The Garden Landscape Guide

Giverny, Fondation Claude Monet

An atmospheric country garden planted and painted by the leading spirit of French impressionism, Claude Monet. The artist moved from Paris to Giverny in 1883, believing that all painting of nature should be finished 'on the spot', not in a comfortable studio. In the same spirit, Repton had argued that landscapes should be designed 'on the spot', not in a drawing office. Giverny has two parts. Near the house is a traditional Normandy clos, a Walled Garden for vegetables and fruit. Monet placed arches over the paths and intermixed flowers with the fruit trees. In the nineteenth century manner, he favoured brightly coloured annuals, herbaceous perennials and shrubs. He planted Japanese cherries, tulips, irises, oriental poppies, gladioli, phlox, delphiniums, lupins, roses and pelargoniums. Trailing nasturtiums grow across the gravel paths. Exotic plants were grown in the greenhouses. The Water Garden, on the other side of the road and railway, has a pond and a Japanese bridge. Planted with wisterias, water lilies, weeping willows, bamboos and herbaceous plants, it is surprisingly small for so famous a place. Monet's Water Lily series was painted here and quality of the light is remarkable. It makes the pond highly photogenic, despite is comparatively small size. The apple green bridge and boats feature in some of Monet's paintings, others are almost abstract in their freedom from pictorial composition. Monet's son gave Giverny to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, which has worked hard to restore their original condition. It is the planting, rather than the layout, which gives the garden its interest. Because a great man worked here, a fine example of a nineteenth century country garden has been lovingly restored. The garish green plastic fencing jars but may well be in character with the original conception. Unlike most of the gardens in this book, it is more a domestic garden than a work of art. Visitors might also like to see the adjoining garden, at the Museum of American Art, which is a good example of the Abstract style of garden design.

musee Monet, Giverny, Haute-Normandie, France, 27620

April to October. Daily except Monday. Open 9:30am to 6pm (last entrance 5:30pm).

Visit the Giverny, Fondation Claude Monet website

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  • about 5 years by bonnie poppe 5 / 5

    I love this garden for its association with Monet, and because you can see it in his paintings. The only time of day to visit is first thing in the morning. Be in line before it opens. By 10am it is filling up with hordes of foreign tourists following their leaders with signs and umbrellas held high. Don't miss the house, there are some very nice Japanese prints there, which were well loved by the Impressionists.
  • about 5 years by Paul Urquhart 3 / 5

    I want to love this but ... the crowds, the barricades, the crowds..
    I went in late spring leading a garden tour - possibly the peak time (and thus ironically contributing to the crowding). There was plenty to see but little of the perennials and infill plants looked like they grew there naturally. I understand there is an army of gardeners growing on substitutes in a back nursery, ready to fill the gaps. And it shows. Holes are plugged with potted colour meaning that the overall effect is lost and the cohesion stemming from the interweaving of plants is lost.
    There are obviously issues with security but one of the biggest disappointments is the heavy, ugly green gate onto the road that obscures the view, as originally intended, of the lake. You should be able to stand on the verandah of the house and look down the main axis to the land on the other side of the road but not now.
    It is a charming garden and possibly more so later in the season when the nasturtiums drift over the paths but it looks to be suffering from its popularity. Do five-year olds really need to visit in their thousands? I wonder. What would they get from it.

    I do concur with the comments above about the garden of the Museum of American Art. The level of maintenance here left the main Fondation gardens for dead. It is really excellent - and a good place for lunch after the hurly burly of the main event.
  • over 7 years by PCooper 4 / 5

    I visited in October 2005 - late in the season; perhaps if it had been earlier I would have given the garden 5 Stars. It was such a special treat to see the Gardens of Monet. I liked the informal style after visiting so many formal gardens in Paris. I was traveling with a friend, and were celebrating her 60th birthday that day - made it back to the bus just as it began to rain buckets. Would most certainly visit again if I had the chance.
  • almost 8 years by Adam Hodge 4 / 5

    A lovely garden, especially when the crowds have died down !
    The plantings are lovely in the way plants are mixed toigether which gives a softer look and less blocked as is current practise.
    A romantic place !

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Lake, Giverny Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Water Garden, Giverny Photograph © Selena N. B. H.
Blue Irises, Giverny Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Bridge, Giverny Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Central Walkway, Giverny Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Irises, Giverny Garden Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Irises and Roses Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge