The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 16

Bringing you the best of France including captivating towns like sunny Montpellier, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antiques capital of Provence, Gascony, Chateaux of the Loire Valley, Paris, Lyon, a long lost cheese story, mouth-watering recipes and a whole lot more.

The gardener at the

The gardener at the Chateau de Chenonceau Of course, all those flowers and fruits used in the spectacular displays have to be grown and that takes place in the stunning gardens overseen by American gardener Nicholas Tomlan. He came to France to take this job from Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania - named the best botanical Gardens in America by USA Today. He’s now the brilliant botanical director at the chateau. “In the old days, they’d grow root vegetables here” says this affable gardener “no flowers”. Looking around at the formal beds with a mix of vegetables and flower and roses spilling over walls in what is now the walled vegetable garden I can’t imagine it any other way. But, it wasn’t until the Renaissance days that flowers were grown simply to look good and to decorate the interior. Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici both loved flower displays in the chateau. Records tell us that some of them were “monumental” taller than a man, flamboyant, colourful and showy. “Nowadays it’s a mix of flowers and veg for the displays and also for the restaurant” says Nicolas as he stoops to pick some lettuce to put in his basket for the chef. “The queen would have never visited the vegetable gardens, but the flower gardens – absolutely”. I’m sure she would have approved of Nicholas’ work and would recognise the style. These gardens were recreated using drawings from the late 1500s. There are gorgeous giant wicker bird cages in which flowers grow, wild flower meadows, formal parterre gardens and the most beautiful arrangement of colour and blooms. The seven gardeners here grow more than 130,000 plants each year and the gardens are as important a place to wander and admire as the chateau itself.

Above: gardening in the rain; below left: Nicholas and Jean- Francois discuss the flowers; below: the vegetable garden