“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” Rumi
Along a country road in a small village outside Paris, hidden behind an unremarkable stone wall, lies the inspiration for some of Claude Monet’s greatest works of art. Over two acres and 40 years, Monet lovingly created an ever changing muse in his gardens at Giverny.
The moment you step out of the old studio and into the gardens behind the house, your senses are awakened. The April air is sweet with the scent of daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinth and rich soil. Laid out in various sized grids and adorned with perfectly aligned trellises, structure gives way to an organized chaos of colour, texture and depth.
The eye is drawn to the beds exploding with a kaleidoscope of reds , yellows, blues and purples, blending in perfect harmony. The spring flowers will give way to summer blooms already stretching their stalks towards the sun. Flowering shrubs are only beginning to bud and the roses that will adorn the trellises barely green this time of year.
The symphony of colour will play through to October, building and fading with the light and seasons.
The Water Garden
The perfect symmetry of the Clos Normand gives way to a more fluid and natural design of the water gardens. Narrow paths meander around the lake and streams that dissect the property. Towering bamboo greet visitors as they enter, waving in the light breeze. The lake is the focal point, it’s still waters reflecting plants, trees and sky.
The tranquility of this garden inspires quiet contemplation. Benches overlook the lake and streams, inviting visitors to sit awhile beneath the willows and find their own inspiration through the beauty inherent in nature.
Monet once described his gardens as his “greatest masterpiece”. With the earth as his canvas and the flowers, trees and shrubs his medium, his legacy is a living work of art that could never be experienced the same way twice. There is no better word than masterpiece to describe the gardens at Giverny.
From Paris, take the train from Gare St. Lazare to Vernon. Shuttle buses in front of the station take visitors, for a fee, the few minutes to the town of Giverny. From the parking lot, follow the signs for a short walk to Monet’s house and gardens. Make sure to check the bus return schedule as these are coordinated with the train schedules.