Gardens to Visit in the NW of France
If I was choosing an area to visit in France purely on the basis of the gardens to visit it would be the North West of France. The gentle climate and regular rainfall in this part of France has allowed the development of some really fabulous gardens.
Monet’s garden at Giverny
Most famous of them all is undoubtedly Monet’s garden at Giverny. Made famous by Monet’s superb paintings of his lily pond and Japanese style bridge we all know what to expect of a visit to Giverny. However there is much more than the lily pond to see, beautiful as it is. Monet also used his sense of colour and perspective to create some fabulous plant borders. These are laid out in front of his house in a formal grid pattern and are a riot of colour all year round.
Whilst the water garden really is strikingly beautiful my favourite gardens in the area are: La Petite Rochelle, Les Jardins de la Mansoniere, Les Jardins de Castillon and Les Jardins de Kerdalo.
La Petite Rochelle
This garden won first prize in 2006 in the best park in France competition run each year by Briggs and Stratton. The garden contains a series of garden rooms each with a different colour theme. The garden covers a hectare in total and contains a collection of daphnes and a collection of pieris. One of the notable features of this garden is its all year round interest starting with hellebores, camellias and a variety of bulbs in the winter, a wonderful selection of rhododendrons and azaleas in the spring, lilies, agapanthus and roses in the summer and asters providing masses of colour in the autumn. In addition to these there are a large number of rare and interesting plants collected from all over Europe.
Les Jardins de la Mansoniere
These gardens have just won fifth prize in the 2007 best park in France competition. Within the garden are nine differently themed gardens including the ‘garden of perfume’ and the ‘garden of the moon’. The perfumed garden has something to offer throughout the year with daphnes and viburnum in winter, hyacinths and violets in spring, lavender and carnations in summer and roses in autumn. If you are looking for ways to bring scent into your own garden this is a great source of ideas. This garden is also located close to the beautiful village of Saint Ceneri de Gerei.
Les Jardins de Castillon
One of the highlights in this garden is its fabulous water garden which has a veritable jungle of large-leaved moisture-loving plants such as gunnera and hostas. There is also a grasses garden, very fashionable these days and rightly so for the movement and all year round interest they bring to the garden, and a wonderful large ‘English-style border’. This garden won third prize for the best park in France competition 2005.
Les Jardins de Kerdalo
Designed by Prince Peter Wolkonsky this garden won the best park in France 2004 prize. Indeed this large garden has the reputation of being one of the best gardens created in Europe since the second world war.
The garden visit starts in front of the beautiful stone manor house and slopes down past a wonderful grotto to the banks of the River Jaudy. Prince Wolkonsky was a plants man and the garden abounds in rare plants and shrubs and the variety here is tremendous.