October 23, 2011

Garden Inspiration: FRANCiful Things I've Seen (Part Two)

Château Val Joanis winery and gardens.
The white rock radiates warmth to the grape vines.
Pertuis, France (Provence). April 2011.

Fanciful and French—here are a few FRANCiful things I've seen.

Part Two. Provence.

We found Château Val Joanis with a little help from our friends on the SlowTravel France Forum, a car and a GPS. The winery is located between Pertuis and Villelaure, twenty-five kilometers north of Aix-en-Provence—our home base village during our April 2011 visit to Provence.

The château gardens are open from April through October and if you are on a driving tour, I recommend that you go a bit off the beaten path to stop by for an hour. The famous Mistral winds were kicking up during our visit on April 12, but as stated on the website, "...the terraced gardens are carved out of the slope and constructed in an area protected from the Mistral winds using stones salvaged from a Roman pool." 

Table vignettes are strategically placed
around the garden courtyard.
(Click photos to enlarge.)

The Val Joanis gardens are made up of three terraces. This is a productive garden, with veggies and fruits. Although laid to formal lines, there were touches of fun and whimsy though out the gardens. I was particularly intrigued by the copper post caps and the use of trellises in the gardens to add vertical height as well as provide support for climbing plants.

There is a mix of international influence in the garden. Rusty oriental-style lanterns hang on a parallel trellis across the garden from the copper post caps. There is even an interesting English-style wattle edging. Look closely at the photos to discover the material used instead of woven willow branches.

The garden was started in 1978 by the owner and a landscape architect. The vision was to create a 19th century garden. With paths, pergolas, parterres and arches, it's an inspiration on a smaller scale than many of the mammoth public gardens. Not overrun by tourists, this is a quiet little garden where a visitor can take time to study the plants and structures and watch the gardeners at work.

I've not mentioned the wine! This is a working vineyard and wine-tasting in the gift shop can be enjoyed either before or after your garden visit. The gift shop is also stocked full of interesting Provençal products.

My favorite whimsy—copper post caps.

Take note of the "wattle" edging.
Willow branches? No.
Rebar is used to make the edging!
Every garden needs a red birdhouse!
Interesting alignment of vine-covered arches;
one arch is within a woven pergola.
Wisteria blooms on the long arbor
that connects three terraces. The arbor
is made from nineteenth century
couloir à autruches.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
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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