Saturday 15 October 2011

A Gardener's Garden

Villandry may have the name and the fame, but nearby Chatonnière is also a very pleasant place to visit. For me, Villandry is a designer's garden, whereas Chatonnière is a gardener's garden.

An overview, taken from the terrace above the house.
It is clear that the budget is much less at Chatonnière, and it is said locally that the owner, Béatrice de Andia, is radin (= stingy). Plants here appear to be chosen sometimes for their ease of maintenance. Garden beds are not always immaculately weeded or trimmed here, but in many ways that adds to its appeal. As an ordinary home gardener, you feel comfortable here. You can imagine yourself creating a couple of beds full of billowing perennials or the chequerboard herb garden or the bank of roses, as seen at la Chatonnière.

Lizards abound in the garden, a good signal that it is sustainably managed.
With just four apprentices working for him, Ahmed Azéroual, the Head Gardener, has created a beautiful garden. Every year or so there is some major new addition and the garden expands. He is a remarkable person and it will be interesting to see how the garden fares after his retirement in a couple of years time. Perhaps we will all be heading off to Morocco, where he is already creating a garden for his bed and breakfast complex, in readiness for life after Chatonnière and Villandry.

Looking across the garden to the house.
The courtyard is guarded by four bergers allemands (German Shepherd dogs) so is off limits to visitors. Their technique appears to be to sleep in front of the gates so that anyone entering disturbs them.

He may look asleep...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love lizards? Every time I see one I think I'm getting a glimpse of the stone age.

Lovely to see gardens without a few mothy chickens pecking around, a load of weeds and a pack of bad tempered .

Ahhh, life in very rural France!


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