Monet once said ‘my garden is my most beautiful masterpiece’. And when you stand inside his house and look down at his garden from the first floor, it really is impossible to disagree.
From some angles, it looks like a cottage garden gone wild but look closer and you can see that there is a very clear structure.
When Monet arrived here at Giverny in 1883, there was only the house and a fruit orchard protected by a high stone wall. The orchard was removed and gradually Monet’s garden took shape.
Monet spent days on end planning, designing, digging, and planting densely packed color-themed flowerbed, interspersed with fruit trees, alleys of roses, arches, and gravel paths. And everything was strategically placed in locations and in ways that made the most of the changing light of day.
The use of color wasn’t limited to the garden. Each of the eight rooms of Monet’s pink house was infused with color, the dining room completely yellow and the kitchen completely blue.
Monet, by the way, was by no means simply an armchair gardener, happy to get others to do his bidding. Instead, he got his hands dirty, working along side those he employed to create his own little piece of paradise in the French countryside.
The famous lily pond, bordered by weeping willows and a network of paths and the green Japanese bridge, came later.
It was a place where he could retreat from the stresses of the external world. And as a result, it became the place where he would create his most well known paintings.
But if, like Monet, you came here for silence and solitude, (and to paint), you might want to arrive early in the morning before the excited tour-bus hordes, coming from Paris or cruise ships docked in Norman ports, descend on the gardens en mass.
Half a million visitors visit Monet’s Garden every year and given it’s only open from April to October, that calculated out at about 3,000 visitors a day. Not much, really, when you compare it to, say, the Louvre.
But still, it quite a few for the size of the place.
(all photos @2010 Liz Lewis)