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)

Purple and Blue Harmonies

May 19, 2015


Mid-May, in Monet’s gardens the last tulips that were so colorful are followed by blue and purple flowers: flouncy irises and ball shaped alliums.

Both exist in all sorts of tones from pale to intense.

When planting them, the gardeners pay great attention to their variety, trying not to have two same flowers side by side.

Although they are so numerous, they never produce a mass effect but keep a very natural look, that makes all the charm of Giverny.

This Extraordinary Spring Glow

April 11, 2015


In April, as soon as the sun shines, Monet’s garden radiates. The colors are brighter than ever. Greens are vibrant. Red tulips flame in their complementary color. All the upside down bells of the bulb flowers resemble shiny laterns that have just been switched on.

What is the reason therefore? A freshly washed air, cool enough not to contain any haze? Or is it due to the height of the sun? I don’t know. But it is properly amazing and special to early spring. The glow of April makes you want to come out in the garden, to paint and to photograph.

Opening: 28 March 2015

March 22, 2015


Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny will open next week on Saturday, the 28th of March 2015. If you plan to explore Monet’s place that early  in the season, this is more or less what you can expect. The above pic was taken last year on the 2nd of April.

It is an effect I like and that doesn’t last for a long time, daffodils making bouquets on the fresh green lawn. Their planting recalls the way the water lilies float on the surface of the pond in Monet’s water garden.

In April it is still possible to look over the rose bushes planted all around this patch of lawn. Very soon leaves pop out, the border thickens and hides the lawn behind. In the meanwhile, the daffodils will have faded, so we will be only too happy not to see them anymore…


Eranthis or Winter Aconite

March 11, 2015

eranthis.jpgThe first sunny days are warming up the soil of Giverny. In Monet’s gardens, the bravest flowers are popping out, most of them discreetly. Their bright petals make little dots of colors on the still bare ground. Pansies, snowdrops, crocuses, dwarf tulips and the first jonquils are a joy to look at. Among all these planted flowers, the eranthis impress by the carpets they make. Winter aconites are able to cover a curve of the pond bank, a nice place that will soon be shaded by tall trees.

The eranthis is in a hurry because it needs to bloom, go to seeds and renew its food storage in its bulb in no time, that is to say before the leaves of the trees over it become too big. When the sun can’t shine through anymore, the leaves of the eranthis dry up and die. But not the plant itself! Life is stored underground, waiting patiently for three seasons to pass. Then, in February, the new shoots of eranthis appear, followed by the lovely yellow flowers in March, like miniature suns emerging from an interesting foliage. But with this plant the motto is ‘love it… and leave it alone’ because it is poisonous, just like the common aconite.

The Early Spring Garden

January 20, 2015

giverny-windowThis is what Claude Monet could see when he gazed through his bedroom’s window in April. Last year spring was very early and the first colors were already there at the opening of the garden. Wallflowers make a striking effect combined with tulips, while daffodils and jonquils form islands of white and yellow flowers on the lawns. In the distance, the tall trees of the water garden don’t have any leaves yet. It is just a matter of days.

Purple Harmony

January 15, 2014

Late May or early June, Monet’s garden turns mostly purple. On the pond banks, mauve ladies’ rocket matching exactly the big rhododendrum  on the other side of the path combines with mauve or blue lupines, pink sweet Williams, white fox gloves and blue sages. The mauve turns progressively into pink to fit with the beautiful tree of roses. This scene doesn’t last long, but it is of great effect. It follows the bulbs period and will be followed by summer flowers. (click for more details)

Impressionist Spring Colors

November 23, 2012

While Giverny is closed for the winter, the gardeners of Fondation Monet are busier than ever. They are getting Monet’s gardens ready for next spring. After pulling out the annuals and cutting the perennials down to ground, they prepare the soil and start the planting. Thousands of bulbs must be planted as soon as possible, preferably before frost.

The beds in front of Monet’s home obey the same color schemes every year. Enormous tulips in different shades of pink combine with blue forget-me-not. The trick is to choose a palette of tones ranging from apricot to mauve to obtain an illusion of brushstrokes. The effect lasts longer than expected because early and late blooming tulips are used together.  A row of dianthus surrounds the beds.

Next to these most impressive pink tulip beds, a border made with different kinds of yellow wallflowers  offers a strong contrast in terms of color, size and shape. This border located under the pink blossom of three crab apple trees is partly shaded. Mauve blue bells scattered among the wall flowers produce an effect of shade and sunshine. The border is lined by white daisies. Last spring the gardeners added white tulips, for a very fresh result.


June 11, 2012

Next to the first studio of Claude Monet at Giverny, the white waterfall of a beautiful philadelphus offers a dramatic show.

It faces the little rose garden, just perfect by now.

A bench nested at its feet is a nice place where to have a rest after meandering in the alleys.

If the wind blows, it will let fall a shower of white petals on the visitors seated below.

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.

Giverny at Iris Time

May 24, 2012

The question of the ‘best time’ to come to see Monet’s gardens at Giverny is hard to answer. Many times are so beautiful!

The iris period is one of my favorite. The irises are just at their peak right now, displaying their charms in waves of white and purple petals in Monet’s flower garden.

I love the irises, but I love the spectacular tulips as well, the fresh blossoms of early spring, the poppies time, the roses, the gorgeous summer flowers including Nympheas and nasturtiums, the asters of autumn…

When is it the best time to see Monet’s gardens? There are so many, one visit is not enough, you must come back!


Translucent Flowers

April 30, 2012

purple-tulipsTulips spread their colors these weeks at Giverny. It is one of the times of year when the monet garden is at its brightest. The big colorful heads stand side by side, being planted tight, undisturbed by any leaves, that are much lower.

Tulips have the ability of looking thick and massive in direct or mute light, and totally different as soon as the sun shines through their petals. Then, in late afternoon for instance, they become delicate and light, they seem to loose any weight and dance in the breeze.

Pink Tulip Beds

April 8, 2012

giverny-houseIn April, the pink facade of Monet’s house in Giverny responds to huge beds of pink tulips in front of the main entrance.

To create a shimmering effect, several varieties of pink tulips are planted, some redder, pinker or even orange, to resemble Monet’s brushstrokes on the canvas.

The pink tulips are underplanted by blue forget-me-not.

Just Before Opening

February 5, 2012

March at Giverny is time for the last tasks before the gates open to visitors on April 1st. The last pruning, clipping, mowing, raking… before D-Day. 

While the gardeners take advantage of the empty garden to put their ladders and wheel barrows in the middle of the alleys, the earliest flowers bloom for their own sake. Big bouquets of daffodils shine in the middle of the fresh green lawns.

The first flowers of Spring are mostly yellow. They are paired with blue pansies to obtain this color combination that Monet liked so much, and that looks very attractive.

Giverny: zone 8

May 7, 2010

American visitors to Giverny often ask to which agricultural zone Giverny belongs.  A puzzling question indeed, as these zones aren’t commonly used in France!

 Asking about the coldest temperature in Winter doesn’t help a lot, because the Frenchs count in Celsius, not in Farenheit.

I finally found the answer: Giverny is in zone 8.

During the coldest night of the last Winter, temperatures reached -13°C, that is to say 8°F. This is OK for many plants, trees and bushes, except the most fragile.

 Some flowers even need frost to understand that it is Winter, and then Spring. If tulips, for instance, don’t get all the cold they need, they will sulk and refuse to bloom the next Spring!