Grafico Topico finds everything blooming beautiful at Giverny … but whether you go to France or not, a bouquet of books and a video / DVD offers an enjoyable armchair tour
THE MOST visited garden of its size in the Western world is claimed to be Claude Monet’s garden, with house and studios, at Giverny, 50 km north from Paris off the A13 motorway. Lovingly restored in 1980, the house and garden, known as the Fondation Claude Monet now receive half a million visitors a year. (www.fondation-monet.com. Open Apr-Oct daily)
A century earlier, in 1883, when Monet settled at the age of 43 with his family at Giverny, he was a successful exhibiting artist and, never one to horde his money, spent his newfound wealth mostly on his garden, says Derek Fell in The Magic of Monet’s garden (David Bateman).
At first Monet enlisted the help of his children to weed and water, but soon he employed a head gardener and up to eight assistant gardeners. He was no dilettente, however, and (at least in the early years) was very practical and hands-on, often digging the ground himself: the art critic Octave Mirbeau described Monet in his shirt sleeves, suntanned and happy, “his arms black with compost.”