Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Meeting the Owner at Villandry

This summer one of our clients was landscape gardener Sue Pearlstine from Several Seasons. She requested 5 days of nothing but gardens and that's just what we designed for her. Wherever possible we arranged for her to meet the owners or the gardeners too.

At Villandry, Henri Carvallo, from the third generation of his family to run this world famous garden, was kind enough to give us half an hour of his time. He explained that the garden is entirely self-supporting, with entry fees covering the cost of salaries and garden upkeep. This is testimony to just how popular the gardens are, but also to how good a manager he is. He learnt entirely by watching his father and grandfather and by working with the team of 9 dedicated gardeners all his life. It is extremely rare for an historic site like this to receive no government grants at all, but Monsieur Carvallo says he no longer applies for them as the place earns enough not to need them. He also mentioned that he has recently been invited to join an advisory committee at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Not only can he pass on his expertise to American colleagues, but he confided that in return he hopes to pick up tips to improve Villandry's already excellent customer service, as this an area in which he believes that America excels.

It was a real privilege to be given these insights into managing such an influential garden, and we are very grateful to Monsieur Carvallo for his generosity and openness. Sue appreciated the extra effort that we went to in order to create a tour that fulfilled a lifetime dream and if you are interested in a tour that gives you more than the standard tourist visits email us and we can work with you to design your exclusive tour.