Walk Through Landscape Designer Paolo Pejrone’s Happy Gardens

For half a century, Italy’s elite and tastemakers the world over have turned to Paolo Pejrone to create happy, harmonious gardens. Today the 76-year-old landscape designer shows no sign of slowing down.

Paolo Pejrone remembers the moment when his life took an irrevocable turn. It was January 8, 1970, at around four o’clock in the afternoon, and Pejrone—then an architect in his late 20s—was visiting the Turin home of Gianni and Marella Agnelli. The couple were family acquaintances, and though he didn’t know them ­personally, the eager young aesthete had ­accepted a teatime invitation in the hope of being introduced to Marella and her houseguest, legendary British landscape designer Russell Page. “I met them both at the same moment,” recalls Pejrone, still pinching himself over having encountered his greatest patron and his greatest teacher in a single afternoon. “That conversation changed my life.”

Over the past half-century, Pejrone has done anything but squander his good fortune. Now 76 and an esteemed landscape designer himself, he’s created some 800 gardens across Europe for clients ranging from the Agnellis to Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti to Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan—even, he reveals, “for the joy of Pope Benedict.” His new book Private Italian Gardens (Mondadori Electa) ­highlights this illustrious past, but it can barely hint at the future: Pejrone is busier than ever, tending to a grand estate on Capri, a Renzo Piano–designed hospital in Bologna, and a historic plot near Piazza San Marco in Venice.

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