SATURDAY, 27TH MAY
Today we had a slower start as we had not quite worked out the most economical and time effective way for us to visit the Chateau of Villandry. We had a timetable for a 117 bus from Tours which, at this time of year, operates only two services out and two services back on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thus the visit needed to be today and we had already missed the morning bus. The lady in the Tourist Office suggested that we take the little tourist train. This was a good idea and we particularly enjoyed chugging through the old part of Tours. When back, there was a street flower market and a Food and Wine Event nearby – we loved the flower market, of course. After consuming some lunch we were finally on our way to Villandry at 13:30 on a hot/humid day in a bus without air conditioning.
VILLANDRY – Chateau et Jardins
Villandry, built in around 1536, is the last of the great chateaux built along the banks of the LOIRE during the Renaissance. It was my choice today to restrict my visit to the amazing gardens. “Maintaining the strict symmetry of these gardens requires constant care. Each winter the 1,015 lime trees scattered over the whole estate take a team of four gardeners three months to prune. If you place the box trees end to end, they would measure 52 kms and they have to be pruned between April and October every year. 115,000 flowers and vegetables are planted out in the gardens each year and 50% of these plants are prepared in the greenhouses. Since 2009, the gardeners have changed their modern growing methods for organic methods; digging and hoeing, and the introduction of auxiliary insects enables us to greatly reduce the need for chemical plant treatments. The layout of the vegetables is changed at each planting time, both for the harmony of colour and form and also for horticultural reasons, as it is important to rotate the crops every three years to avoid impoverishing the soil.”
This Garden is a horticulturists delight and for me, a place to soak in the beauty and to view the product of much planning and hard work of those who work in this superb place.