Category Archive: Gardens

Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley, France.

By Sue Webster - 
Here is a story about the Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley, France.  We visited this garden in 2007 and were stunned with the beauty of these gardens.  If you only have time to visit a couple of chateaux when in France, this is a must.

THE GARDENS OF CHATEAU VILLANDRY, FRANCE

The Chateau of Villandry is the last of the great chateaux in the Loire, built during the Renaissance in the Loire Valley. Located about three hours from Paris on the banks of the Loire River, the chateau is renowned for its elegant architecture, but it is especially well known for its gardens that spread across three terraces and combine aesthetics, diversity and harmony. (Photo 1)

The Chateau Villandry dates from 1536 when it was built by one of King Francois 1 finance ministers, Jean le Breton. It was confiscated during the French Revolution before eventually being acquired for Joseph Bonaparte in the early 1800s. A Dr Joachim Carvallo purchased the Chateau in 1906 and spent a great deal of time and money restoring the chateau and gardens back to Renaissance style, which is what you see today.

The castle’s gardens are the reconstruction of a 14th century French garden based on ancient texts. The gardens are divided into four terraces, consisting of six gardens. Linden trees, yews and hornbeams are used extensively to surround the different gardens.

The Renaissance kitchen garden is composed of nine equally sized squares but inside of which the geometric patterns are all different. It has a profusion of colourful flowers and vegetables planted in a chequerboard plan. The effect of the seasonal variations is an ever-changing three dimensional picture. (Photo 2)

In the ornamental garden the box hedges form musical symbols, but pride of place is given to hearts, scrolls, butterflies and fans and more, all of which make up the four sections of the garden of love. When you climb up to the belvedere you can enjoy a magnificent view of the garden of love in its four sections – tender love, passionate love, fickle love and tragic love. (Photo 3)

The water garden is the most tranquil. It is a classic creation based around a pool representing a Louis XV mirror and surrounded by a cloister of linden trees. Here the pool takes centre stage, with the sound of the fountains and the great lawn space bringing calmness and tranquility. (Photo 4)

 

The herb garden or garden of simples, has many medicinal and culinary plants which were traditional to the Middle Ages.

The arboured maze, where the goal is to find spiritual awakening as you make your way to the central platform.

 

The Sun Garden which was created in 2008. It consists of three rooms, the Children’s Chamber where there are outdoor games and decorative apple trees, the Sun Chamber with a sun shaped ornamental pond and the Cloud Chamber where little grassy avenues form triangles and wind their way through roses and shrubs.

 

Villandry is stilled owned by the Carvallo family, and is one of the most visited chateaux in France. In 2007 it received over 330,000 visitors.

The lost garden of Paronella Park

By Tim White, Manager at Lotus Watergardens

Viewing platform and changing rooms.

While travelling through Mareeba in northern Queensland we heard about a property called Paronella Park and decided to go and have a guided tour. Jose Paronella started building Paronella Park in about 1930 after coming to Australia from Spain and building his wealth buying and selling cane farms. His dream was to build a castle and his whole philosophy was built around entertaining people.

Water feature powered by creek.

With the money he saved from his hard work he built castles, ballrooms, cafes, bathing areas, tennis and bocce courts and planted 7000 plants to landscape his gardens. He even built Queensland’s first hydroelectric power turbine to provide electricity to his estate from the waterfall in his backyard, as there was no power in the area. Unfortunately floods and cyclones have ravaged his castle and gardens but you can still see the forethought this man had.

Natural waterfall at Paronella Park.

This man was truly a visionary and, even though Paronella Park is not still owned by the family, the current owners have received a grant from the National Trust to rebuild this beautiful place back to its former glory.

Kauri pines walk.

 

A Melbourne Garden in July

By James Wall, Nurseryman.

Well it’s been a big month in our garden. The lawns are mown and the edges are done, but the weeds have been out of control. We have embarked on a concerted effort to physically remove as many as we can before they flower. Some spraying will also be done but I try and minimise this. A concern for many councils  around Australia is the very real possibility of weeds building up a resistance to chemicals like Glyphosate. We use a combination of hand removal, weed mat, mulch, and organic sprays like ‘Beat-A-Weed’ as well as traditional weed killers. Beat-A-Weed works well between the pavers and acts by dehydrating the plant.

With the mundane tasks completed, I stare with admiration at my neat green Sir Walter buffalo lawn. It’s looking fantastic and just waiting for the next footy kick. There is a bit of yellowing, and a couch or kikuyu will probably even yellow more. This is normal in cold weather. The worst thing you can do is feed lawn right now and it could even make things worse. Feed in October and if you have kicked the footy on it in winter, keep in mind it may be compacted and need aeration, also done in October. Find out more from our turf experts at The Smart Water Shop

Now for some of the more exciting tasks – like pruning the fruit trees. I love doing this. It’s like getting a tree all neat and tidy before it lets loose again in spring. Look at the tree before you start. Take out any inward growing branches and try and get the classic wine glass shape going. Maybe take a third off long lanky branches.  Apples fruit on second and third year wood so need to done a little differently, where you leave older spurs. I have manually removed all of the leaves off one of my plum trees as I have heard that it will help to have a long winter chill with no leaves. This tree didn’t fruit last year, so let’s see if this makes a difference. Don’t forget to spray stone fruit, before and at bud swell. Yates liquid copper is a good one to use as it dilutes well.

seed raising kit

 

Another activity I am doing now is sowing vegetable seeds of tomato, chilli and capsicum. You will need a covered propagation tray and preferably bottom heat to
warm the seed raising mix. Sow on top of the soil and cover the seeds with vermiculite. Carefully label each sowing area so you remember what you are growing and when it was sown. Use a watering can with a fine rose (like a cap with little holes) as this won’t blast the seeds away. As soon as they start to grow, make sure they get good light or they will stretch. Gradually remove the protection around the seedlings until they are tough enough to be in direct sunlight. Protect from the cold of night though. Soon they will be ready to transplant into pots.

 We have a family of Indian Myna birds hanging around our house. After doing some research I have found there are people around Australia trapping them and killing them. In Canberra alone some 40,000 have been eradicated. It sounds hideous, but when you read how they destroy our native birds by pushing eggs out of nests, killing chicks and blocking spare hollows with rubbish, I can see why people are doing this. It is a cruel reaction to this non-native pest, but if it means more native parrots and finches, then maybe this is a good thing.

This photo came from the Tweed Shire Council website. There is some interesting information on their eradication program on this web page.

 

With a bit more cleaning up of a callistemon and dead heading a protea, I am reminded how much I actually enjoy doing the everyday gardening tasks. An old gardener once told me that the reason younger people don’t garden much is that they don’t have the patience to make it past the mundane part. It’s a pity, because beyond that there’s a world of pleasure, in watching the garden grow.

Winter is a great time to come down to Gardenworld and talk to one of our qualified staff. You may just be surprised at what you will learn.

Now available: rhubarb, asparagus, shallots, seed potatoes, roses, bare root fruit and ornamental trees, gladiolus, calla and canna lilies, Red Hot Poker, paeony rose and 4 types of mushroom kits.

Rhubarb Tambo River Red

Happy days gardening in retirement.

By James Wall

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to visit the Parkglen Retirement Community in local Keysborough. It is on 8 acres of lovely pathways and gardens. Just the place to age gracefully. And for a frustrated gardener like me who has to spend too much time in his nursery rather than his own garden, this would be just the dream place for me in my retirement. Lets hope life  pans out that way.

These people are not all keen gardeners but the have an appreciation of their surroundings and  have a lot of knowledge, even if they don’t realise it. That is because each of these people have experienced over 250 seasons throughout their lives. Even the very best horticultural apprentice in Australia (one of which I believe works at Gardenworld !!!) can’t possibly have gained the knowledge as someone who has seen at least 65 winters pass by.

There was a couple of keen gardeners, a woman with great botany knowledge and then a few who had projects in progress. Everyone gets their own little garden, but there is no pressure on anyone, but there is also admiration and respect for those that have some plants that are doing exceptionally well. It was a wonderful morning, and here are a few images of what we saw.

(Just click the image to enlarge and then the back button to get back to this page.)

 

 

 

 

 

A country garden in August

By James Wall

Having got out of Melbourne for a visit to an aunts 80th birthday, I headed to a little place just outside of Daylesford, down here in Victoria. A place once bustling with gold rush, but now a sleepy hollow with cows and potatoes, it was good to take a break from the big smoke.

There is another aunty who lives just down the road. Mum said to me when I left the party, call in and have a look at Marj’s garden. She was good to tell me that, because around this little miners cottage was a jewel of a garden. With no one else around, it made exploring it all the more surreal.

There are formal hedges and desolate succulents on tables. Hebes, flax, climbers, iberis and big juicy hellebores that in real life were show-stoppers. This climate is cold in winter and damn hot in summer. At its wintery moment, it is like a sleeping giant, about to come alive.

What I loved about it was all the little nooks and crannys, and the way that there are different surfaces, pots and choices of plants that somehow work. If a lesser gardener tried this, it could turn into a jumbled mess, but my aunty Marj has got a real artistic style, and this garden just inspires.

I loved it so much, there are a lot of photos. I hope you enjoy them, and get something out of them for your garden. I know I will !

Read the rest of this entry »

Website by SWiM Communications