It seems a long time ago since my old friend Rosie suggested that I accompany her on a voyage of discovery around the British Isles. A chance to see new places and to re-discover my penchant for travel. We were to embark on an eight night cruise starting from Tilbury in Essex (London International Cruise Terminal)
travelling in an anti-clockwise direction around the British Isles and stopping in Northern Scotland, the Isle of Lewis, the Isle of Mull, Ireland, the Scilly Isles and across the English Channel to Honfleur in France. The circle would be complete on our return to Tilbury. It was to be my first holiday for a long time and my very first cruise.
You need a ship to cruise and I was very pleased to find that this one met my perception of a traditional cruise ship. Small by modern standards but perfectly formed. This view was taken from the tender on our return from a day trip to the Scilly Isles.
From there, we crossed the Channel overnight to France and docked, on the last day of April, in the small port of Honfleur which is on the southern bank of the River Seine in Normandy. The large commercial port of Le Havre is across the estuary on the north bank of the river.
We boarded a coach at the dockside for our journey to Monet’s Garden but the route did not take us past the old picturesque 16th- to 18th-century townhouses which feature in some artists work, including Monet, so the above was the best view I could get.
It is about 85 miles, and took less than 2 hours to get to Giverny, where Claude Monet and his family settled in 1883. He set about creating a walled garden in front of his house which would be full of perspectives, symmetries and colours and became Clos Normand. He became a bit of a botanist, spending a lot of money collecting plants and after 10 years set about acquiring more land adjacent to his, but across a road and railway and which, importantly, contained a brook. He used this to create a pond and water garden full of asymmetries and curves. It is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly. So, that’s the background and now my attempt to show you what there is to see.
From the coach park we entered through the water garden following the brook meandearing through bamboo and clumps of pastel hued plants.
You are required to keep to the paths and as you make your way through the aspect opens up and you get first sight of the placid, still, pool.
The biggest problem with trying to get some of these photos is the number of visitors in the garden (getting in the way 😉 ) and deciding how much time you can spend in any spot as there is so much to see and at this point you don’t really know the extent of the gardens.
Then you just know that you have come across the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, which you cannot see as it is too early in the year.
I did my best to capture the view but have not really done it justice.
From here you have to cross road and rail to get to the walled garden using an underpass. Emerging out into the open you get your first glimpse. The house can just be seen at the top of the photos.
We are now in the original garden which is laid out more formally than the water garden and has a number of avenues enclosing beds with clumps of flowers with co-ordinating colours. Fruit trees and climbing plants add height and structure.
It was spring time so flowering bulbs were everywhere.
I was very impressed to see these Crown Imperials standing high above the tulips and wallflowers and will have a go at growing some for next spring.
The main alley below, closed to public access, is covered by arches for climbing roses and provides a perspective to and from the main house.
I made up that title by the way, but would love to see it when the roses are in flower.
A view across the garden, which I hope shows the extent of planting. I haven’t really shown any of the flowering trees, but this one caught my eye also while looking across
Moving rapidly on we went into the house to have a look around and see how the master painter turned gardener lived, in some style.
The house and garden fell into disrepair after the Second World War and it was only about 1970 that work began on restoration.
“Almost ten years were necessary to restore the garden and the house to their former magnificence. Not much was left. The greenhouse panes and the windows in the house were reduced to shards after the bombings. Floors and ceiling beams had rotted away, a staircase had collapsed. Three trees were even growing in the big studio.
The pond had to be dug again. In the Clos normand soil was removed to find the original ground level. Then the same flower species as those discovered by Monet in his time were planted.
Thanks to generous donors, mostly from the USA ,the house was given a facelift. The ancient furniture and the Japanese prints were restored. Then the visitor areas were fitted out.
The property has been open to the public since September 1980.” – courtesy of http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm
The view from upstairs.
and the view down the central alley from the house
I will finish with my personal favourite, a view through the window across the flower bed
which I think, looks great full screen.
I hope there were not too many photos for one post, that i have given you an idea of the marvel of Monet’s vision and that you have enjoyed your visit almost as much as the half a million visitors who pass through the garden each year.
Thanks for your time.