If the words 'English garden' conjure up images of Gertrude Jekyll, tumbling roses and deep mixed borders, then surely 'French garden' must make us think of topiaries, parterres and the unavoidable Monsieur André Le Notre.
Versailles was Le Notre's most well known creation, but he signed his name to many other 17th century gardens, and his influence has outlived him by over 300 years. His intricate swirls and loops, contrasting so deftly with the sharp edges and straight lines of his topiaries, linked into the 17th classicism with its desire for order and need to believe that man could control his destiny.
A landscape gardener came here this week to cast his critical eye over my little patch of green. He sighed and tutted (not very good for my morale!) and eventually came up with some wonderful and bold ideas. And I couldn't help but think how much Le Notre still influences the young gardeners of France.
In France today we love to blend the big and colourful mixed border, brought to us by the Romantic movement, with some strict lines and layout, so reminiscent of Le Notre.
So without more ado, here are a few of my favourite very French gardens, far too grand in scale for this blogger to imitate, but wonderful to drool and dream over ! And one thing is for sure, this year, I shall be visiting as many French gardens as I find the time for!
photos: 1 - Versailles; 2-Chateau Champ de Bataille; 3. Château de la Chatonnière 4,5,6-Château la Ballue 7-Marqueyssac; 8- Chateau Gaudon 9- Erignac