The longest untamed river in France- La Loire- passes through Touraine, where in the valley and surrounding hills can be found hundreds of chateaux, manoir and other imposing buildings. A classified UNESCO site, the Loire Valley has long attracted kings and queens, artists and writers, poets and plebs.
At the root of the attraction of this area is a mild climate and fertile soil, giving rise to the name “The Garden of France”.
With a mix of soil types – chalk, clay, gravel – short winters and dry summers, almost any non-tropical plant will find an ideal growing location, be they roses or grapes.
There are gardens here for all tastes, from traditional to, well, frankly bizarre (or maybe innovative is better!)
Traditional starts with Villandry a stylised Renaissance formal garden. Low box hedges surround beds of roses, annual flowers and vegetables in a visually stunning geometric layout. There is also the formal lake, the avenue of lime trees, a maze… the whole is a picture of tranquillity where you could imagine princes and princesses strolling.
Another formal garden is at the Chateau of Chenonceau, a stunning building spanning the River Cher. However, the formality is balanced by the forest walks through massive oaks, chestnuts, beech and other trees. Here you will find hidden treasures – the maze, the gazebo – where you can pause and rest awhile.
A similar forest is at the Chateau de Riveau, but carried one stage further, The Chateau itself being quite small, the owners have developed interest in the garden. Taking as their theme things gargantuan (Gargantua was the giant hero of books by the writer Rabelais who lived in this area), you will find giant boots, giant legs striding through the forest, giant – well, you get the idea! And some elves and fairies, all very delightful.
Even more innovative are the gardens at the Chateux de Courson, where every year from April to October they hold a garden festival.
The chateau is set in a parkland – giant Lebanese cedars, flower and grass meadows, woods; but, adjacent to the old farm buildings, a large area has been set aside to host some 30 show gardens. Unlike temporary garden shows such as Chelsea, the show gardens here have to survive for 6 months – withstanding all the weather has to offer, as well as thousands of visitors passing through.
Here you will find the imaginative, innovative, and, yes, bizarre, but always idea generating, amusing and sometimes stunningly beautiful.
Here at the farm of La Ferme du Temple, we love to share our garden with our visitors. Natural streams, a small lake, meadows grazed and fallow, a rose bed, dahlias and spring bulbs. All enhanced with bridges, old stone buildings and sculptures – a private paradise!