Entries from March 2016

Signs of Spring

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…

Giverny opens on March 25th

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.


Gardens of Awe and Folly

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!