Another one of the amazing gardens I visited with my family this past May was Monet's garden in Giverny, France. Giverny is a small village northwest of Paris, not far from the banks of the Seine. Monet moved here in the 1890's, creating his beautiful garden and a studio in which to paint it. Monet's house is quaint but unremarkable on the outside.
but the view from inside the garden is spectacular. I love the way the house is covered with vines. Most people would be terrified to do that.
The garden is divided into two separate parts by the Chemin du Roy, a road that runs outside the village. It would have been easy to cross the road in the days of horse and buggy, but now it's quite a barrier (click on the photo below to see a larger view of the plan).
Close to the house are amazing perennial borders and arbors arranged in a rigid geometry of rectangular beds, more utilitarian than formal in feel. Throughout the garden are many rose and clematis-covered trellises which help to create an unbelievably lush atmosphere.
Here's another view where you can see the main axis of arching arbors crossing the path that leads from the entrance of the house. I wish I had been there a little later in the day - the sun was directly above making it hard to get photos that weren't washed out.
The gardens near the house were in full bloom , overflowing with loads of irises, alliums, foxglove and phlox.
We weren't allowed to take any interior shots of the inside, but here's the view of the garden from Monet's bedroom. Imagine waking up to this every day!
Of course, there were loads of photographers there. This guy is really working to get that perfect shot.
To get to the other side of the garden visitor's have to walk through a tunnel under the Chemin du Roy. Coming out from the tunnel, you emerge into beautifully pastoral landscape surrounding a large river fed pond that Monet constructed.
This is the part of the garden that was famously painted by Monet. It's interesting that his studio (below) was in the other half of the garden, close to the house. He couldn't actually look out from the studio to paint the garden, it had to be done from studies and memory (and a bit of imagination).
It was a bit early for water lilies, but there were a couple in bloom. You may notice patches of white floating in the garden - the nearby poplars were releasing their fluffy seeds. They were so thick in the air it almost seemed like it was snowing.
Here is the wisteria covered bridge that is featured in many of Monet's paintings.
This half of the garden was filled with blooming rhododendrons as well as roses, viburnum and meadowrue (below).
Unfortunately, I eventually had to get back on the road - so many other gardens to see! But before leaving I took a walk to the to the church at the top of the village. Monet is buried in the graveyard there with several of his family members.
In Paris I got to complete the artistic circle and see a beautiful collection of Monet's garden paintings. Not far from the main part of the Louvre is the Musee de l'Orangerie, which was the old orangery for the Tuileries Palace. This building was converted into an especially designed showcase for a series of Monet's paintings known as the Nympeas (the genus of water lilies).
The main floor of the museum is divided into two large oval rooms, each featuring four paintings which wrap around the rooms. The more cerebral setting of the museum really changes one's impression of Monet's garden. It becomes more about the idea of a garden, rather than a specific physical place.
But even in this rarefied environment you'll find a distracting tourist striving to get the perfect shot (Hi mom!)