Prieure d'orsan - Loire Valley, France
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
|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.