Claude Monet in Giverny
Monet's Garden & Life in Giverny
In 1883, Claude Monet moved to Giverny with Alice Hoschede and the eight children (two from his first wife Camille). Monet and Alice lived as husband and wife even though she was still married to her first husband Ernest who deserted her and the kids. Because her religion prevented divorce, Alice didn't become Mrs. Claude Monet until 1892 when Ernest died. Monet and his family settled into the green shuttered pink house known as The Cider Press (La Pressoir). Since he lived there until his death in 1926, Monet had ample time to create extensive gardens that have been immortalized in countless paintings. He pursued gardening as passionately as he pursued painting - planting, weeding and watering the densely packed flowers himself. In 1890, he was able to purchase the home and gardens outright, at which time he employed six gardeners to assist him in creating one of the most beautiful floral landscapes in the world. The garden consists of two parts, the Clos Normand flower garden near the house and the oriental water garden which is just across the street. You can see the garden layout in the garden plan below. Claude Monet so loved these gardens that they became the subject of over 500 paintings.
After Monet died in 1926, his step-daughter Blanch and son Michel cared for the property until he died in 1960. Upon Michel's death, the property was deeded to France's Academie de Beaux Arts who let it detoriate due to lack of funds and interest. In 1977, the new curator, Gerald Van der Kemp, undertook a great fundraising effort which was backed by both American and French contributors. Hence the gardens and home of Claude Monet were restored to its original condition and were opened to the public in 1980.
Exploring these gardens was truly the highlight of my trip to France and I hope to share some of their beauty with you. Claude Monet and gardening enthusiasts will shed a tear (as I did) when they visit the home and gardens of the impressionist. Monet's house and gardens are open daily (except Mondays) from 9.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. from April 1st to October 31st. Click on the map below to get more information about visiting Giverny!
Ooh - A Sparkly Purple Star!
This lens was given the prestigious Purple Star award on 11/27/2010. What a wonderful Thanksgiving gift and blessing. A special thanks to the angel who took the purple star quest and passed along the love to me. I payed it forward this morning by nominating another of my favorite garden lenses on Squidoo written by KonaGirl (http://www.squidoo.com/hawaiiflowers). Check it out if you get a chance!
Claude Monet Garden Quotes
"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece".
"Everything I have earned has gone into these gardens".
"I am following Nature without being able to grasp her... I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."
"I am only good at two things, and those are: gardening and painting".
"It took me time to understand my waterlilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them".
Giverny Garden Books
Claude Monet's House
It took nearly 10 years to restore the lovely pink house along with the gardens to their former magnificence. Inside the house, the floors and ceiling beams had rotted away and the staircase had completely collapsed, but you wouldn't know it when you visit today.
The airy blue kitchen and bright yellow dining room where the family sat down for gourmet meals are just a few of the rooms that you can tour. Monet's bedroom is also open to the public, but the children's rooms are not. Photographs inside the house are prohibited, but postcards are available in the flower candle and souvenir shop or you can buy a fantastic gift book which showcases the interior by Heidi Michels.
The great thing about Monet's garden design is that you can see most of the Clos Normand garden from the house, but even more impressive is how Monet framed the house with great views even from the Oriental water garden across the road.
My #1 Giverny Tip
Visit the gardens after 5 PM or before 10 AM. We initially went around 2 PM & we left thoroughly disappointed as the gardens were so crowded that you couldn't move. We went back at 5 PM and had the entire place to ourselves. At that point, I literally shed a tear & we got all these great photos!
The Clos Normand Flower Garden
Just in front of his large pink house, Monet laid out gardens that consisted of densely packed flower beds intersected with gravel paths. Instead of pursuing a formal look, Monet and his gardeners planted flowers that softened the hard edges of the paths. In fact, many of the flowers grow fully on to the paths by the end of the summer - especially the orange nasturtiums on the Grand Allee. Many trees were planted to cast shadows and create dappled sunlight across the garden as well. The Clos Normand Garden covers nearly 3 acres.
Monet carefully selected plants to create rich textures along with harmonizing or contrasting hues of color. In some areas, he planted monochromatic masses of colors like blue or pink. For blue color, Monet planted flax flowers, delphiniums, blue bells and foxgloves. For pink, he planted peonies, roses and hollyhocks. In other areas, he planted contrasting primary colors. The huge variety of flowers covered every color of the rainbow including hydrangeas, dahlias, poppies, irises, and hibiscus. Fortunately, the many photographs that were taken during Monet's life and Monet's own paintings helped gardeners to restore the original look of the Clos Normand Flower Garden. The gardens are ever-changing as the bulbs and perennials blooms fade and emerge. So in Spring and Summer and Autumn, the garden looks completely different as the floral kaleidoscope is constantly changing. The garden isn't particularly interesting in winter which is when Monet usually traveled to other locations such as Venice and the French Riviera.
Le jardin de l'artiste Ã Giverny, 1900(Musee d'Orsay)
Weg in Monets Garten in Giverny, 1902(Ãsterreichische Galerie)
I visited in Spring when thousands of Dutch bulbs were blooming in all their magnificent glory. There were ribbons of color around every turn. In the Spring garden, the paths have not yet been taken over by wandering flowers so it seems more formal than later in the year.
The most stunning vistas in the Clos Normand Flower Garden are along the Grand Allee which is the wide gravel path that extends from the house to the gate. Monet achieved a tunnel effect along the 10 foot wide path by placing 13 foot tall iron arches every 22 feet down the path. Climbing roses cover the arches by the end of summer creating an umbrella of flora. If you are looking toward the house from the gate, the green door of the house is perfectly framed by the archway. In Spring, the allee appears quite wide because the wandering orange nasturtiums and climbing roses have not yet filled in.
The Oriental Water Garden
In 1892, Claude Monet bought a piece of property adjacent to his home where he created the oriental water garden which has been the subject of numerous paintings. To create the large pond, Monet diverted part of the Ru creek and proceeded to plant the banks with willow trees, azaleas, bamboo, alders, irises, and of course, the infamous water lilies. The hardy and tropical water lilies were planted in tubs and placed in the pond. That way, Monet could harmonize the colors and get growth where he wanted it. The water lilies range in color from red to copper to yellow to white and pink.
The photo to the right shows Monet on the Japanese bridge in 1922 (from the New York Times photo archive).
In 1893, Monet also added the infamous curved Japanese bridge, but it was not until 1899 when the plants and flowers filled in that he began to paint the bridge and pond fervently. The bridge is the main architectural feature in the garden and it creates a fantastic elliptical reflection in the pond itself. In fact in 1899 alone, Monet painted 18 different paintings that included the Japanese bridge. Four years later (1903), Monet added a trellis over the bridge that he draped with Wisteria. I was fortunate enough to visit in early May when the Wisteria was in full bloom. It was a sight to behold and it softens the lines of the bridge just as Monet had intended.
Monet spent much of the early 1900's painting the motifs of his gardens - they had matured enough that Monet felt that he no longer had to travel for inspiration.
Water Lily Pond, 1900 (Art Institute of Chicago)
Le bassin aux nymphÃ©as, harmonie rose, 1900 (Musee d'Orsay)
Le bassin aux nymphÃ©as, harmonie verte, 1889 (Musee d'Orsay)
The Water Lily Pond, 1889 (National Gallery of London)
Water Lily Pond, Water Irises 1900 (Private Collection)
The water lilies and their reflections in the pond inspired Monet to create an entire series of Water Lily paintings. The last 25 years of his life, Monet spent considerable time painting the water lilies.
NymphÃ©as bleus, 1916-1919 (Musee d'Orsay)
Water Lilies, 1906 (Art Institute of Chicago)
Water Lilies, 1917 (MusÃ©e Marmottan)
Water Lilies, 1919 (MusÃ©e Marmottan)
In 1914, Monet began work on enormous water lily paintings - 6 foot tall panels with varied lengths up to 41 feet (each panel consisted of several canvases). While painting in his studio (which he had built just for the purpose of these enormous paintings), Monet had the canvases on casters so that they could be wheeled around easily. In 1918, Monet offered two of the large panels to the State in celebration of the Armistice Day holiday. His friend and France's Head of State, Georges Clemenceau, liked the idea so much that he and Monet negotiated to have these and even more enormous panels displayed in a building specifically designed for the masterpieces. Monet spent the last 10 years of his life on this collection. Eight of his water lily panels were installed in the oval rooms of the Orangerie in Paris in 1927, a year after Monet's death. Be sure to visit the gift shop at the Orangerie to pick up a gardener gift for the garden lover in your life.
Seeing the oriental garden in person makes you realize how well Monet created the illusion of space in his paintings because the pond and oriental garden are relatively small and compact covering less than 2 acres. A labyrinth of gravel paths winds around the pond also making it appear much larger than it really is.
Giverny Visit Poll
Have you visited Monet's Giverny Gardens?
Additional Claude Monet's Giverny Resources
- fondation claude monet HOME - fondation claude monet
Information and photos about Monet, his garden and house.
- Tourist Guide For Giverny
Information about Monet, his paintings, garden, and even B&B's in Giverny.
The Ultimate Garden Wedding
Who knew you could get married in Monet's Giverny Garden?
Visit Monet's garden in Giverny, France on a Saturday and you'll likely find a bride and groom with a photographer in tow trying to get the perfect wedding photo that they can cherish for years to come. If you want to have the ultimate garden wedding, then look no further....Monet's garden in Giverny is the ultimate destination....at least I think so. The arched bridges, water ponds, beautiful arbors and endless array of flowers make it an amazing choice. And if you are planning a garden wedding near your home, be sure to pick up some beautiful wedding favors to thank your guests for sharing in your special day.
The bride and groom shown to the right are just getting ready to cross the road from Monet's house over to the Oriental water garden.
Fun Garden Related Resources
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- Gardener Gift
Chances are that if you love Giverny, you love gardening. Check out these amazing gardener gifts either for yourself or for your friends to send on a special occasion.