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Diane's Garden

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She knows how the nocturnal flowers move as they open at nightfall. She can predict rain in the quivering flowers, and loves the pale early morning hours, “when the colours are subdued. At that time, the garden does not dictate. Visitors can decide their own colours, thoughts, or nothing at all,” says Diane Koënig, who manages the gardens of the five Beachcomber resorts on the north of the island.

“Landscape gardener? That’s too sophisticated. I’m a gardener,” says Diane Koënig, born in Curepipe in 1969. “I began this adventure seventeen years ago, without any special training. I don’t know how to draw plans or sketches. My pencil is the tip of my shoe,” she says, with a twinkle in her green eyes.


Senses awake
By listening to what her heart tells her, and by following her intuition, she has designed the forty-five hectare garden of the Trou aux Biches resort, and renovated the beautifully-tended Royal Palm garden, or the Canonnier gardens, steeped in history.

“I walk for hours, I take in the energy of the place, the beauty of what is already there. Here, I imagine a forest of palm trees, there, the lines converging by the lagoon, here, a cool stopping place in the shade of a tecoma. My design takes in the plants as much as the sea and the sky, the light and the wind. Like an impressionist painting, I proceed by little touches,” she says with the humility of those who are where they belong. “I don’t make a garden for its own sake, but to attract the eye and offer a little peace and quiet.”



Diane has a special fondness for foliage, and plays with the shapes, textures, colours and scents of leaves. Her landscapes are almost monochromes, where palettes of greens and whites prevail, with here and there a few splashes of garnet lighting up in the sun.



Groves of lilies, beds of tradescantia, bouquets of cordyline, hedges of latania and dictyosperma, the hurricane palm. “Each garden covers an infinite variety of spaces and identities which match the architecture, both natural and human.” It spreads indoors too: in the reception halls or the patios adjoining the bathrooms, on the terraces or on the edge of the tiled pools, which open out onto the landscape. The opposite also occurs: the architecture nestles in the surrounding nature, as in the Canonnier Spa, perched high in the aerial roots of a huge banyan tree.


Landscape, miror of soul

Each of the island’s eight resorts has beautiful parks and gardens, sprouted from earth or drained marshland. “It is the product of the work of our entire team. There are currently over a hundred and ten Beachcomber artisan gardeners,” Diane proudly states. “My biggest challenge has been to bring a dying occupation back to its former glory, to give these forgotten men and women confidence and to reunite a courageous team. We share a common aesthetic now which makes each group responsible for its little parcel of land completely independent.”



When you see her at work with each of her team members you understand the depth of her feelings. “You can’t do this job without loving the earth as much as you love people, starting with the people you work with. More than just a job, it’s an accomplishment for them, for me, and therefore, I hope so, for the visitors.”



Just go with the flow. The garden takes you by the hand as soon as you arrive. It guides you benevolently towards what you do not yet know. We wend our way; we follow the curves and detours along the sandy path which inevitably lead to the queen of the island, the Indian Ocean. This evening in the Canonnier garden, the wind has dropped. Everything seems to have been here forever. The lagoon follows the shore; black stones show on the water’s surface, the latanier palm trees stand like sentinels, guarding the eternity of this place.