Thursday, 21 March 2013

Glorious Gardens

If you are a garden enthusiast you will have been enjoying Monty Don's French Gardens from the BBC lately (and if you haven't seen it, we recommend it!). The French are famous for their gardens, and typically, they approach it like an art form. It's important that the garden is both functional, producing as much fresh food as possible, but it must also look fabulous.

It is no wonder that the best known garden in France is here in the Loire Valley, where you can grow almost anything. Villandry has established a benchmark for beautiful, productive gardens, but there are many others worthy of the garden loving visitors time. Chaumont hosts an annual themed garden festival, full of quirky details and practical design ideas. Patrick Blanc has installed one of his marvellous living walls in the stable block there, and other garden artists enliven the park with their work.

Chenonceau doesn't heavily promote its gardens, but they are magnificent, and provide the restaurant with much of its fresh produce and the interior of the chateau with stupendous flower arrangements.

It's not just the grand estates who garden in this artistic style either. Along the river at Amboise are the jardins familiaux, allotments tended by local people, and full of clever homemade ideas for getting the best out of a kitchen garden, whilst all the while feeding the eye with their meticulous arrangement of plants and objects.

If you are a gardener and have been inspired by scenes of the gardens in France in books and on the television, email us. We'd be delighted to work with you to design a tour so you can see French gardens for yourself, and maybe even talk to the gardeners. And remember, we are still offering tours at last year's prices to anyone who books and pays in full by the end of March.