The Big Tulip Show

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.

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…

An Invisible Pattern

April 25, 2015


Seen on a map or from the windows of his home, Monet’s flower garden aligns straight lines that ressemble almost a grid. But because Monet raised the flower beds, an oblique look through the garden doesn’t reveal the walkways. Instead, it gives the feeling of an endless flowered meadow full of striking colors. Blues are made by forget-me-not, while tulips, fritillaries and pansies provide all the colors of the painters palette. (Click on picture to enlarge)

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.

The Crystal Clear Pond

February 19, 2015


As long as the water is still cold, the algaes don’t feel like growing. They wait patiently for better times to come.

In March, the water of Monet’s pond is so clear that the bottom looks close, offering shamelessly all its details to the view.

The uneven surface of the layer of mud resembles the moon, with mysterious craters everywhere. The planters of water lilies pop up in this desert like a lunar buggy.

The brave first leaves have made their way through the water to reach the surface, looking for sun and energy. They are still purple but will soon turn green.

In back light, when the weather is fine, innumerable stars twinckle on the surface where the light kisses the water.

This crystal clear water is the show awaiting the first Giverny visitors. In April, days get longer, warmer, and the inviting sunbeams awake grass, flowers, trees and algaes alike.

Some years, the water looses its transparency and  gets almost milky, to my delight, because I like the way it absorbs the colors, I find it lovely. After a while the water clears up again.


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.


May 17, 2014

Claude Monet designed his water garden from scratch, turning a marshland into a beautiful waterscape to paint.

His eye as a painter can be noticed in the much thought of composition of the garden.

Every where perspectives draw the sight, offering a ready made composition to the artist.

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.

Monet’s Pond

May 20, 2012

This is Monet’s pond at Giverny seen from the Japanese Bridge in May, when the wisterias are in bloom.

The water lily pads float like islands on the surface. No flowers yet.

Short before closing time, visitors are few. The late afternoon sunshine enlightens the trees on the eastern side of the pool. Silence falls on the garden. The scent of the flowers is in the air.

Monet’s Garden in Early April

March 23, 2012

giverny-aprilThis is what you can expect if you are visiting Giverny in Early April. The white and pink magnolias are in blossom. Very soon, their flowers will fall on the lawns, creating a white circle at the foot of the trees.
The pimples of weeping willows have burst, long branches of fresh green leaves hang over the pond, reflecting in endless verticals.
Patches of yellow or white daffodils illuminate the spring grass and diffuse a fabulous scent.
Monet’s pond, where only a few water lily pads announce the future splendour of Summer, is stiller than ever, and the atmosphere very peaceful.
All the benches and bridges have been repainted a bright green. They look inviting.
And birds sing like mads, offering the perfect voice track for a quiet and serene visit of Giverny.

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.

Path at Giverny

January 23, 2012

path-at-givernyA quiet path, early in the morning in Claude Monet’s water garden at Giverny.
The big tree on the right is the trunk of a taxodium, a deciduous coniferous that loves river sides. The big leaves at its feet are petasites, also known as butterbur, a plant that grows wild along the streams in the surroundings of Giverny.
An orange azalea tops a bed of pink tulips and pink forget-me-nots.
This picture was taken last Spring, the 4th of May.

Pink Blossom at Giverny

April 15, 2011

In the 19th Century, trees used to be white in Spring. There were white blossoms of cherry trees, white plum trees, white pear trees… Apple trees were slightly tinted with pink when budding, but became white when in bloom. Only southern trees like peach or apricot trees could be pink, however they were rarely to be seen in Normandy.

So we can imagine the novelty of introducing exotic varieties like crab apples, Japanese cherry or plum trees in a little village on the countryside like Giverny. Their pink blossom must have looked unique to Monet, and to his neighbours.

The pink exotic trees are widely spread by now, but in April their short beauty still enchants Spring in Claude Monet’s gardens.

A Place for Love

February 19, 2011

On April 1st, when it opens for the first time in the season, Giverny is like a sleeping beauty. Still a bit dreamy, it awakes gradually.

Lovers in their own dreams start walking around or sitting on the benches, enjoying the Spring sunshine.

Giverny is a nice place to celebrate love, love of a partner, of parents, relatives, and also love for gardens, nature, painting and simply beauty.

It was Valentine’s day this week: I dedicate this post to all lovers.

Looking Forward to Spring

January 28, 2011

On April 1st, when Fondation Claude Monet opens again for a new season, it is early Spring.

On the hills of the Seine valley, the pastures are still grey, waiting for a new grass to grow.

But in Monet’s garden, the first flowers display their colors.

The weeping willows open their buds and swing their freshly born leaves over the pond.

On the river side, the small basket willows stretch their orange twigs.

These traditional trees are useful to prevent the banks from slipping into the river, and they are lovely too.

It is still Winter right now, but we are all looking forward to Spring.