I went first to Monet's garden in Giverny. I had read, long years ago, Monet designed his garden as a painting. Not that there was a garden he chose to paint but that he had a vision in his head of a beautiful garden he wished to paint. The garden did not exist. In fact, during the late 1880's most gardens were formal. Like the public gardens at Versailles or the
Tuileries . Monet envisioned his garden as "clumps of color" and set about to create his vision.
I believe I read somewhere it
was 16 years before he actually
made a painting of his garden.
Once he was asked why he created his garden there in Giverny.
His reply, " Because the Earth grows good here" Just an hour west of Paris, within the boundaries of beautiful Normandy
everything appears to grow good.
Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of this visit was the size of the garden. It is huge. Just the garden at the house is huge, not including the Japanese water gardens. There are stately teuteurs supporting climbing roses and metal arches spanning the pathways for creating light rhythms while supporting plants at their blooming. It is more than the eye can hold.
Monet did more than clump his colors. He clumped shadow and light, he clumped textures and he clumped all of these at multiple heights. I read about how he begged for seeds and how , over time, few came to visit or paint or study or admire who did not come bearing the gift of a fine new plant. Monet was not a horticulturist, he was an artist and he viewed each species as a component of a composition. I will never look at a garden the same way again. As a strange aside, as I was experiencing the wonder of Monet's garden I thought, " How I loathe Monsanto! There will be no more century old gardens with terminator seeds".
When I look at the actual gardens and think about Monet's pallette I am stunned.
In his early, student days, he used the traditional darker paints. In the Impressionist years he wanted light, not dark. He is said to have organized his painters palette in a very specific order which included just 6 colors: white lead, cadmium yellow, vermillion, ,madder, cobalt blue and chrome green. To paint shadows with light was his mission. A right fine one.
I snapped this one last image as I was leaving Monet's home.