May 18, 2009

Monet's Gardens: The Clos Normand

Impressionist artist Claude Monet used his personal gardens at Giverny as inspiration for over five hundred of his works. After his death in 1926, his home and gardens were inherited by his youngest son, Michael. Following Michael Monet's death in 1966, a foundation was established to raise enough money, mostly provided by Americans, to restore the gardens for enjoyment by the public.

Due to this restoration effort, today's artists, tourists and gardeners have an opportunity to draw inspiration with the design, color schemes and flower choices growing in the gardens.

Monet's house overlooks a one hectare (2 1/2 acres) walled garden called the Clos Normand. On either side of this central path there are multiple paths and rectangular flower beds. Most are laid out in straight lines with few curved edges. However, the overflowing blooms and foliage soften these lines with billowing forms. Trees and vertical elements of arbors and supports are used for climbing vines, such as clematis.

At the bottom of the garden is a wall. The willows and other trees on the other side of the wall surround Monet's famous water garden pond with lilies and the wisteria-draped arched bridge (to be featured in the next story).

Color schemes are sometimes harmonic while others are contrasting. Soft palettes of blue, pink and purple are mixed in some gardens, while others sport strong red, orange and yellow hues. With the gentle slope of the gardens down from the house, you can view the wide sweeps of color or take a close look at the individual blooms. Those who are familiar with Monet's paintings will recognize different views of the gardens.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Giverny, France; May 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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