Sunday, June 25, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry V (Gardens)

When Joachim Carvallo visited Villandry in 1906, he found: 
"The grounds [are] landscaped in the English style, all undulations and hillocks (…), 
planted with a good many recently imported exotic species – cedars, pines, thujas, magnolias – 
set in clumps on the slopes of artificial mounds. 
The chateau itself [is lost] in a forest of trees and greenery."

Vegetables and flowers, scents and savours, calmness and energy, tranquillity and effervescence… 
the Château de Villandry unveils its remarkable gardens and smells.

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry IV (The Ornamental Garden)

Like an extension of the interior salons, the Ornamental Garden is itself divided into salons of greenery. 

Closest to the chateau is the first salon, composed of four beds. 
In the Andalusian style, its plant structure traces geometric shapes to form the “Love Gardens”.

Climbing up to the belvedere will give you the opportunity to enjoy a magnificent view of the entire Garden of Love, 
divided into four sections: tender love, passionate love, fickle love, tragic love.

Tender Love is symbolized by the hearts separated by flames of love in the corners of the square. 
At the center are masks which were worn at balls to conceal the face, 
enabling their wearers to engage in all sorts of conversation, from the most serious to the most light-hearted.

Passionate Love: Still hearts, but this time they are broken out of passion. 
The clumps of box are entangled to form a maze, further evoking the dance and whirlwind of passion.

Flighty Love: The four fans in the corners symbolize the fickleness of the sentiments. 
Between the fans are the horns representing betrayed love and, in the center, the love letters and sweet notes exchanged by lovers. 
The predominant colour in this square is yellow, the symbol of betrayed love.

Lastly, Tragic Love: The designs represent the blades of daggers and swords used in duels caused by amorous rivalry. 
In summer, the flowers are red to symbolize the blood shed in these combats.

On the left, in the center: a design easily recognizable as the Maltese Cross. 
Behind this cross, to the right, is the Cross of Languedoc and, to the left, the Basque Cross. 
Lastly are the highly stylized fleur-de-lys lining the moat.

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry III (The Water Garden)

Above the Ornamental Garden, at the far south of the estate, is the Water Garden. 
This boulingrin, or sunken garden, bordered with grassy banks known as glacis, 
consists of an ornamental pond at the centre in the form of a Louis XV mirror, 
embellished here and there with square parterres of lawn, 
a network of perpendicular avenues and four secondary ornamental ponds.
It's then surrounded by cloister of linden trees.

The present-day Water Garden dates from the early 20th century. 
The original ornamental pond was built when the gardens of Villandry were transformed into a jardin à la française (formal garden) 
in the 18th century. 
The redevelopment of the grounds in the 19th century in the romantic English style, 
led to the classical ornamental pond being replaced by one with more natural lines.
Drawing on 18th-century designs, Joachim Carvallo recreated the ornamental pond 
and gave this area the clear, regular appearance it has today.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Villandry II (The Kitchen Garden)

The Ornamental Kitchen Garden is the high point of the gardens of Villandry. 
In a purely Renaissance style, it consists of nine patches all of the same size, 
but each with a different geometric motif of vegetables and flowers. 
The patches are planted with vegetables in alternating colors – blue leek, red cabbage and beetroot, jade green carrot tops, etc. – 
giving the impression of a multicolored chessboard.

The vegetable garden has its origins in the Middle Ages. 
Monks liked to lay out their vegetable patches in geometric shapes. 
The many crosses in the Kitchen Garden at Villandry evoke these monastic origins. 
In addition, to liven up their patches, the monks would add rose plants, 
whose blooms also served to decorate the statues of the Virgin Marie. 
According to an old tradition, the roses, planted symmetrically, symbolize the monk digging his vegetable patch.

The second influence comes from Italy. 
In the Renaissance, Italian gardens were enriched with decorative elements, fountains, arbours and flower beds, 
skillfully laid out to divert the stroller, 
thus transforming the “jardin utilitaire“ (utilitarian garden), into a “jardin d’agrément“ (ornamental garden).

French gardeners in the 16th century thus combined these two sources of inspiration – French monastic and Italian – 
to create the garden they needed for roses and the new vegetables from the Americas, 
which they called a “potager décoratif” (decorative kitchen garden).

Here are some technical details about the Kitchen Garden:
Two plantings are made each year: one in spring, which remains in place from March to June; 
the other in summer, from June to November.
Forty species of vegetable belonging to eight plant families are used each year.
The layout of the vegetables changes with each planting, both for the purpose of achieving harmony of colours and forms, 
and due to horticultural constraints requiring triennial crop rotation to avoid exhausting the soil.
Watering is carried out by an automatic irrigation system buried in the ground.