mardi 13 septembre 2011

Table decoration

I spotted these charming table decorations in a cafe in Munich - tiny rosemary bushes in sweet cache pots.  Thought they were just cute.  You could use them at home, cheaper than cut flowers, smell good and fends off mosquitos - yay!

lundi 12 septembre 2011

" Designing a garden is a bit like having an affair with another man's wife: you have an intense relationship, knowing that at some point you will have to leave" 

"Gardening should make you happy"

James Alexander-Sinclair

Just read an interesting interview with this outspoken garden designer in the magazine 'Gardens Illustrated'.   Lovely magazine for dreaming.  Great photos.

vendredi 9 septembre 2011

Jardin Christian Dior, Granville, Normandy

Another holiday treat was a visit to the Christian Dior Garden in Granville, Normandy.  That is, the Christian Dior, the fashion designer (b 1905 d 1957).

His childhood home, 'les Rhumbs', acquired in 1905 by his parents has a gorgeous garden 'à l'anglaise'.  The house and garden, following their purchase by the town of Granville were opened to the public in 1938.

There is a good website with an English version which tells the history of the house (now a museum for Dior's creations, sketches, art collection and changing temporary exhibitions plus a discreet shop with a very beautiful salesperson).

I was particularly bowled over by the rose garden which was created by Dior's mother, Madeleine Dior along a sheltered path and restored again in 2002.  The roses are the old fashioned ones that smell divine.  I couldn't stop sniffing all over the place, which is fitting for the garden of a fashion designer who is equally well known for his perfumes.

In 1925 the young Christian Dior replaced the small green house by a pergola around a small pond and seating area.  This 'outdoor salon' is very much inspired by the Art Deco period.

There are simple and elegant dove grey (Dior colour adopted for his well known 'Dior' logo), benches offering comfort for those who wish to sit and drink in the atmosphere, a beautiful mosaic in blues and golds inspired by the name of the main house 'les Rhumbs' and a bust of the designer.  Camelias, hydrangeas and palms are planted and climbing roses, jasmine and clematis decorate the pergola structure.  A very restful area.

The garden is large with lawns, pretty planted areas, a bamboo arch and plenty of wonderful sea views.  If I had a criticism it would be that the flowerbeds of closely planted annuals seemed a bit 'municipal' and not particularly apt for a private home although there were some well maintained wilder and looser looking borders too.  The house, perched on the edge of the cliff, is simple inside with white walls and wooden varnished floors and it is fascinating to see Dior's wonderful, intricate creations close up.  Dresses every girl dreams of wearing!  I particularly liked his simple black and white illustrations where, with just a few strokes of the pencil, he describes perfectly and elegantly his next creation.

The garden is open to the public free of charge all the year round.  There is a charge to visit the house.

lundi 5 septembre 2011

String Gardens

These are so cool and sculptural and kinda weird.  Take a look, they will do your head in!  I just wanted to keep saying 'how do you water them though, how do you water them?  Doesn't the water drip down everywhere and the plant dry out???  And what happens when there's a gust of wind or the string breaks?'  Tell me, please!  From me, Ms Practical!

Pretty Parisien windows

I thought these two window decorations were pretty whilst remaining simple and not showy.  I particularly liked the softening of the window bars on these ground floor central Paris windows.  Really easy to do too.......try them at home!

Chateau de Vendeuvre, Normandy

I'm posting fresh from our holiday in Normandy, when we chose one of the most sunny weeks in the summer holidays, so it was a great time to see some of the beautiful Normandy countryside.  We chanced upon a stunning chateau which is near to Pierre sur Dives and not far from Caen.

The chateau is largely known for its collection of unusual miniatures and the gardens.  I passed on the miniatures and went straight to the gardens and they took my breath away.

Construction of the chateau began in 1741 and it's a typical French 'country house' of the 18th century.  The chateau is still lived in by the comte and comtesse of Vendeuvre although one can visit the ground floor and the impressive kitchens.  The chateau suffered a great deal during the last war; it was entirely emptied and used by a sucession of army troops.  Luckily the furniture was put into storage in just three days before the arrival of the troops, so most of the furniture was saved.  The park was destroyed by tanks rolling around the grounds.  Some bombs were dropped near the chateau and broke windows and the roof.  The old black and white pictures of the chateau during the war are an impressive testament to the enormous amount of work that has been put into the chateau to bring it to its present glory.  Restoration finished in around 1983.

According to the guidebook, the chateau gardens are 'à la francaise' and were created in the mid 18th Century.  From 1970 the garden restoration began and Guy Vendeuvre was inspired by the plans from the 18th century which he amplified and to which he added the themes of topiary and water.

An impressive labyrinth sits behind the chateau with yew hedges and white roses.  There is a fun mystery treasure hunt in one labyrinth, an exotic garden, a Japanese summerhouse, a cave covered in shells with a fountain, a gorgeous babbling brook, lovely views over the nearby fields, amazing vistas and hidden paths,  The most fun part is a walk in the beautifully kept gardens amongst the suprise water gardens.  For example, a contrasting coloured post box red Japanese style bridge topped with doves that turn into fountains when the visitor approaches.  There are more surprises in the Temple of Serenity, the Turtle Cascade, the Muse Fountain, the Crystal Tree and Cléance's bedroom.  Beware, you might get slightly damp if you don't look out!

I'll let my multitude of (rather good though I say it myself - I was inspired) photos speak for themselves.  The gardens were a wonderful mix of the natural, casual, formal and fun.  There were a lot of shady corners perfectly planted and it seemed that the plants had always been there like that, such a timeless, effortless feeling and such a serene, calm, quiet atmosphere with only the sound of the fountains and babbling brook in the background.  Do go if you are ever in Normandy, it's well worth the visit.