The Garden Landscape Guide

Serre de la Madone

This is Lawrence Johnston's French garden. Best known for making Hidcote in England, Johnston was a wealthy American. He employed a dozen gardeners to maintain the large plant collection and brought plants from around the world, including Burma, China and South Africa. As at Hidcote, the garden is divided into compartments with hedges and walls. Jardin Serre de la Madone occupies an area 9 hectares with a terraced garden and a Mediterranean forest. The terraces are supported by low stone walls and have pools and statues. The climate is exceptionally gentle and sunny, so that many tender and exotic plants can flourish. It is twinned with Hidcote Manor Garden, also designed by Johnston. The garden is near Menton and 3 km from the Riviera. It was designed in 1924 and changed hands several times after Johnston's death, falling into a period of neglect. The Conservatoire du Littoral acquired the garden in 1999 and launched a restoration programme, led by the botanist Pierre Augé and the landscape architects Arnaud Maurières and Eric Ossart.

74, Route de Gorbio, Menton, France

All year except November, Christmas and New Year. Daily except Monday. Open 10am to 6pm (5pm in winter).

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  • almost 7 years by Charlotte 5 / 5

    Another spectacular Menton garden, but very different from Val Rahmeh. Currently undergoing restoration, but still worth visiting. You wander first through terraces ablaze with agapanthus, and then the rest of the gardens unfold in front of you. Can't wait to see how the restoration progresses - this is a lovely garden and not to be missed!
  • about 7 years by Anonymous 5 / 5

    Completely agree, Les Serres de la madone is one of the most beautiful gardens of the riviera. I just went again last week-end, but may is a little late. I think begin of April must be the best time.
  • over 8 years by Adam Hodge 4 / 5

    Hidden up a road out of the back of Menton is this gem of a garden. I went in August, probably not the best time as everything was suffering from the dry summer, but for all that there was enough structure and some flowers and an abundance of exotic plants to make it charming, peaceful and leisurely. I imagine in the early summer or spring it would be quite stunning.
  • over 8 years by Pierre 4 / 5

    C'est le plus beau jardin de la Riviera.

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Serre de la Madone Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Serre de la Madone, France Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Pool at Serre de la Madone Photograph © Oxford Botanica/Adam Hodge
Serre de la Madone, 2009 Photograph © Charlotte Weychan
Pond, Serre de la Madone Photograph © Charlotte Weychan
Serre de la Madone, July Photograph © Charlotte Weychan
Serre de la Madone, Summer Photograph © Charlotte Weychan