a static counterpoint to the overwhelming floral dynamism.
In the Jardín del Espejo, an overflowing pond 25 meters long, the sky is clearly reflected and “arranges it at the height of mortals for their enjoyment and calm”, explains Segurola. This large ellipse-shaped sheet of water —one of the most virtuoso contributions to the garden— betrays the exquisite technical training of Segurola (a graduate in Landscape Architecture from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and a master’s degree in Landscape Planning and Design from the University of Wagheningen in the Netherlands), even though he claims to be a humble gardener. A large flower bed of herbaceous plants unfolds around the pond, providing interest and surprise throughout the year. Rudbeckias, crocosmias, and daylilies—the lively ones again—challenge in yellow, white, and orange a melancholy marsh cypress.
Iñigo Segurola’s Lur Garden in Gipuzkoa will be studied in landscaping schools as Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst in Kent County, Sylvie and Patrick Quibe’s Le Jardin Plume in Normandy, Claude Monet’s pictorial Eden in Normandy are studied today. Giverny or the Gardens of Santa Clotilde de Rubió i Tudurí in Girona. A nursery of beauty. A living experiment, eternally mutable. A botanical and aesthetic event. A vegetal metaverse ―and 100% analogue― only suitable for beauty addicts.
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