by Ariane ~ July 4, 2016
The birds are not the only ones that sing at Giverny. Today I heard a gentleman whistling a melody in the tunnel leading to the water garden. It was so on key and sounded so well that every body stopped to listen.
A bit later, a little girl sitting under the weeping willow hummed a nursery rhyme. A group of teenagers “that had been singing in the coach all the way from Paris to Giverny” according to their teacher continued in Monet’s gardens with all the good old hits of the Eighties they knew.
And then, the smiles. I love to see how people look happy when they come back from standing on the Japanese bridge, after they have realized that they are there, for real.
And all the bright smiles visitors have for the camera. The funny poses they strike.
I too must smile at the school children on a day trip that yell, super excited: “Here are the water lilies! We found them!”
I share the exhilaration of keen gardeners looking at all the botanical marvels of Giverny. I can feel the concentration of the artists sitting on benches and drawing.
Why is Giverny so popular? Because it is the perfect place to feel a perfect moment of joie de vivre!
by Ariane ~ June 21, 2016
Thanks to Louise, the fairies that fly in Monet’s gardens at Giverny can be seen at last. Look at this handsome little guy reflecting into Monet’s water lily pond… It is no problem to walk on the water as long as you’ve got dragonfly wings and a magic wand! (click to enlarge and see all the lovely details).
Louise sent me a few of these adorable works she’s done using my photos of Monet’s garden as a background. I love the delicate and sensitive way she peoples the garden with airy little beings. If you want to see more of them, please write a comment.
Edit of 27 June 2016
Thank you for your comment, Carol, here you are!
by Ariane ~ June 16, 2016
In June, all the water lilies flower on Monet’s pond, beautiful and delicate corollas in different tones of pink and soft yellow or white.
The foxgloves stand out everywhere in the garden, like giant sentinels that tower far above our heads.
The long lasting columbines team with other small flowers like geums and catchfly to offer a light foam of little dots of color. Elsewhere, annual poppies turn the garden pink or red.
June is the month of roses. At Giverny they stand or climb on dozens of metallic structures or on fences. Their scent is a delight…
by Ariane ~ June 10, 2016
In the cemetery of Giverny, a grave indicated by British flags stands out. “These seven air men fell and were buried together”, it says. Seven plaques with a personal sentence remember their names. These young men were flying a Lancaster that was hit by the DCA and fell in the fields not far from the Seine river, the day after D-Day (7th June 1944). A photo taken probably shortly before they died shows them all.
The tomb is much visited. People leave stones, or flowers like the paper poppies. On June 7, two English ladies had decided to pay these soldiers a tribute by leaving a hand written message on the grave. “On this, the 72nd anniversary of the loss of you all, such brave and such young men, it is due to your sacrifice and others like you that we are free today. Thank you. We come here to remember you and to pay tribute. From Deux Anglaises.”
by Ariane ~ May 15, 2016
After tulips, what kind of flowers steel the show at Giverny? Among my favorite are aquilegias, for their delicacy, strange shapes and wide range of colors including white and black, yellow and blue, and pink. Their light foliage is a beauty.
Camassias are late spring bulbs that grow rather tall.
Pink tree peonies are short lasting little wonders,
just like this one that looks more modern.
Irises are just starting.
The vines are at their best. Here the wisterias over the Japanese footbridge,
And the Clematis montana covering the trellises in the flower garden.
by Ariane ~ April 30, 2016
In late April, Monet’s flower garden at Giverny shimmers of the colors of thousands of tulips and other spring bulbs. Used like little dots of paint on a canvas, their planting is so subtle that it combines mass effect and delicacy.
The Grand Alley sports patches of fresh colors.
The ‘paint-box’ aligns little beds of pure colors side by side, like tubes of paint in an artist box. The result is a rainbow framed by the trellis.
Delicate, dainty? Forget-me-not needs some popping red in order not to look twee.
On the western side of the flower garden, rows of tulips recall the tulips fields in Holland that Monet loved and painted. The colors chosen for this side of the garden are those of sunset: yellow, orange and red.
by Ariane ~ April 21, 2016
A stroll through the village of Giverny leads you very soon to unbeaten paths. In the tranquility of streets that few visitors dare explore, little wonders await the passer by.
I like the loving care taken to decorate this window. The curtain is made out of an antique tablecloth, a rather ingenuous upcycling, for who still uses tablecloths like this one?
The little pompom daisies in their vintage terracotta planter add just the perfect amount of freshness and spring flair. I like their simplicity.
by Ariane ~ April 15, 2016
There are no water lilies yet, but their pads don’t loose a minute to look picturesque…
by Ariane ~ April 6, 2016
Did you ever try and grow a hyacinth in your kitchen? If so, you certainly remember how fragrant a single bulb is. So imagine being seated on this green bench in Monet’s garden, wrapped by the scent of hundreds of hyacinths… This is an early April rapture at Giverny.
The brand of the bench, le banc idéal – the ideal bench – has nothing to do with the floral wonders of Giverny. But it sounds appropriate, doesn’t it?
by Ariane ~ March 20, 2016
The season has officially changed today! To celebrate the arrival of spring, let’s take a walk in Monet’s gardens at Giverny to look for the very first flowers. So far they concentrate in the best exposed borders. As soon as the weather gets a bit warmer, there will be flowers and colors all over the garden, turning the blank sheet into a joyful painting. (click to enlarge the pictures)
Small jonquils line the feet of the espaliered apple trees, and clumps of daffodils flower next to the chickens cage. It is lovely to see them coming back year after year. I’ve heard they can live for over fifty years!
Daisies bloom for Easter, this is why they are called pâquerettes in French, Pâques being Easter. The wild ones love growing into the lawns that they illuminate like little white lights. Horticulturist have improved them to these cute pink or white pompoms. Giverny’s gardeners plant them everywhere in the spring garden. Well, not absolutely everywhere, and certainly not anywhere. In all the places where they fit and match.
Just out of the winter, flowers are small. They didn’t have much time to grow a long stem, or perhaps it is warmer next to the ground, I don’t know. It is time to bend down to admire the little marvels offered by the season before they disappear under more impressive giants. These are the lovely ipheions, also named Spring starflowers – for obvious reasons. At Giverny they can be found next to the left staircase of the Monet house.
In the water garden, some beds combining pansies, daisies and hyacinths are already quite sweet. I suspect these early hyacinths to be purposely forgotten bulbs of last year. Their scent is a delight. The gardeners plant bulbs at different times, they also plant many different varieties to obtain the longest possible blooming time.
And last but not least, this little dwarf tulip opening its petals is enjoying the first ray of sunshine. Tulips will be at their best in five to six weeks, in all shapes and colors. Giverny has an enormous display of tulips of all kinds. An absolutely beautiful tulip show. Late April is one of my favorite times in the garden… followed by several others…
by Ariane ~ March 15, 2016
Although the water garden designed by Claude Monet still looks very peaceful, everybody is working hard at Giverny. The Fondation Monet (his home and gardens) as well as the Musee des Impressionnismes Giverny reopen in ten days, on Friday, 25th March. It is earlier than normally, because Easter is especially early this year.
Just out of the Winter, the gardens are not overloaded with flowers, yet pleasant to walk around. They look fresh and shiny. The first signs of Spring can be noticed. Jonquils are already out, illuminating special spots with their bright yellow. I took the picture above this afternoon.
The Musée des Impressionnismes will display an exhibition of works by Gustave Caillebotte. This hugely talented impressionist was a keen horticulturist. His garden and rare flowers were among his favorite motifs.
by Ariane ~ March 6, 2016
I’m not used to reviewing books on this blog, but I need to make an exception for the newly published Gardens of Awe and Folly by Vivian Swift (Bloomsbury). It is the kind of book that puts a smile on your face when you look at it on the coffee table. The book that you want to re-read as soon as you’ve finished it. Humorous, imaginative, poetic, tender, insightful, and absolutely beautiful because of the many lovely watercolors by the author.
Vivian Swift made her very personal selection of gardens that matter to her and tells stories about them. As she puts it, “If all you ask of a garden is What?, then all you’ll probably get in reply is a planting list. But ask, instead, Why? How? When? and, most of all, Who? and then you’re in for a nice, long conversation. This book is a collection of the conversations I’ve had with nine gardens that had a lot to say.”
For an idea of chapter one, you can have a look at Vivian Swift’s blog. You will see how much she loves Paris… If you browse to older posts, you will learn more about Vivian’s next project: a book on Giverny, especially on how to paint Giverny. She makes it sound so easy and fun!
by Ariane ~ February 20, 2016
This is not the winter we are having at Giverny this year. The last time Monet’s water lily pond looked that way was in 2012.
It was so beautiful then! I roamed in the gorgeous yet closed garden and couldn’t look and shoot enough.
The landscape turned white is not that frequent at Giverny. Although we do get a few flakes every winter and a few nights of frost, generally the weather is more humid than cold. It is overcast, it rains, but not cats and dogs, only kittens and puppies, you know.
Patience. All this will soon be over. Fondation Claude Monet opens rain or shine on March 25, 2016, and the seven-month flower show wil be more beautiful than ever.
by Ariane ~ January 29, 2016
Once a week, on Thursdays at 6.00 pm, a mass is celebrated in the church of Giverny. Everybody is most welcome, especially tourists, even if they are not Catholics, even if they don’t speak French, as long as they are respectful.
Expect locals to smile at you with some curiosity in the eyes. They are eager to know who you are and where you are from, but won’t ask.
The mass starts soon after the old bells stop chiming. There are two of them, a little one that has a high sound and a big one that is lower.
If you are like me, you will prefer not to sit on the first row of chairs, to mimic the faithfuls who know when to stand up or sit down. It feels good to be among them, because churches are not monuments only. Their stones retain all the faith of the humans who built them and prayed in them. The parishioners of today are their beating heart.
by Ariane ~ January 15, 2016
This is big and good news at Giverny: a bakery has opened! It is located in the main street rue Claude Monet in the direction to the church on number 73 Bis.
The last one closed decades ago, so it is a joy to see a bakery again in this little village of 500 inhabitants.
Nothing means life in a village more than a bakery and a school.
The bakery’s name, Au coin du pain’tre, is a pun. Au coin du pain would mean To the Bread’s Corner, but with an additional ‘tre ‘ it reads To the Painter’s corner, an allusion to the painting destiny of Giverny. Logically, the shop sign is in the shape of a palette. Artisan boulanger means that breads and pastries are home made.
When the museums are open, so is also the bakery, 7 days a week from 7.00 am to 8.00 pm. The bakery is established in a lofty shop that used to be successively a garage for renting 2CV cars, an antiques shop, and lately a restaurant. There is room enough for tables and a nice walled terrace, where the Coin du pain’tre also serves light meals.