One day recently we had a reprieve from guest dinner preparation – all our clients were checked in and had their own evening meal plans. It just happened to be a Friday night, so our favorite restaurant in Blois was open, recently back from their annual vacation, and had a table available.
It was already late afternoon, but still too early to go directly to dinner. We had a couple of hours to kill, so we decided to first stop by the gardens and château of Chaumont-sur-Loire.
This place has a lot to recommend it. The castle and associated royal stables are primary attractions, but the grounds are enormous and are our usual focus. The garden is divided into several parts. There is a park with a wide variety of spectacular tree specimens. Among them are tucked a number of striking organic sculptures.
This piece, newly created for the park this year, is a huge snaking construction made from old vines.
The variety of trees makes for a stunning contrast of size, shape, texture and color.
The afternoon was pleasant . Walking among trees is always relaxing for me.
It was, however, the annual flower borders that really made my eyes pop. This year's theme colors are soft lavender and cool blues, my favorite combination.
I can't imagine how many gardeners it takes to keep this place so pristine. In the several times we've visited here, I have never seen anyone fussing over a flower border, and at the same time never noticed anything remotely out of place or shaggy. Some kind of magic.
The park grounds stretch for acres around the château, and dotted throughout are these extravagant borders, which change with the season and year.
There is a lot of creative gardening done at Châmont-sur-Loire, not in the formal French style, but much more reminiscent of the English cottage garden.
I could not get enough of these flower combinations. The colors made my heart sing. Looking at harmonious colors, especially in nature, lifts my spirit.
The château park is enormous, yet it occupies only about 2/3 of the grounds. At the back there are two other distinct sections. On one side is the garden exposition space, where every year about 25-30 gardeners from around the world create little garden installations that reflect on a particular theme. On the other side is my very favorite space of all, the gardeners' experimental vegetable and ornamental working garden.
There are always some new ideas to discover in this place. It was here that the idea of the vertical garden was piloted.
There are quite a few trellises throughout, built of simple materials, which add dimension to the garden design.
Here too the plantings are perfectly maintained
The structures are ingeniously constructed and used to great effect to create separate garden rooms.
We took a hurried tour through the exposition gardens. The theme this year was The Seven Deadly Sins.
A huge wicker basket with herbaceous plants spilling out represented gluttony. It's hard to imagine a glutton being too interested in vegetables.
The one I found the most clever commented on the wastefulness of our consumer culture. The instillation consisted of tall tin cans which were planted and then arranged together to form an integrated garden space.
We were able to work up a good appetite after a pleasant interlude of garden wandering
We highly recommend Au Rendez-Vous des Pêcheurs. The chef, Christophe Cosme, makes a fabulous meal. We have always had a memorable dining experience there. If you want to see some photos of his food creations, be sure to follow the link to his restaurant.