I LOVE gardens. Well to be exact I like visiting and looking at gardens. Whilst staying with friends they took us to a most delightful village, Saint Céneri le Gérei.
Hidden away on the edge of the village are some gardens, Les Jardins de la Mansonière, which have been constructed over 16 years by Michèle and Philippe Manson.
They have dedicated all those years in building a place where people can take pleasure in nature and even perhaps dream of how they want their garden to look.
In the official guide Michèle and Philippe say: "Dear visitors. It is our pleasure to welcome you to our garden 'La Mansonière'. "
"We cannot imagine a garden, solitary, for ourselves alone, without your company. It is evident to us that by some strange alchemy, a pleasure shared is a pleasure enhanced."
To us, as visitors, it is a pleasure to share what Michèle and Philippe have achieved.
Each garden offers something different, they take you into different settings, offer differing smells and give visitors the chance to relax and appreciate their beauty.
As the song goes, start at the very beginning. The reception is also where you finish the tour and they serve organic drinks and produce, provide information about other gardens, nurseries and craftspeople in the area and it is surrounded by five varieties of roses, two varieties of clematis and nine other plants.
From the reception you proceed to the garden ante chamber. A blue bench is placed in such a way that the visitor can just sit and take in the scent of the flowers and listen to the sound of water.
From the ante chamber you enter the Rose Garden. It is here that your senses are overpowered by the scent of almost 70 varieties of roses as well as clematis.
The eyes are dazzled by the myriad of colours, the nose by the perfume and the ears; by the buzzing of the bees as they pass from flower to flower. You can sit on a bench or in a small summerhouse and drink in the beauty around you.
When you are ready move on to the Garden of the Moon. They call it a feminine garden, a reflection, a fantasy. You will discover four varieties of roses, six varieties of clematis and ten other varieties of plants in green and white.
The Garden of Calm is a garden that Michèle and Philippe have changed and reinvented time and again. There are Japanese influences, weeping willows, ash, and walnut trees. Camellias, Magnolias, Azeleas and Peonies. On the lower terrace is a pond with fish.
Time to sit and take in the The Garden of Perfume. Here you can become heady with the scents that assault you day or night. Viburnum, Daphnia, Hyacinths, Violets, Primulas, Lilac, Syringa, Iris, Sage, Lavender, Hyssop, Carnations, Helycrisum, Lily and Roses; all vieing for your attention.
The patio is also called The Blue and Gold garden. This is a summer garden with the sun's disc at the centre and the flowers radiate out from the centre. There is also water gushing from a fountain in the form of head.
The crossroads of the gardens is named The Square Courtyard featuring ten different plants, Roses, Lavatera and Clematis among them.
Rounding a corner you arrive at my favourite part of the garden, The Stage. This name doesn't actually explain this part of the garden. A house sits among evergreens, then when the plants flower Hydrangea, Roses and Clematis are amongst eight varieties that turns this into a house of your dreams.
The Garden of Contrasts is divided into two parts. They name them Yin and Yang. The first garden is made of borders which change through the year by means of the eleven plant varieties.
The second garden sits behind the first shaded by pine trees and consists of vines, roses, St John's Wort and Ferns. A joining this is the Nuttery.
At the end of a path is the Gothic Garden which is divided into three parts. Firstly is a relic of an oratory. Secondly is a vegetable garden which consists of 'the essential foods of the twelfth century' and they are divided into rectangles. You will see Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Leaf and Root vegetables, Cereals and Pulses and Medicinal Herbs.
The third part is an Orchard. Apple varieties of the middle ages, Blackthorn, Wild Strawberries to name but a few and also plants used in dyeing and ornaments.
The Promenade is also a divided garden, 'the garden meets the countryside' and in the first part forty four plants comprise the mixed borders.
The second part is The Glade which is shadowed by oaks and houses twenty one different plants. It is in this part of the garden that, in the summer, Les Jardins Mansonière holds musical concerts.
The final garden, before returning to the reception, is The Green Room. As the name suggests the plants are chosen to represent the total sphere of the colour of nature. Fourteen varieties define this garden.
None of the gardens are difficult to negotiate but wheelchair users can only access it when the ground is firm. The vegetable garden path is very narrow and is not wide enough for a wheelchair with the user seated, so unfortunately people have to have a little mobility.
The gardens are truly beautiful and they are the perfect place to retreat from the stresses of everyday life. Michèle and Philippe speak excellent English, they make each visitor feel special and are happy to give advice on gardening. They are open, friendly and enjoy having young people visit the gardens and they will instruct them on plants.
It is clear that this is not just a business venture and hobby, but also a labour of love.
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What a fabulous description of these gardens! I must definitely take time out to go and visit them. Thank you for taking the time to write about them so beautifully.
Posted by: Judy M | 26 July 2008 at 06:12
Hi Judy, so glad you enjoyed the piece and I know Coral will be really pleased to read your message, I hope you are able to visit the gardens.
All the best
Posted by: Craig McGinty | 26 July 2008 at 10:29