xmlns:fb='http://ogp.me/ns/fb#' Karen Wagner garden & design: chaumont-sur-loire

Monday, 16 May 2011


Chaumont-sur-loire and the International Garden Design Festival

This might be one of the most famous gardens in the Loire....if only because it now has the International Festival of Gardens which attract garden professionals and intertested gardeners from all over the world.  There are 24 carefully selected and constructed gardens done with a theme and as 'show' gardens from designers around the world (mostly european). The theme of the festival htis year Garden of the Future and the art of happy biodiversity...which meant there was a lot of philosophising regarding the gardens!

The chateau is almost like a fairytale setting.... it needs only renaissance ladies with flowing hats hanging from the turretts.  The amazing, enormous grounds and the chateau have their own interesting and chequered history and are connected to other chateau we have seen in the area especially Chenonceau.
Chaumont-sur-Loire was given to Dianne de Poitiers when she was ordered out of Chenonceau after Henry I, her lover, died.  She didn't stay there long though.

The chateau has a feel of fading grandeur and althought the stone is still fabulous, the chateau overall was duller than some others we have seen.
Its not quite as well loved these days as it may have been when royalty were living here ...which did happen for many centuries.  The last few families to live here went to rack and ruin so one can understand the chateau not being in the best of nick....you can certainly see the good bones though.  And it was quite fascinating to see the gloomier upper servant eschalons which are certainly not on display in other chateau.
The stables however were a marvel and the horses obviously were extremely well looked after...luxury.
There was a wonderful installation by Patrick Blanc int eh stable courtyeard as well which will now become a permanent garden wall.

The emphasis of the estate is really on the estate and gardens.  They are large and very beautiful  and sit above the loire high on the hill so overlook the river and valley.  Much time and effort is undertaken into making the gardens the jewel.
The estate and grounds have also been really well utilised with modern art and installations to make it an interesting and contemporary place...lot of art installations is every outbuilding and in the chateau itself as well as scattered through the garden.
This gives the whole domain relevance to the modern age and although art is always something personal and to be talked about.....it means everything is being brought into and wwell loved for the modern age.  Many of the chateau that aren't being lived in don't have this feel at all...they are more like stage sets from by gone eras.
A large area is completely devoted to the international garden fesitval and this is what really attracted me to Chaumont-sur-Loire.
The festival gardens are 24 small show gardens and  range from clever to weird and are full of quirky ideas....lots that worked well and either gave a message or came together to give a feel of a lovely garden.  With some the execution didn't quite come off as well ...but thats just my opinion.

The gardens around them put together and maintained by the domain (estate) are absolutely superb and have been designed and set our fabulously.They were as mcuh a highlight as each of the 24 gardens themselves.
Many of the exhibition gardens are quite esoteric, so not always something one would take home and use themselves, but its meant to be art and thought and a little avant guard....so thats exactly what it does.
I have picked some of the more interesting ones to show in the photos.

This is a good pilgirmage  for the design professional.  Its almost like the contemporary arty frenchy avant guard version of chelsea flower show set in the most spectacular place you could imagine.

It's wonderful that the estate is being utilised this way and keeps it relevant for now rather than just being a pile of rocks from the past.

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