Looking through the 556 pictures of my bicycling in the Loire valley I decided to break apart a multi- faceted trip into small stories —otherwise I could be accused of doing the longest blog post in the history of posting and probably bore you all to death in the process. I don’t want this to take on the tiresome aspect of looking through the boring “how I spent my family vacation” photos. That said I know many of you are aware of or have seen renaissance garden at Villandry but as it had been at least 20 years since I was last there I wanted to share some of my new insights about this famous place.
While I am a “flower girl”at heart I also have a great affection for the vegetable garden or as the French call it the “potager”. I have such fond memories of going to the kitchen garden with my grandmother Beaty and I have always felt a tremendous sense of well being and self sufficiency, when I am in my own garden “patch”. I followed the simple layout of rows of plants just as had been done at my grandmothers farm but after seeing Villandry, I looked at that type of garden in a very different way…vegetables and fruits needed no longer to be in regimental rows but could form designs and patterns that could be as elaborate as any grand parterre or English flower border. Now while I have a scant 1/2 acre of “edible garden “and Villandry is massive, I started trying to design with my veggies and herbs, mixing them with flowers creating my own tapestry of a vegetable garden.
It was lovely to return to that wonderful garden and to have the good fortune to go through it with the grandson of the man who recreated and also reinterpreted the original concept of the renaissance garden. What was really exciting and something I had not done before was to go with Henri Cavello on to the roof top of the chateau and see Villandry from that perspective —a totally different experience from merely seeing it at eye level. I could go into the history of the place but it is easy to look up on line and I shall merely tell you about my experience in the garden. Most renaissance gardens have three levels often the lowest level is the potager representing the earthly appetite moving up to the second tier of parterres which represents forms of courtly love and the topmost level the water garden dedicated to the spirit or the soul. To this third level Henri has worked with the landscape gardener Louis Benech to create two new gardens I only have photos of the Garden of the Sun ( can’t seem to find the other garden). At the center of sun garden is a lovely water basin that looks a bit like a radiating sun and then all the plantings are in shades of oranges, yellows and chartreuse. Very pretty and a nice addition to the strict formality of the rest of the garden.
Hope you enjoyed Villandry coming next another beautiful garden and then next weeks preparations for a summer dinner at Weatherstone