(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

une jardinière.

This is one of the ways I want to spend my days in Brantôme. Becoming a gardener. I have a great space to work with. One of the things that inspired me during one of my early visits to France was a visit to the gardens of Villandry. Villandry is a Chateau from the 1500s, located in the Loire Valley. The original gardens were destroyed in the 19th century. It took a Spaniard, Dr. Joachim Carvallo and his American wife, Ann Coleman, to save Villandry's gardens. He bought the property in 1906, and restored the gardens to their original beauty.

When I visited, I learned that the gardens produce massive amounts of fruits and vegetables, harvested every year. My favorite part of the property was the mid-level garden, where you'll find the garden of love, the music garden, the veg garden and my favorite of favorites ... the herb garden. All of the gardens are breathtaking.

Its interesting to me that I am drawn to both French and English gardens because, in my mind, they are so vastly different. When I think of French gardens, I think of formality. Of control and neatness and rigid designs. Espalier. Topiaries. When I think of English gardens, I think of masses of wild flowers, climbing roses and cutting gardens. Now I know that the English have formal gardens and French do flowers ... these are just my uneducated impressions. I hope to spend time learning more. And experimenting with combinations of both designs.

My home in Brantôme has a smaller courtyard on the first lot and a larger open space on the second lot. I'd like to do a more formal area in the courtyard with crushed granite or rock of some sort. Experimenting with some of the geometric aspects preferred by the French. Topiary. Fountain. Seating.

And in the larger space, a more relaxed setting. An area of edibles (fruits, veg) and herbs. Espalier. I have tried my hand at pear. My espaliered pear tree I have pictured bears 2 varieties of pears. I've just learned that fig is suitable for espalier! My french dreams have always included a fig tree. I have an expanse of wall in the bigger lot that I am anxious to try. And there are grapes as well, not a vineyard but surrounding a small sun room. Pond perhaps.

At some point in the future, we envision a pool on the big lot. But we'll see. I'm looking forward to getting there and getting going. And writing about it.


La Belette Rouge said...

I am not a gardener, nor do I think I ever will be, but I admire those who are. And, I am sure your garden will be lovely if perhaps not as grand as grand as the gardens of Villandry.

Your house sounds lovely. And, I am sure your gardening skills will make it even more beautiful. I am looking forward to reading about your gardening adventures. I am off to go and Google Brantôme. I don't know where that is.

Je ne regrette rien said...

LBR-thanks! I added some links to earlier posts about my new home, to make it a bit easier. There's one to a slide show that includes my house.

La Belette Rouge said...

Thanks for the lead. I am off to see if I can find it.:-)

Allison said...

What I want to know is, are you expanding your gardening interests to include COOKING?? I still remember my favorite trip to visit my then boyfriend's mom who had retired to Provence. The plum, pear and apricot trees on their property meant delectable jams etc. And veg from the garden, mmm yum!

We can't wait for you to get going either, and writing about it.

Anonymous said...

That is quite the garden in the first picture. Frankly, I have a hard time with house plants and the hedge in my yard needs, well, TLC. I don't want to do it. I can't even imagine trimming the likes of that maze of a garden. Wow.

Je ne regrette rien said...

Allison-I love to cook and that will come, eventually. My house needs a new kitchen ... so I'm arriving with a 2 burner hot plate and an electric teakettle to get me by!

FOT-If you are ever near Villandry, it is a must see. That pic is just a slice of the total gardens. I skipped the chateau for more time wandering the grounds. I'm not wanting to be a slave to my garden, so this will serve more as inspiration as opposed to reality!

Diane said...

We had a fig tree in the back of one of our homes when I was a kid. Loved it! The fruit, the folliage...amazing!

I've never had much luck gardening myself but I always like having a few fresh herbs growing for my kitchen.

I can't wait to see what you do! I'm so excited for you Kim. :-)

Je ne regrette rien said...

aww di, thanks bunches!