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
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 🙂
Thanks Béatrice, it was an absolute joy.