Thursday, 24 May 2012

More from Monet

Inevitably the garden fell into disrepair after Monet died in 1926, running aground without the bloodhound-like zeal of its creator and captain. Monet’s son Michel inherited the place, but was more likely to be found on safari blasting a blunderbuss than amongst the borders, trowel in hand! Thankfully Michel had the good sense to bequeath Giverny to France through the Academie de Beaux-Artes, which took ownership when he died in 1966. A chap named Gerald van der Kemp then entered the fray, already famous for restoring the Palace of Versailles and crucially finding the donations to fund this endeavour. He expanded the Versailles Foundation to include Giverny, and set about restoring the place and securing funding through his wealthy upper crust connections. The garden was in a terrible state at this time and had to essentially be re-built from scratch, with Van der Kemp overseeing the restoration and planting. I note that he is described on the charge sheet as ‘garden enthusiast’, rather than ‘gardener’, but nevertheless the old boy chalked up a phenomenal planting plan that enabled Giverny in 1980 to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Since then it would not be overstating things to say the place has been something of a success, with a modest 600,000 people visiting last year alone! This success is not unwarranted, as it is a magnificent garden tucked away in this truly beautiful corner of France.

The Grand Allee, looking away from the house

The Aubretia edging is beautiful on this scale and of course good for the old butterflies

Endless joy to be had looking up and across these narrow borders

Splashes of Anemone coronaria pop up here and there, a glorious specimen

In the foreground is the fading Tulipa ‘Jacqueline’, and the red T. ‘Keukenhof’ is behind floating over white forget-me-nots

White combination in the paint box beds, or ‘Les Tombes’ as the gardeners call them on account of their grave-like dimensions

More of that splendid white mix in the shaded bed by the house!

A delightful mix of colours and forms, with the Iris finally rolling into town

Iris x hollandica, the Dutch iris

Papaver nudicaule ‘Wonderland’ which is seen flowering all about the place

The view from Monet’s bedroom! The rose seen on the arch is Rosa ‘Mermaid’ which was Monet’s favourite

Areas of lawn provide something of a visual break from the relentless colour, but also harbour fruit trees, roses and drifts of Iris

The Grand Allee looking back towards the house, with the first of the Eremurus preparing to steal the show!

Grand Allee detail, with Geranium tuberosum drifting through white forget-me-not

More of these scarabaeid characters, wasting no time on a freshly opened Iris bloom

The Water Garden forms the second part of Monet’s garden, and the centre of attention here is this Japanese style bridge

Famously, the Water Garden became Monet’s obsession in his later years and provided the inspiration for his ‘Nympheas’, the water lily paintings that focused on this body of water and its blooms and reflections. At the time of the Armistice Monet offered the water-lily panels he was working on to France as a, ‘bouquet of flowers for peace and unity regained’. I travelled up to the Musee de L’Orangerie to see these panels and can report they are breathtaking!

Towards the final days of my trip the Wisteria that smothers the bridge finally erupted, glory days!

The final photograph I took of this wonderful place, to which I will certainly be returning to witness the summer display!


Barry Parker said...

I've been looking for ideas for companion plants for Geranium malviflora ( another tuberous form). So glad to see this lovely association.

Michael B. Gordon said...

These photographs are wonderful, Bertie. It was so nice bumping into you at Hidcote last week!

Prue said...

White forget-me-not with Geranium tuberosum looks spectacular. I didn't know there was a white forget-me-not! Must have!!! :)

Thanks for more photos, Bertie. The wisteria looks grand. I hope you have many more visits to this beautiful garden in years to come, so you can see it in every season.

600,000 visitors a year is huge! I hope it's a large garden otherwise visiting in summer will be like playing sardines :D

Anonymous said...

Absolutely stunning. Your photo reminded me that I purchased seed for the white Forget-me-nots, they are still in my seed cabinet. Hope they keep till next spring ;o/

Wife, Mother, Gardener said...

How fun! You are a lucky fellow! I suppose trading the irises for the wisteria was worthwhile :)

The Grand Allee planting is mesmerizing. I Really like the how the color just drifts into the distance in the borders. And mounding the garden is so effective in heavily herbaceous areas. Great stuff!

Kaveh Maguire said...

Great tour and history. I remember when I first started gardening I got a Giverny calendar and one of the things I remembered the most was the Aubrieta bordering the paths.

Janet said...

Lovely photos( meant to say how much I liked the photos of the centaurea in the last post) and so much colour. The colour must have looked so different to Monet before he had his cataract operation.

sally said...

Wow! nice work, Bertie old boy. i'm tres jel. x

PatioPatch said...

Awesome words and images, carefully chosen to inform and inspire. Welcome back but it must have been difficult to tear yourself away.

Jordan Jackson said...

I've really enjoyed seeing these photos. Thanks so much!

The Green Lady said...

Being well familiar with the paintings I've always been curious to see Monet's gardens. Isn't it fantastic that someone has cared enough to find the funding to keep this incredible place alive. I agree with Monet's sentiments about loving the earth more than art; a garden is a living painting that is continually changing every second; fun to try and capture, but so much more rewarding to just be in. Great write up and photos thanks Bertie! x

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely post and visit to Giverny...imagine how inspired he might have been living among the great English gardens!!

gardenenvy said...

I had the great fortune to visit Giverny, probably my favorite garden. It was such a pleasure to find these posts and be able to visit again! Gorgeous post. Jeannine

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