Born in Enghien, Belgium, and educated at the University of Louvain, Parmentier practiced horticulture and landscape design as an avocation until financial hardship caused him to immigrate to the U.S. in 1824. The following year, he established a nursery in Brooklyn, New York.
One of the earliest practitioners of the art of landscape gardening in America, Parmentier was instrumental in bringing the European picturesque style to American landscape design, publishing the essay Landscapes and Picturesque Gardens in 1828. His work was admired by Andrew Jackson Downing who remarked on its significance in his A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening.
The designs by Parmentier which have been documented are his own "horticultural garden" or nursery in Brooklyn, New York; the estate of Elisha W. King in Pelham Manor, New York; the estate of Dr. David Hosack, Hyde Park, New York; the grounds of King's College (now the University of Toronto), Toronto; and Moss Park, the estate of William Allan, Toronto. Of these, only the Hosack property, now the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, survives.