Alexandre de Vogüé in an interview with Le Figaro has said that due to fungal disease & box tree caterpillars, the boxwood in the two southern flower beds at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte (Seine-et-Marne) will be removed. This follows years of struggling to maintain the plants to a presentable standard for the 300,000 annual visitors.
It’s thought that around 70% of the box has died due to disease, attack and poor soil quality. Following a meeting of the scientific committee in December 2017 it was decided the the low box hedging should be removed in January 2019. However, the Vogüé family aren’t going to rush to replace the box, but will instead wait 5 years to see what alternative plant solutions or effective organic treatments become available to fight the disease & pests. It will also give them time to raise the roughly 2 million euros needed to do the work. During the 5 years that the beds are empty, “an ephemeral work” will be installed and creators have been asked to submit ideas with a maximum budget of 200,000€.
The removal of the beds not only opens debate on the replacement plant types, but also the design. Should it be laid out to the original drawings of the “turqueries” made by Le Nôtre between 1656-1661 and recorded in a 1680 survey and turfed over a century later or the current 1923 design from landscape architect Achille Duchêne. In the Le Figaro’s interview Alexandre de Vogüé, who manages the estate with his two brothers, Ascanio and Jean-Charles, says
For the moment, the majority opinion within our family is to restore the initial aspect of the seventeenth century, which corresponds to the golden age of Vaux-le-Vicomte, but nothing is decided yet. In any case, we will have to obtain the approval of the National Commission for Historic Monuments”.