Tuesday 1 February 2011

Other gardens 3. Giverny

Giverny, Normandy, France.

Among the most famous gardens in the world must be those created by the Impressionist painter Claude Monet. When he moved with his family to Giverny in 1883 the land in front of his house, about one hectare in size, was an orchard. Monet set to work to make Clos Normand, his flower garden.  "All my money goes into my garden,"  he said, and added, "I am in raptures."

Monet lived at Giverny for forty-three years. In 1893 he bought an extra piece of land, separated from Clos Normand by a railway line, in order to make a water garden. A local craftsman built the Japanese bridge based on an image seen in an engraving and Monet planted the wisteria that grows about the structure. The water garden is Japanese in style, asymetrical, and, of course, the place that inspired his 'Decorations,' the set of huge water lily canvases that he painted at the end of his life. 

I visited the gardens one spring, too early to see the iris and peony  blooms. I think that I'm due another visit, perhaps in early June. I dug out these watercolours but failed to find the photographs that I had taken of the garden and the interior of the house. I fell in love with Monet's house; pink walls and green shutters, bright canary yellows in the dining room, blue and white in the kitchen, serene bedroom, studio to die for - I could have moved in straight away!

Clos Normand is designed in the French style with flower beds intersected by pathways set out in straight lines. This simple structure underpins a riot of colour and profusion of growth.

Monet used to say of himself, "I am good for nothing except painting and gardening."


  1. The watercolors are fabulous. My daughter and I have so long wanted to visit Giverny once we found the book "Linnea in Monet's Garden" years ago. It is a sweet story, with a lot of biographical information on Monet, his art and the gardens. Your post has just renewed my longing.

  2. I bought the same book for my younger daughter years ago, Bonnie.
    You are going to have to come to Europe!

  3. Have you been to Matisse's chapel in Vence, Cher? (and have I already asked you this...?)

  4. Good for nothing except painting and gardening. If he could have only learned to cook, he might have made it really big!

    You continue to amaze me with your paintings. Nice color palettes and alternations of cools and warms make them very exciting!

  5. No and no, Tom. But I'm posting a detour just for you.

    Oh, exactly, Steve. If only he had tried singing or an honourable trade such as banking or journalism!