Our first port of call was outside of the Loire Valley or the Touraine as it's known in France, but sort of on the way. My brother had done a bit of research and came up with a Japanese garden that sounded interesting. Well interesting it certainly was and I would never have known of its existence if he hadn't mentioned it. I'm talking about the Parc Oriental de Maulévrier which is just outside of Cholet, between Nantes and Saumur.
I won't go into all its history as that is covered in English on their website (and in more detail in French), but suffice to say it is the usual case of a beautiful garden falling into disrepair after the war, and being brought back to life by careful renovation work in more recent decades, following original plans and photos. The town council own the park now which is separate from the chateau, Chateau Colbert, which is privately owned. The gardens were inspired by the Edo period in Japanese history and this has been recognised by visiting Japanese horticultural professors. It is now apparently the largest Japanese themed garden in Europe.
We spent a really enjoyable afternoon here - whether you are into gardening/gardens or not, just come for a walk - and bring your camera!! Here are some of the many photos that I took.
Chateau Colbert (what a view they have.....)
Cloud pruning, as you will see in the following photos, was everywhere. I absolutely love it, though did wonder how on earth they managed to prune the many trees that jutted out over the lake!
OK so how do they prune these trees then?! They must have scaffolding out over the water once or twice a year.
The bridge must be one of the most photographed parts of the garden, along with the pagoda.
A mallard having a preen of its beautiful feathers for the camera.
The far end of the lake.
From the far end are wonderful views back over the lake and the Chateau.
The planting was special with amazing maples - I fell in love with this tree and its seed pods (I don't know what it is, either maple or sycamore).
Of course there was a building with bonsai trees on display. There's a Salon de Thé and a boutique here too.
I didn't see many butterflies but in the sensory garden at the far end of the lake I came across these Meadow Browns.
The walk back on the other side of the lake - cloud pruning (if that is what it is called here) is still in evidence on these low lying shrubs. I love this style too but it must be oh so labour intensive.
The small purple tree here is 'my' Forest Pansy! I've never seen this tree planted anywhere else other than my garden and another in Rosie's, a fellow blogger's, garden in Scotland. Not very Japanese as I know it comes from N. America! It's Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' to give it its full name, known to N. Americans as the Eastern Redbud tree.
So that concludes the tour, but as I haven't any pictures of Mary Moho, here's one from home of K taking clothes on board. Well, it is a Moho trip after all....
More to come from the Loire Valley trip!