Mon Dieu! Chief gardener lets Versailles run wild

07/31/2008 | Guardian (London), The

To the horror of traditionalists, Alain Baraton is pushing the formal gardens of Versailles into the 21st Century. As head gardener at the palace from which Louis XIV ruled France, Baraton has created insect-friendly habitat and even let grass grow tall on some of the famously manicured lawns. This has made him a cult hero to organic gardeners, but he has infuriated classicists by messing with flowerbeds that saw nothing but begonias for 100 years. "Now there are all kinds of flowers in all kinds of colours," he says. "People said to me: 'how dare you?'"

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