Category Archives: Monet’s Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray

THE GARDENERS

One of the thing that intrigued me

About Monet’s garden

Was how you keep it looking so good

For 500,000 visitors a season.

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A challenge to say the least.

So I was curious about the gardeners.

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Normally in this situation I would simply

Sic Debra on them.

After all she is a most curious person

And has a way of interrogation that is

Gentle and charming.

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But we had a couple of problems,

One, the gardeners were at work.

And we were there during their busy hours.

So we were asked not to bother them.

Then there was the fact

That they spoke French

And I don’t.

But you can learn a lot

By observing from afar.

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One question was about poppies.

They pulled them up

By the root

Just as the last bloom wilted

Before the seeds had matured.

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Yet they look like

They have self-seeded.

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So the unanswered questions was

How?

Do they dry the green pods

And save the seeds

To sprinkle in the snow?

My suspicion is that they return

To the garden

Via compost.

I never got the answer.

But sometimes mystery

And unanswered questions

Are just as much fun!

So since I wasn’t sure

Of the fate of these green pods

Packed with seeds of a color of poppy

I had never seen before.

A few seemed to find their way

Into my pocket.

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Couldn’t wait to get them home

And dried

And sprinkled

Into my own garden.

But….the last night

Someone commented about how fast customs moves

With the use of drug dogs.

And since these are the very variety

Of poppies that the USDA has banned in quantity.

We decided to leave them behind.

Kristina really wanted to see her children again.

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And not get caught up

In a gardening tour

Drug bust!

You would think that pulling all these poppies.

Would leave giant gaps in the color.

But as soon as one plant was pulled

Someone else came along

With a plant just as tall in hand

And planted them in the empty space.

While we were there

They replaced the poppies

 

With Cosmos.

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Three foot tall cosmos.

Which took me to

Wander through shall we say

The “guts” of the place.

The greenhouses.

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And cold frames

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Where they are grown.

They were filled with plants

Ready for the big show.

I found the  yellow wheelbarrows

I had noticed throughout the garden

Brimming with plants

Headed to the compost pile.

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They were stacked against the fence

Just like mine at home.

For me

Seeing the process

Was just as interesting

As the finished product.

I think it was there

That I found

My gardening Monet muse.

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Gail

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.  So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

Claude Monet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Compost, Cosmos, Garden Photography, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Nature, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

CLAIRE AND CONSTANCE

On Wednesday we traveled to Vargeneville sur la Mer

On the Normandy Coast

To visit the Mallet sisters

Claire and Constance

And their homes and gardens.

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Claire lives on the family estate

Le Bois de Moutiers

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Built by her ancestors

One of whom was a Haviland.

As in china.

Gardens and china.

I’m in double heaven.

It was designed by the then young British architect

Edwin Lutyens in the Arts & Crafts style.

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It’s a splendid house

A home really.

Unlike many period homes I’ve toured

This one was inviting

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Full of life and light

Streaming into the house

Through large and plentiful windows

And back out with a view of the forest

Leading to the sea.

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The grounds and the gardens

Were designed by Lutyens and the owner Guillaume Mallet

In conjunction with Gertrude Jekyll

The renowned English garden designer

Who brought us the perennial border

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And a more relaxed feel to gardens

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The garden is walled

And divided

With crisp clipped yew hedges.

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There are sweeping perennial borders

Doing what they do best.

Amaze and inspire.

Claire is tall and stately

And ever so gracious

Walking the garden with us

Pruners in hand

Snipping away as she goes.

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She reminds me of my friend Nancy

Elegant

Full of grace.

She tells us the stories of how the home and garden

Came to be.

Of the war years when it was occupied.

Of the art

And family treasures

That have been sold

To help pay for the upkeep of the estate.

When my family was struggling with

What to do with the family farm

Hers was having the same conversation

On another continent.

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From Claire’s home

We traveled to see Constance.

At 85 she gardens 4 -5 hours a day.

I like this lady.

She is shorter

More casual

And fun.

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Her garden reflects her personality

Less formal

Wild in areas

 

And on a smaller scale.

Widowed for 20 years

With both children living abroad

Most of the year

You might think she is alone.

But something tells me

People are drawn to her.

Kristina was.

Constance reminded her

Of  her own spunky grandmother.

They had a long visit

Including a tour of her home

Which is much smaller

More intimate.

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She told Kristina

Her garden was inspired by Gertrude Jekyll

Since she was a friend of her parents

And grandparents.

“She was in the milk of my bottle.”

Constance drank her in

In a sense.

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Gardening is a common bond

Through generations

And across continents.

Gail

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.”
Gertrude Jekyll

http://www.boisdesmoutiers.com/index.php

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Garden Planning, Gardening;Perennials, Generations, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Perennials, Pruners, Uncategorized, Wise Women

DEWY DETAILS

On Tuesday morning at Monet’s garden

We found it covered in heavy dew.

I made two entries into my journal

 

DETAILS

On my second morning in the garden

I’m struck by the details.

Granted it is a mass of abundant bloom

But it is the detail

That draws me in.

The light streaming through the poppy leaf

Highlighting the drops of dew

Along it’s edge.

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Allium

Resembling firecrackers

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Bees

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And bugs.

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Details take time.

Time to slow down

Enough to notice.

To breathe them in

To ponder them

To absorb them.

In most of my life

I am not a detail person.

I see the “big picture”

And look forward.

But over the years of gardening

I’ve trained my eye to look

For the details.

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And thankfully

My brain

Has trained my eye

To slow down.

To stop

To take it all in.

Being here at Giverny

In the quiet of the morning.

Allows the time

To see and feel the details

Of dew

Of new flowers opening.

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The last of the protective shell

Of a poppy blossom.

Before it hits the ground.

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This place is magical

I can see why Monet was such a productive artist

With this to inspire him.

The painter inspires the garden.

The garden inspires the painter.

 

 

HEAVY DEW

This morning the garden

Is bathed

In heavy dew.

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It coats

And nurtures

Each leaf

And blossom.

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A giver of life

Refreshing the blooms

For another day.

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So what is my heavy dew

Refreshing me each day?

What do I allow myself

to be bathed in?

What oozes into my pours

To nurture me

For the new day?

 

Gail

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.   So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”
Claude Monet

Once again the really good pictures are Debra’s!

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Filed under Allium, Garden Photography, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Poppy, Uncategorized

MONET’S GARDEN

There are some gardens

I have dreamed of seeing

All my gardening life.

This month I was lucky enough

To spend time in one of them.

Monet’s garden in Giverny, France.

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It was an extraordinary opportunity.

A week staying in a manor house

With private access each morning

Before the garden opened to the public

And each evening

After it closed.

As John put it when I first told him about it

“You have to go.”

Fortunately Kristina was up for a trip.

As was Debra.

So the three of us

Set out for France.

Spending a few days in Paris

Where chocolate mousse is served

In a soup tureen!!!

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Before traveling north to the countryside.

We were part of a group of 12 women

Mostly from the west coast

Who had some connection to

Elizabeth Murray…

Who years ago was

The first woman gardener at Giverny.

She has returned each year for 33 years.

Maintaining friendships with gardeners.

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And making more friends along the way.

This was the first year she has taken a group

To the garden.

We were along for the second week.

And fortunate to have learned about it.

Over the next few weeks

I want to share this experience with you.

So let’s begin at the beginning.

I first became aware of Elizabeth

When I bought her book “Monet’s Passion”.

It was a resource book for my garden design days.

I highly recommend it.

Decades later I would learn that she offers

“Days of creativity” in her home.

And journey to Monterrey

With friends for my 60th birthday.

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When she emailed last fall

Telling me about the trip

I got just the tiniest bit excited

And spread that to Kristina and Debra.

I would like to thank my friends

Who patiently listened to me for 6 long months

Anticipating our trip.

We gathered at La Reserve just outside Giverny

On a Sunday afternoon.

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Twelve women

Two from Australia

Two from Oklahoma

One from Colorado

Seven from Northern California.

Some had come to paint.

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Some to draw.

Others to photograph

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And me who wanted to sit

On one of those famous green benches

And write.

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To wait for my Monet muse.

To walk the paths of this garden he created.

To see the famous light that so inspired him.

To breath the garden air.

To simply take it all in.

Because our time in the garden

Was before it opened

Each day began with a “pre-breakfast snack”

At 6:30

Which is really no problem since the sun

Came up at 5:30!

We gathered at the gardeners gate

And entered through their “shed” which was Monet’s first studio.

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Images etched in my mind over decades

Pale to the reality before me.

Color everywhere.

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Flowers I have known and grown

Others that are new to me.

Then there is the famous light

Ever changing

Moment by moment

Turning poppy petals into small stained glass works of art.

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Elizabeth points out the window to Monet’s bedroom

And tells me that each morning he would open the windows

To see what was in bloom.

A habit I have with my own bedroom window

Overlooking my garden

You can tell this is a garden

Created by a gardener

Who also happened to be an artist.

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Thanks for indulging me.

Gail

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

Claude Monet

The photos I will share over the next few weeks are from Debra, Kristina and me.  I’m guessing you can tell which ones are from Debra!  Thank you for sharing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Gardening Friends, Gardening Mentors, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Poppy, Uncategorized