Giverny In September: Look, Ma, No Hedges!
So let’s talk about the structure of the upper garden, the Clos Normande, at Giverny. Giverny has no hedges, clipped or otherwise, but that doesn’t mean it is an amorphous blob. It has paths, arches, trees, walls, and of course Monet’s house. There is structure beneath all that exuberant color and greenery.
The structure begins with the house, which forms the north side of the upper garden. The house is covered with climbing roses on trellises, though these were mostly not blooming during our visit. It is painted soft pink and a pleasant blue-green, which sounds weird but which echoes colors found in the garden and looks entirely harmonious.
Then there is the grand allee, a wide path that forms a central north-south axis for the garden. Long and narrow rectangular flower beds border the alee on either side. Nasturtiums are planted along both edges, and sometimes they meet in the middle.
Smaller rectangular beds lie on either side of the ones that border the grand allee. However, they are not placed symmetrically, so where on one side they lie north-south, they may be east-west on the corresponding spot on the other side of the allee. There are also small lawns placed asymmetrically on both sides of the garden. Of course, I should say that by summer, there is so much plant growth that you cannot see the smaller paths unless you are right on top of one.
The grand allee also has arches covered with climbing roses. And throughout the garden there are arches, tuteurs and other structures covered with climbers – roses, clematis, morning glory, and more – some of them still blooming in early September when we were there.
And we can’t forget the trees and other woody plants. At the north end of the grand allee, there are two hoary old evergreen trees (cedars, maybe?). Apparently when Monet moved they lined the whole allee. Reportedly he quarrelled with his wife – he wanted them to go, she wanted to keep them. Eventually he removed all but two.
Scattered throughout the grassy parts of the garden are smaller flowering trees and shrubs – cherry, apple, laburnum, viburnum, Japanese maple, and more. Larger trees include chestnuts, lime trees, and sycamores. There are also many roses grown as standards, which have a substantial visual impact.
Finally, there is a wall along the southern edge of the garden, along the road that divides the upper garden from the lower. The wall is painted xxx. And there is a fence made from living apple trees, which flowers and bears fruit.
Do you have hedges in your garden? What is your favorite structural garden element?