Thursday, 16 September 2010

Chaumont - Body and Soul

The Socks are visiting the annual Festival of Gardens at Chaumont staying a couple of nights at the gorgeous Belle Roche B&B down river at Amboise, a mansion house perched on a ridge looking down over some immaculate allotments to the romantic river Loire.  Our room is spacious and elegant with a luxurious bathroom and our breakfast includes the obligatory coffee, croissants, warm home made breads and a slice of what seems to be a meltingly rich chocolate brownie!!! Mmmmm...

It is fabulous weather for garden viewing – warm, blue sky'd with the kind of nearly autumn sunlight that imbues everything with a slight golden glow.  There is much to see at Chaumont, a castle, parkland and woodland walks not to mention exhibitions... much more than our allocated day's worth which we are dedicating to the FOG alone. 

This year's garden theme is 'Body and Soul' and the gardens are an eclectic selection including dull, witty, dreary, vibrant, playful, ridiculous, chic but overall great fun and interesting. 

Le Creux de la Main – the Socks loved this one.

The texture of the pipe wall was wonderful

Le vilian petit jardin was one the Sock's favourites.  It represented the “soul” of an imaginary character who we shall think of as Matthew Wilson. In short (as the description goes) Matthew is often in a foul mood and deliberately dumps dirty smelly things in his garden to make it ugly.   But nature works against him and gives the garden back its soul as his rubbish is an ideal place for plants to thrive!

Personally I think Matthew Wilson should be using Persil in his pants wash!

Iglooik  ultima – was just incredibly dull despite having an incredibly lengthy pretentious description of its meaning.  They could have summed it up as "some pots in a car park".

Main dans le main had a route round it of pink and blue stepping stones.  The aim was for a couple to choose a colour, hold hands and make the circuit of the garden without breaking hand contact – a mirror reflecting the journey which was easier said than done.

Cheveux des Anges was fabulous visual art

Calligrame was interesting if only for the fact that a rather strange French woman was placing a (not particularly attractive) Japanese bowl and tea-cup in odd locations within the garden and photographing them. The Bedsock was roped in to try and take a nice picture of her holding these articles within the garden – he obliged but she wasn't pleased with the photographic results which was hardly surprising as she looked ridiculous. We didn't think she was part of the art installation. The photo below may have been more interesting if she had been in it!

And then another calamity! After the trauma of losing two of the Beardibums the Sock felt the rest of them deserved a holiday.  One was selected from the jar and taken around Chaumont. All was well until we reached what can only be described as the 'Pole Dance' garden although the actual name of it was Cupidon s'en fou and it  bore one of the more pretentious descriptions including...

“Out of embarrassment we explain to children that they were born among the roses or cabbage …  as they grow up, from one adventure to another, they find out that there are a succession of truths one after the other, that these truths are also complementary and build our intimate convictions.  Sometimes an intuition appears in the heart of our Cartesian certainties and is enough to call everything into question, from our conception of the Universe to the flight of Cupids arrows.

Under these conditions, even our conception of Space and Time is no longer the same... etc. etc. blah”

Unfortunately as we entered the garden the Beardibum saw this cherub in a bottle and started to get agitated.

When he saw the picture below there was a little squeal of “Daddy!” and that was it he was off!!! So now we are down to 21 Beardibums!

On a more serious note there were several gardens on the theme of caring for disabled people.  Nearly all of these were wheelchair unfriendly with loose gravel paths (the worst thing possible for trying to hoik a wheelchair around) and steps.  One in particular called 'Care and Carer' was almost impossible for wheelchair navigation which made its title insensitive to say the least.  As the Sock has had occasion to use a wheelchair in the past this kind of thoughtlessness is only too prevalent.

Overall a fab day out and we could have spent hours longer.  Celeri remoulade, paté de lapin, runny camembert and walnut bread which had made its way off the breakfast table into the Sock's bag, made for a perfect picnic lunch whilst sitting in the shade contemplating the Chateau de Chaumont as the backdrop.


Ms B said...

Tray bien mon petit choux cake.

So were those Mathew Wilson underpants re-cycled from Hampton Court last year? They do get about!

Roland Paterson said...

The pole dance garden is where my avatar comes from. A self portrait in one of the mirrors. Glad you enjoyed it. Did you like the one where you had to go under the timber to get in and all the plants are then at eye level? Loads of succulents and alpines. The pants made me laugh!

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Love the "greenhouse and chairs" in what looks like a pond - that would suit wet wales very well!

Interesting to visit Chaumont with you, the bedsock and the Beardibums


Anna said...

Enjoyed your post. I was there in early July - they must have revived the igloo creation as a good number of the pots of sage were dead back then. The cabbages and roses had me bamboozled so much so that I did not espy the imprisoned cherub. The star of the show for me was 'Cheveux des Anges' although I also was taken by the rustic ' Le vilian petit jardin' and those underpants. Enjoy the rest of your stay.

Plant Mad Nige said...

What an enjoyable tour! It bears out my contention, though, that when designers submit their garden briefs, in flower shows, they should be strictly limited to 75 words.

Speaking of briefs, those ones on MW's garden were gargantuan! Has fatherhood caused weight gain, do you think?


Dawn/LittleGreenFingers said...

Can we swap lives? Yours seems infinitely more glamourous and offers a far better standard of accommodation, snack and entertainment.

In fact, bar the 'still grey despite several washes' underwear in one of the shots, I fear we occupy different planets.

Must go and put on fifth load of washing now...