December 06, 2008

Jules Senis, Le jardin de Rosa Mir / Rosa Mir's Garden

pictures (2011) courtesy of Simon Turner

In general art environments are rarely located in an urban area. But here is an exception: the garden of Rosa Mir, created by Jules Senis, which is located in the midst of the urban area of Lyon, France.

Life and works

Jules Senis (1913-1983), a mason by profession, because of the Franco regime migrated in 1947 from Spain to France, to settle in 1951 with his family in Lyon.

Hospitalized because of a serious illness, he made the promise that if he would recover, he would create a beautiful garden in honor of his mother, Rosa Mir Mercader.

Jules Senis recovered indeed and in 1957 he began arranging the garden, which is located in the midst of blocks of houses.

He constructed pillars and arcades, which he abundantly decorated with shells.

Working with vertical columns like Senis did, triggers associations with the Moorish architecture in Andalusia in southern Spain, which is also characterized by many interconnected columns. It might be that Senis has been inspired by, for example, the Alhambra, the well known Spanish monument.

The garden has nice flowers and plants, like roses and lavender, which when blooming evoke a Mediterranean atmosphere. 

The garden also has a shrine with a small statue of the Holy Virgin.

Senis has been working on this project for twenty years, from 1957 until 1977. Some months before he died, in 1983, he was informed that the city of  Lyon in the future would take care of the garden. .

An association of friends

To ensure the continuity of the garden, in 1983 an association of friends was formed. Nowadays they focus upon its promotion by organizing events, editing a website and managing a page on Facebook.

The site is cared for by the city

From 1987 on the garden is actually being cared for by the city of Lyon. It has become a monument historique.

Closed in 2011, the site reopened in June 2016 

For safety reasons in 2011 the garden was closed for the public. In August 2015 the renovation started and on June 25, 2016, after ten months of work, the garden was reopened. The large upper bassins have been filled with plants and to the other parts of the garden some 5000 plants, imported from the Mediterranean, have been added.

* Article (November 1997) by Jeanine Rivais
* Article on SPACES website (2012)
* Website Outsider Art in France with a page about the garden
* Article with a series of pictures (September 2020) by Gloria Marchini on website Outsider Art Now

* The internet has a number of videos of this site, look here
* Here is a short one, shot when the garden had reopened by BFM Lyon (June 2016, YouTube, 1'35")

first published December 2008, last revised February 2022

Jules Senis
Le jardin de Rosa Mir
87 Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse
69004 Lyon, region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France
open for the public Saturdays 14-18 hrs, from early april until end November 
more info for visitors also on the website of the city of Lyon

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