Friday, April 24, 2009

A Trip to Italy (via France)

One of the most highly acclaimed gardens in France is located in the Loire Valley, at Chateau de Villandry. Interestingly though, the gardens are not typically French in style as you would expect, but rather, Italian Renaissance!

The Chateau itself was completed around 1536. However, the gardens from that era were destroyed in the early 1900's to create an English-style park. In 1906 the great-grandfather of the present owners purchased the Chateau and saved it from demolition. Today, the gardens are in the true Renaissance style and compliment the architecture of the Chateau completely.

Though the Chateau itself is certainly impressive, the gardens are the true stars here. Staged on three levels, there is ample opportunity to enjoy nature, whether you appreciate the ornamental water garden as a place for quiet contemplation, or the rowdy mix of colorful blooms bordered by tightly trimmed boxwood in the "love square".

On the lowest level is the vegetable garden. However, this description is completely inadequate, as you can see by this photo of the ornamental kale-this is a Potager Par Excellence! The Chateau's gardeners are artists in their own right, deftly mixing colors while at the same time coaxing impressive yield from whatever veggies they plant. Interesting note: during the war, a portion of the Chateau was used as a hospital, and the patients were fed from this remarkable garden.

There's no doubt that Chateau Villandry is Green in it's own right!

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