- The Readiness is All: Southern France, Days 0-1
- This is not an exciting post: Southern France, Day 2
- Èze You Is or Èze You Ain’t My Baby?: Southern France, Day 3
- Life’s a Beach, Then You Nap: Southern France, Days 4-8
- Sic transit gloria Nice: Southern France, Days 9-10
- Roll Up For the Mystery Tours: Southern France, Day 11
- Finding the Sources of It All: Southern France, Day 12
- Chamwow? More Like Chambord: Southern France, Day 13
- There Was A House in Old Orleans: Southern France, Day 14
- A Down Day, and a Look at Les Sources: Southern France, Day 15
- There Are Gardens…: Southern France, Day 16
Let’s just get one thing out of the way right now: nobody’s payin’ us nothin’ for nothin’. (Ok, that should have scared off the English majors, let’s the rest of us have some fun.) We’re about to spend basically the whole post talking about the hotel we stayed at, and they have no idea we’re doing it. It’s not that we want them to comp us anything, we just were genuinely taken with the place. There are several reasons, but the biggest is Gardener’s World on the BBC. (Pause for whiplash.) Like a lot of people in the lockdown, we were very attracted to soothing entertainment, and Monty Don and company talking about gardening as they follow the cycle of the year was just fabulous. We watched for a couple of years, although we’ve kind of lost the habit now that we live with *zero* garden and don’t anticipate one any time soon. While we came away with piles of practical tips for our own gardening, we were even more fascinated with the tours to majestic country gardens and explorations of specialized techniques for fancy people and fancy gardens. Then, totally by surprise, we lived in the middle of a fancy garden for several days.
Oh. We’re taking the time to share this now because we did nothing today. Zip. Diddly. A scheduled down day to relax and recharge. Worked like a charm. Anyway.
The premise is pretty simple: create a garden that requires almost no maintenance. Sure, easy, except for part 2 of the premise: it still needs to look good. Ahhhhhh here’s where the expertise comes in. If the garden isn’t going to be meticulously maintained, and you aren’t going to swap plants out every few weeks to maximize the visual impact, then the first thing that gets chucked over the side is flowers. I mean sure, there will be some, but if you aren’t there in the weeks when they bloom, tough poop, no flowers for you. Instead, visual interest has to come from texture and structure, as well as subtle differences in the palette of green that is deployed. Flowering plants that, when they lose their petals, leave behind an interesting bulb, seed head etc… are particularly valuable.
Whatever they paid the people who put this place together, it probably wasn’t enough. I mean, sure, maybe there are people in this world who move from one place to another that are all like this, but it sure seemed special to us. Everything coordinated but not in a matchy-matchy way; the walls of the buildings served as a canvas to better display the myriad light colors washing through the grounds. The plants they used created natural levels so that everything had its own stage. And since it all happened organically (I mean, we’re not idiots, we know a lot of care goes into a place like this, but it must be subtle) the place whole thing managed to maintain a completely rural and remote atmosphere while in actuality being a quite elaborate hotel, with pretty much every amenity under the sun up to and including bikes to peddle your way into Cheverny if you’d like.
Much like the day itself, there’s no clever button on the end of the post. We spent the day being cozy, and wandered the property a bit, and now you have, too.