It’s been six long months since I traveled to France and nearly three months since I returned from England, but I only recently found the time to edit my photos from these trips. It was a happy experience to revisit those familiar days, but I also discovered a few surprises. One of the most astonishing is my pick for Most Photogenic Garden 2013—namely, Villandry.
Why was I surprised? Because, frankly, the garden was not among my tip-top favorites. It was both beautiful and impressive, but it was too grand to touch my heart and I was disappointed that each parterre of the productive garden was fenced and chained so only the primary avenues were open. Plus, I think my expectations were probably unreasonable. Though I had never seen it, I fell in love with Villandry in 2001 on my first visit to Rosemary Verey’s potager at Barnsley House, which takes its inspiration from the great French garden. I didn’t feel that same magic, however, until I studied this past summer’s photographs.
Here are a handful of my favorites.If you click on the photo above, the detail is astounding. Look at the truck full of new bedding plants, and the couple chatting with one of the gardeners.
Villandry’s Garden of Love comprises the four lower quadrants shown here. Beginning at the top right, the first parterre illustrates Tender Love with hearts and flames. Below it, in Passionate Love, the hearts become a swirling dance of emotion. Continuing in a clockwise direction, Fickle Love is represented by flirting fans and the horns of jilted lovers. Finally, the daggers and swords of bloody duels bring Tragic Love to life.