[oqeygallery id=21]If you want to visit Monet’s Garden when you are in France, and what garden tourist doesn’t, don’t plan to day trip out from Paris. It’s worth the trouble to rent a car and drive to Normandy for a couple of days. You may save enough in hotel rates to pay for the car. But more importantly, you can also visit some of the other excellent public gardens that Normandy offers. Although it doesn’t have the same sense of art history, which is arguing apples and oranges to some extent, Clos du Coudray , in my opinion, surpasses Monet’s Garden in its horticultural importance and at least equals it in design impact. The owners take pride in being completely organic. It’s also a working nursery, so new discoveries are showcased next to old favorites.
Plantings are laid out in different “garden rooms”. One of the things that I like about this garden is that the design goes far beyond the simple three parts that can be found so often in France (formal, informal and near-wild). The rose garden is one of the best I’ve seen at integrating roses with other plantings for a long season of beauty, even in shaded spots. It’s much more than a rose garden really. It is the most formal of the gardens with straight paths and squared off design elements. All of my favorites are used in one garden or another: iris, peonies and dahlias. And I fell in love with a birch tree, betula costata, that I’ve named Betts. Located near a huge stand of gunnera in a shaded area, her tender, light bronze branches arching gracefully over a bed of hosta create a sunny spot.
In the pictures, notice the loving attention to the details of color and shape, how they complement each other in the plantings. It always amazes me that people can imagine these things and then use plants to create the vision.
Follow this link to look at the history of the garden. There are three pictures in the middle of the page, clicking on them will take you to pictures and descriptions of the owners reconstruction of the building, the development of the garden and the extension of the garden. It is in French but most browsers will translate for you. It’s worth looking at the pictures, in any case.