Sunday, 24 August 2014

Prieure d'orsan -  Loire Valley, France

We will be visiting Boussac a little later this year and as always, visiting the garden at Prieure d'orsan.   I looked back at my post on this garden and thought it might be quite a good idea to re-post it as I would love more people to know about this wonderful garden.  So for those who have already read it - apologies and for those who haven't,  hope it inspires you to visit!  Read more about the Garden and the Relais & Chateau accommodation here

There is a very special garden quite close to Boussac.    The Prieure d'orsan has been open to the public since 1993, and is now Relais & Chateaux approved, with eight guest rooms and an excellent restaurant.   This garden has become a sought-after destination for serious gardeners.

When Patrice Taravella, a successful Parisian architect and Sonia Leson, acquired this property near Maisonnais in the Loire Valley, in 1991, it was a ruin.  Several derelict buildings surrounded by barren land.  They saw the architectural possibilities, but "we needed to smell the air first," says Taravella, so they lived there for a year before the idea came to make a garden.  With the help of local gardener Gilles Guillot, the art of gardening from the pre-Renaissance times has been brought back to life.  Plentiful plantings of Hornbeams  have been hedged, fenced and coaxed to form  arbours, arches and buttresses, support structures, pyramids, circles and more.  There are raised flower beds,a  kitchen-garden, orchards, medicinal herb gardens, a rose garden and a secret garden... all so characteristic of monastery gardens.  

The out-buildings house a reception area and a restaurant offering  high-quality produce from the orchard and kitchen-gardens.  There is also an exhibition centre featuring exhibits relating to nature, gardens and landscapes.  The shop in the reception area is adorable - selling lovely items for the garden as well as books, gifts, etc.

We never tire of visiting this garden and have delighted the many guests we have taken here.  Please put this on your to-do lists when next visiting France, as I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

The photos are my own and to read more about this garden and hotel,  please click here

The Orchard

The Potager

I love the naive heart hugging the window

The Rose Garden

Apple trees trained to grow against the walls.


Patrice Taravella was recently commissioned to design a similar garden in South Africa.  This garden can be seen at Babylonstoren.   During a recent visit, we drove to Somerset West, not far from Cape Town to view the garden.  As the climate is completely different from the Loire Valley, some of the structures are similar but the choice of plants is very different.  The garden is still in it's infancy,  and I look forward to seeing it in years to come.

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