Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild – what a gem!

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The second garden visit I managed to slip in during last week’s French sojourn was the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild overlooking the Bay of Villefranche and the Bay of Beaulieu, about 10 kilometres from both Nice and Monaco.

The Villa is situated on the Cap Ferrat peninsular and has spectacular views in all directions.

Béatrice de Rothschild bought the land in 1905, having recently divorced her husband (a banker, Maurice Ephrussi) and lost her father and consequently inherited a tidy sum.  At the time, the plot was just a rocky outcrop and she set about both building the villa and landscaping the beautiful gardens.

Maybe it was the weather, or maybe the views, but I really do think this was one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve visited.  Not only was the site incredible, but the design, apparently designed to echo the prow of a ship (to fit the peninsular’s shape), led you on a wonderful journey through different gardens from Spanish to French to rose and exotic. What an adventure!

The entrance, to the western side of the house, took you past this rather glamorous display featuring, yes, marigolds!  However, the thing that intrigued me were those marvellous Asparagus ferns.  What a gorgeous fresh colour and funky shape!

Through to the Spanish garden and whilst I’ve seen Brugmansia (previously Datura) before, I’ve never seen them in such a gorgeous soft peach, never planted as an avenue lining both sides of a pool, and also never such an astonishing display of glorious, pendulous blooms.

The sign suggested this one is B. x candida and I’m so taken with it I’m tempted to see if I can get it to grow here.

As well as exotic blooms, there were plenty of plants you could grow in the UK – this rose and perfectly matched bizzy lizzy for example,

or striking Salvia

(maybe) Cuphea and Hibiscus

or a peachier Hibiscus.

This first view out of the gardens was looking north west towards Villefranche.

and here, in a similar direction, through a beautiful iron gate,

and again, through an arbour.

Here, looking due west

and again.

I loved the extraordinary colour of this plant –  I think it’s an Iochroma

The Exotic Garden had a similar array of plants to those at Eze, but (to me) not quite as successful, perhaps because they were amongst non exotic trees as a backdrop?

Next came the Rose Garden, covering quite a significant area, and still smothered in a restrained palette of rosy blooms.

However, what was extraordinary was the fact that the very ‘English’ Rose Garden was smack bang next to the Exotic Garden.  So much for ‘right plant right place’ – amazing what an irrigation system will allow!

The Rose Garden was the furthest (south) from the villa so we started to make our way back, through the Provencal Garden, past Leonotis leonurus planted with lavender

a stunning Salvia

and yet more views, firstly, almost south towards Paloma Beach

and then looking east towards Cap-d’Ail

Back to the gardens, the final ‘hurrah’ was the French garden, clearly seen from the villa and consisting of a formal arrangement of beds and pools, where, according to the website “To add to the fairytale feel, musical fountains spring from the large pond like a grand aquatic ballet.”

Beyond icing and beyond cake, just wow  🙂 

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Thanks Béatrice, it was an absolute joy.

In a vase on Monday – Moody loos

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So I popped into the garden at lunch time to pick some blooms and it really looked like the end of the world.  The light was a deep orangey/black, apparently caused by Saharan sand whipped up by Hurricane Ophelia.  Weird!

This equally moody amalgamation consists solely of blooms from the mid century bed – Dahlia ‘La Recoleta’

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Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ (just seen bottom left) and Salvia.  Not sure which this one is, but it has a delicious blackcurrant scent to the leaves.IMG_3623

And why the title?  I think you can guess..

With thanks to Cathy who hosts all our vases, wherever we put them!

Taking it Eze-y on the Cote d’Azur

We’re just back from a last minute walking holiday to the Cote d’Azur, blessed with absolutely fabulous weather.

Aside from walking around 9 miles a day, I was delighted to squeeze in two garden visits.  The first was Eze which turned out to have a wonderful Exotic Garden (Jardin Exotique d’Eze), perched on a rocky pinnacle.  Not only were all the plants in fabulous condition, but the garden was enhanced by elegant sculptures of rather elongated ladies by Jean-Philippe Richard,

as well as stunning vistas in every direction, both inland

and out to sea.

Oh, and see the umbrellas below?  They turned out to be on the terrace of the Chateau Eza Hotel which served a very good cup of coffee with the best ever biscotti.   Worth every one of the 24,565 steps it took me to get there!

 

In a vase on Monday – three seasons in a day – and thwarted Thursday!

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Let’s start with late spring, exemplified by sweet peas, together with the Panicum ‘Frosted Explosion.

Followed by summer, with Malope trifida ‘Alba’, Cosmos ‘Psyche White’ and Nicandra physalodes (Shoo-fly).IMG_3364

And autumn, with a mix of Dahlias, Salvias, Cosmos and late flushing roses (Pat Austin and Munstead Wood). IMG_3362

The arrangements above were all created on Saturday, which sadly was too late for Thursday’s island birthday celebrations for the OH.  

We were having dinner in a local restaurant, with drinks at home first.  I’d hoped to arrange flowers for the house, and had even wondered about taking some little arrangements to the restaurant.

Sadly, thanks to a signal failure and swans on the line (yes really), my attempts to get back from London by early afternoon on Thursday were badly thwarted and I got through the door at around 6, with guests arriving at 6.30.

Obviously a sane woman would have forgotten the flowers and gone and got changed, but not yours truly.  No, I went running around the garden gathering a great armful of blooms and was still shoving them in a huge vase as the first guests arrived…

The result, photographed a day later, looks rather sad, but I promise it did look a little better on the night (and a little less flat in the middle).  IMG_3309

With thanks to Cathy who hosts all our Monday vases.

End of month view – September 2017

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The best bit about this view is the newly mown, stripy lawn – thanks hubs!

Taking the usual End of Month tour takes us firstly past the metal troughs which have been taken over by two enormous, self seeded Shoo-fly plants (Nicandra physalodes).  I confessed last month that the Cosmos and trailing Sweet peas planted in the troughs this year were unhappy with such hot roots, so I’ve let the Shoo-flies take over.

The plan for next year is an abundance of Pelargoniums – reckon they’ll be happier?IMG_3322

Talking of unhappy, the Veg Patch is a little sorry now too.  Not only have the cutting flowers largely given upIMG_3325

but the Diving Lady’s pool has dried up, and the beans have fallen over.IMG_3327

And those of a sensitive disposition look away now – I seem to be feeding the Island’s Cabbage White caterpillar population with my ‘Flower Sprouts.’

The Flower Sprouts are a cross between kale and Brussel sprouts, which supposedly grow ‘baby’ kales (kalettes), at the leaf axils (where you’d ordinarily find the Brussels).  I’ve been trying to convince myself that I don’t need the leaves as they’re not the crop, but I guess without the leaves there is no ‘engine’ to grow the ‘kalettes’.  Hmmm.IMG_3324

On a cheerier note the Swing Beds are still colourful, with even a Lupin in bloom.IMG_3330

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On the Swing Pergola itself there is a veil of flowering Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles.’IMG_3336

Whilst up close they’re very pretty, from a distance I have to admit they’re rather a mess!IMG_3334

Interestingly, the Cosmos in the Grass Bed which got damaged in earlier windy weather, has now all but disappeared, with the white Malopes and self seeded Nasturtiums taking over.  IMG_3338

In the Mid Century Bed the Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’ has been hauled back upright having flopped right over the path, and is still providing fabulous foliage to accompanyIMG_3319

the remaining blooms, particularly the Dahlia ‘La Recoleta’ and the roses.

I’m also delighted that the Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (planted in April) has survived despite my rather haphazard attentions over the summer and is now looking settled.

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The Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin f rosea), planted at the same time as the Cercis, is also fine, but looking a little overwhelmed by the Asters in the photo below!

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In the Greenhouse beds, my clearing of the Nasturtiums last month (in an effort to expose some soil for the poppies to self seed) didn’t exactly go to plan.  Instead, the Nasturtiums are back in force and sadly, there’s no sign of any poppy seedlings.IMG_3342

In the Greenhouse Pots, a Sarah Raven combo has been flowering for months – Arctotis ‘Flame’ and Thunbergia ‘African Sunset.’

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Whilst in the greenhouse, most things are coming to an end,IMG_3343

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the cuttings are just beginning.IMG_3344

One thing I’m hoping to grow more of is this Pelargonium ‘Choun Cho.’IMG_3345

Along by the house, the Flower Carpet roses are back with a vengeance and smothered in buds.

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Buds too on the Nerines.IMG_3351

Round the corner the inherited roses by the gate are reflecting the (definitely inherited!) pampas.

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In the tin bath at the top of the steps, the Osteospermum ‘Serenity Rose Magic’ (also from Sarah Raven) have survived best of everything in here.  I took plenty of cuttings at the weekend so hopefully I’ll have more next year.IMG_3353

The Bronze Bed is still doing well – the ‘Happy Single Dates’ are only looking a little thin because I’d picked loads for a big vase.

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And to finish, better late than never.  My neighbour gave me seedlings of Morning Glory ahead of June’s garden opening, but sadly I didn’t get them planted out until quite some time later.  But look, they’re flowering now – thanks Rosy!

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With thanks too to Steve, at Glebe House Garden, who has taken over hosting End of Month views.