Impressionist Spring Colors

November 23, 2012

spring-colors 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.

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.

The ‘Tulip Fields’ of Giverny

March 12, 2011

tulip-givernyIf you are planning a visit to Monet’s garden in Giverny, you may wonder what is the best time of year to come. There are many! The scenery, the flower show change with the seasons. One of my favorite time is the tulip’s.
Tulips flower mostly during the second half of April. Their blooming is spectacular, gorgeous, breathtaking. They offer colors, colors, colors, always bright ones, they can have soft and tender or very warm flaming tones. They exist in an infinite variety of forms and aspects. And they provide amazing mass effects.
This border, for instance, was designed by Monet after visiting and painting the tulip fields in Holland. He was impressed by the large colorful stripes of these cultures.
When he came back to Giverny, Monet decided he wanted a very long border in his garden, from top to bottom, planted according to a monochromatic scheme.
This oversized flower bed records to his visual experience in Holland, as far as color and size are concerned. But Monet could not be satisfied with one sort of tulips only. His ‘tulip field’ is a very refined mixed border composed of many different sorts of tulips. They harmonize, their pink is slightly different, producing the subtle variation of tones that one can observe on an impressionist painting. A beautiful example of the way Monet used flowers like brushstrokes.

Giverny: zone 8

May 7, 2010

giverny-tulips.jpg 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!

Tulips

May 2, 2009

pink-tulip.jpg

What would be Spring without tulips? They illuminate April in Monet’s garden at Giverny.

According to the head gardener, the  list of the varieties displayed in the garden is very long: several hundreds of types of tulips make the Clos Normand sort of a flower show.

It is unbelievable how different the tulips can be. Their colors range from pure white to almost black red, from light pink to deep purple, from pale yellow to bright orange. They can be ridiculously tiny, or incredibly tall. Some are classically round shaped, other ones look like stars, or are as twisted as a flame. The parrot tulips seem tightly shut jaws.

But all of them have this silky quality of petals that reminds of the shine of skin, enhanced by dew in the morning sunshine.

Under the Tulips

March 2, 2009

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This is how the garden of the Museum of Impressionisms Giverny looks like in April.

Small chambers of monochromatic beds are hidden behind tall hedges. Each one has a different atmosphere, creating a surprising effect for visitors who stroll along the central alley.

Tulips are a must in spring, of course. But they need to be planted together with smaller flowers at their feet for a greater impact.

Several varieties are suitable to cover the bare ground. Pansies exist in so many colors that it is possible to create infinite harmonies.

Daisies are also a simple solution. Their pink gives a fresh look to the flower bed.

But if you are as lazy as I am, you will certainly prefer forget-me-nots. They reseed on their own and offer a very tender and poetic cloud of tiny flowers for weeks.

They are generally blue, but can also be found in pink or white. In Monet’s garden they are widely used: blue forget-me-nots with pink tulips, white ones with white tulips or pink with pink tulips for a ton sur ton harmony.

Here in the Museum’s garden they are planted in a wave towered by a bunch of tulips: this way they give rhythm to the border.