Burnett James describes how in the 1920s Ravel was
preoccupied with decorating "Le Belvédère" [his house] and in laying out the garden with many small exotic plants and miniature Japanese trees. To see that house and garden today is to experience a feeling of direct contact with Ravel. He deliberately made it an accurate reflection of himself, a tangible extension of his personality and character. To see it and absorb its atmosphere is to come closer to understanding what he meant when he retorted, on hearing a repetition of the charge that his music was "artificial": "Has it never occurred to them that I may be artificial by nature?"
James, Burnett (1983) Ravel: His Live and Times. Kent: Midas Books, p.92-3.