Villandry gardens, France

villandry collage

It was only a matter of time before I’d drag my family to a garden, on our holiday in France this year. We were in the Loire, famous for its chateaux, so I picked the one with the most impressive-looking gardens – Villandry.

It didn’t disappoint. From immaculate formal gardens to looser contemporary planting, pools, fountains and woods, we were all bowled over – there was even a maize and play area for the children.

After admiring the fish in the chateau’s moat, we crossed over into the ornamental kitchen gardens – nine plots in a grid, planted with a tapestry of vegetables and flowers, sparkling with colour in the late summer sun. Jade green carrot leaves, blue leeks and deep purple cabbages were set off by bright flowers – red hot begonias clashed wonderfully with verbenas, beds brimming with yellow targets looked striking with line of blue salvias running through them. Stunning.

In the ornamental garden – planted in box hedges of symbolic patterns, I loved the garden symbolising music, a serene space where dreamy spires of Pervoskia poked up between geometric box triangles – almost contemporary in its simplicity.

The Sun Garden, representing both the warmth of the sun, and cooler clouds, is the most recent addition, commissioned in 2008, and designed in part by Louise Benech. In the Sun Garden, where beds radiate out from a sun shaped pond in the centre, the planting glowed with the golden yellows of the rebekias, orange potentilla and flashes of deep pink roses. In the adjacent Cloud Garden, where little grassy paths meander through beds, there was a cooler palette of blue and white, shrub roses, white potentilla, phlox, with Verbena bonariensis and grasses swaying above.

The calming water garden with a pool and water fountains is a perfect place to take a pause, before climbing up to the higher terraces for a breathtaking last view of this remarkable garden from above.