The Fairies of the Garden

June 17, 2015


As early as 7 o’clock in the morning, the fairies are at work in Monet’s gardens. Young volunteers carefully take away the wilted flowers to keep the garden full of beautiful blossoms. Climbing roses are reached thanks to secateurs with long handles that need some practice and a lot of attention. The volunteers also have many other tasks to do. Here is Hillary Bernhardt, who was kind enough to answer a few questions:

Do you like this work?

Yes, very much. It’s very special to be able to work in Monet’s garden for a month.  I have the opportunity to see how the flowers change in the garden as we take certain flowers out and put new ones in or as new ones pop out of the ground.  I feel lucky to be able to soak in the garden’s beauty each day.  Additionally, I love the opportunity to visit the garden after hours.  It is sometimes challenging to be working outside all day, but I am thankful for the opportunity.

What made you want to apply?

I knew previous students from Davidson College who had completed the internship and they had all loved the experience.  It’s a great way to practice speaking the French language, experience French culture, and explore the region on weekends.  It’s also an excellent way to reflect on one’s life and journey thus far.  As I’m working in the garden or going on bike rides in the area, I have the space to think about what has been meaningful in my life so far and what I would like to do in the future.

How is the atmosphere?

Working in the garden is fun!  I enjoy talking to the tourists, especially when I’m able to practice French with them.  Many of them ask me for the names of the flowers, but usually they know more of the names than I do!  Also it has been enjoyable getting to know the professional gardeners, who really make the magic happen in the garden.  I’ve enjoyed joking around with them as I have gotten to know them better.

The Rose Arches

June 13, 2015


Over the main alley that crosses Monet’s garden, the climbing roses display their tender colors in June.

Their pink and red match the pretty colors of the annual poppies scattered everywhere in the flower beds.

(click to enlarge)

The Rose Garden

June 10, 2015


I hope I will live long enough to experience the time when computers will manage to send fragrances. It would be so nice to be able to share the scents of Giverny. The roses are in full bloom, and their delicate perfume fills in the air. In the water garden, it mingles with the sweet scent of honey suckle, creating a very girly combination, the kind of fragrance I loved to wear as a teenager. I wonder if the teenagers of today still like it. But I see everyday how ladies love smelling flowers. To get most of a peony or an iris, the best is to put one’s nose in the petals. It is so good it gets addictive. Is this a feminine gesture, as a female visitor suggested it to me? I remember a photo of Georges Clemenceau smelling a rose. The Tiger himself! With such an example, gentlemen should feel free to indulge in this pleasure.

The First Studio

August 29, 2013

The large window of Monet’s first studio at Giverny looks like an eye scrutinizing the flowers of the garden in order to paint them.

It opens onto the little rose garden, a corner that is rarely explored by the visitors of Giverny.

See two posts below the view from the inside, giving the illusion of a painting.


Roses Everywhere

June 26, 2012

Just an idea of the profusion of roses blooming in June at Giverny!

For a few weeks, Monet’s garden becomes a rose garden.

Rambling, climbing roses climb on dozens of metallic structures, typical for a garden designed in the 19th Century.

Pretty Pink Poppies

June 7, 2012

After the yellow and orange Iceland poppies, and the enormous red perennial Chinese poppies, it is now time for the lovely pink annual poppies.

Each year, when they pull the dried ones out of the ground, the gardeners scatter the seeds in the flower beds. They grow everywhere, and they turn the garden into a pink fairy for a few days.

The eremurus, also known as fox tails, create an interesting contrast with their vertical shape.

They are topped by the climbing roses, at their best in June.

Standard Roses

June 13, 2011

Standard roses are one of the beauties of Giverny.

As tall as trees, they measure over 2 meters and they offer their pink blossom like enormous bouquets.

Rose trees are generally not strong enough to resist wind, so they are grown on metallic structures that look like umbrellas or mushrooms, according to your imagination. Some people call them weeping roses, that’s really too sad.

In Monet’s flower garden, they tower over big bunches of peonies and large flower beds of pink and red poppies.

Lavender Dream

July 19, 2009

A purple bush rose frames the big window of Monet’s first studio at Giverny.

Purple roses are not very common, nor look very natural, but they provide a strong impact. This one has a sweet name: lavender dream. It is lovely in springtime when it flowers in numerous small simple roses.

It is too late now for roses, but it is the right time to see -and smell- lavender in bloom at Giverny, as a slight reminiscence to Provence. It perfumes the air, together with phlox and lilies.

Wild Rose

November 14, 2008

Now that all the wild roses are spent, their lovely berries shine in the morning mist.

The dog roses grow everywhere in the area of Giverny, on road sides, on the bushy hills, turning the countryside into a giant garden when they are in bloom in springtime.

Rose Garden

June 6, 2008

Monet’s garden at Giverny is full of roses.

It is not a proper rose garden, for there are also many other sorts of flowers, but nonetheless it is gorgeous in May and June when the roses are in bloom.

They are everywhere, weeping from the umbrella like structures, climbing on trellises, on fences, on trees, on the facade of the house, wrapped around tripods, in bunches, or among peonies and sweet rocket in the mixed borders…

All sorts of colors can be seen, pale cream, pure white, soft yellow, many pinks, red, orange… Not all of them are simple roses but many are scented. Light and delight.

Simple Rose

June 2, 2008

Claude Monet preferred simple roses, with one row of petals instead of more complicated double roses.

Double flowers with many petals seemed too sophisticated for his garden located 80 km from Paris in the small village of Giverny, in the middle of the countryside.

Simple roses look like the wild ones which are currently in bloom in the fields.

In the same range of ideas Monet didn’t consider all the wild flowers like weed. He accepted many of them among the cultivated ones. They give sort of a countryside touch to his flower garden.