Villandry Garden of Love

Almost nowhere can you find a garden with so much symbology - and nothing more romantic for a Valentines Day post - than the Garden of Love at the Loire Valley Chateau of Villandry, France. this is the sexiest use of boxwood you may ever find. The garden, obviously dedicated to the topic of love, is divided into four sections:

Tender Love (right) Hearts separated by flames, in the center are domino masks worn at balls, which allowed “frivolous” conversations. I cannot comment on what the meaning of the phallic-shaped, ribbed topiaries might be.

Passionate Love (top photo, lower garden) The same hearts, but broken in passion. The areas between the shapes form a maze, representing dance. The colors red, pink & white are in equal amounts here, unlike the abundance of pinks in the Tender Love garden.

Fickle Love (partially seen in lower right in photo) Fans in the corners represent the volatile nature of feelings. There are horns of a jilted lover (in the center of the fans). The center itself represents the letters one would send a lover and contains yellow flowers (you can’t see them in this photo), the color of jealousy.

Tragic Love (partially seen in lower left in photo)  this garden shows the blades of daggers and swords used during rival lover’s duals. Here, there are only red flowers symbolizing blood spilled.

Behind the Love Garden are parterre gardens that contain the designs of the Maltese, Languedoc and Basque crosses. Each representing different areas of France. This garden also has the classic French fleurs de lys patterns made of boxwood and flowers.

The whole garden can be viewed from inside the chateau, or from the belvedere (elevated walkway) to the left of the gardens. What looks like a covered walkway on the right, are actually huge grape arbors.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

To see my post on the Villandry Potager garden, visit here. Visit Chateau de Villandry’s official site.

Disclaimer: This is my annual lazy-man's Valentine's Day post -- sorry for the poor photos of Fickle & Tragic Love. I took these photos almost five years ago, well before I ever considered having a gardening blog. Back then, I was just reading them.

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  1. Ow what a sexy garden is this - I had no idea. thank for bringin it to our attention.
    Actually I was thinking today to transform one part of the garden to knot garden - easy to care. just to trim once a year, right?
    Happy Valentines Day!

  2. I'm amazed at the vast number of art forms invented by clever artists. These gardens are beautiful. Rather high maintenance like the theme itself. Cheers.

  3. Ewa,
    Trim once a year. You keep thinking those thoughts. It is a sexy garden. I hope your knot garden turns out just like it.

    High maintenance definitely. I believe they have eight full-time gardeners. But love isn't supposed to be high maintenance is it? Isn't it supposed to be easy and natural?

  4. What a timely post (besides Valentine's)!

    We're making our plans for Paris. We had planned to go back to the south of France, but decided to go to Paris since Giverny and Villandry are on our "must see" garden list! We just got our apartment lined up today for our May trip.


  5. Wonderful post combining Valentine's day and gardens, and worth reposting for those of us who weren't reading your blog a year ago (or any gardening blog or even knew so many existed!)

    I have never been to Villandry but remember studying this garden in design school. Interestingly, despite the beauty of the individual gardens and the concensus that it is a good reconstruction of a classic medieval garden, the overall layout is not generally considered an example of good design, as the individual gardens are unrelated to the house or each other. This is easier to see if you look at a birds eye plan of the garden, but I doubt is so apparent when actually walking through in person. I am a sucker for parterres and potager gardens and would love to visit in person.

  6. Jim, I just LOVE this post! I learned something new that I won't soon forget. Thank you and Happy Valentine's Day.

  7. Now this is what I call a really informative Valentine's Day post. Very appropriate and full of great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

  8. Amazing post, Jim. I confess to having had no idea this place existed. I appreciate the tour and the lesson on how seriously Love can be's a Troubadour thing, isn't it? Very cool and thanks.

  9. Add me to those who had no idea bout this place. At first I thought they were models like for a model train or those curious villages people collect. Definitely cool but not something I will be emulating here. :-)

  10. That's somewhere I'd like to spend about a week taking pictures!

  11. I am really amazed ,I have never imagined a LOVE GARDEN..its beautiful...hats off to you ,jim!
    the colours ,the concept ,the layout all out of this world.

  12. i cannot get over the 'garden of love'....hence i am posting another comment.
    how did this idea come to you?
    I live in india so i cannot personally see your garden...but i am happy for those who can see it.

  13. Cameron,
    May will be a great time to be there! Springtime in Paris! I might also suggest a visit to Chaumont-sur-Loire for the International gardening show. And any other chateau you can get to see. Specifically, for gardens visit Chenonceau. And Chambord for the wild circular staircase.

    I may post this every Valentine's Day. I can't think of a better post. And the work's done already! I might agree that the garden, on whole is not a singular piece of design. It is very segmented into areas. The only area of the garden that relates to the house would be this Garden of Love, because the views of it can best be appreciated from a few second-story windows.

    This is definitely a garden that stays with you.


    I had no idea it existed until I started researching for our trip that year to the Loire Valley. No I want to go back and see more... and again.

    Had I known that within a year I was going to start a blog featuring gardens I've visited, I'd have taken more and better pictures. A week there would just get you started. I haven't even mentioned much about the vegetable potager there.

    Oh, this is not MY garden. I'd love to lie to you and say it was, but too many people know about Villandry. It is in France in the Loire Valley, it is a recreated garden around a chateau, based on medieval garden design. It's quite the tourist destination.

  14. Stunning! I can't imagine the work that goes into that.

  15. Great shots of an interesting garden. To see a garden from inside the villa is a plus but only if you also enjoy standing in the garden with it wrapped around you I would think. Such precision.

  16. Hello Jim! Your blog it's so inspiring...Hug

  17. Phillip,
    It has eight full-time gardeners, just seven gardeners shy of your part-time gardener.

    Both are unique experiences, bu you can't see the patterns well from standing in it. A problem in gardens of this scale. Not a problem in my garden.

    Thank you!

  18. Thank you all so very much for commenting on this photo, it was the most amazing garden, very captivating and I’m very glad you’ve enjoyed seeing this. And thanks for joining in the fun. I loved your explanations. thank you for shearing your post.

  19. Dear JC, A perfect choice of garden for Valentine's Day but one which, I am afraid, leaves me rather cold. Perhaps it is the huge scale, maybe the vibrancy of the planting, or possibly because it has been so over exposed in so many publications.

    I love formality but here it is so tightly organised one longs for the box to be left a little shaggy, the bedding to be less than perfect.

  20. Great post... love the pinks and red amongst the dark green.

  21. That is beautiful, I have a few forsythias that must be trimmed constantly to keep them from obstructing a walkway which gives me a greater appreciation for all the trimmed hedges. :)

  22. I probably can not say more than has already been said, but a very wonderful post. They symbolism executed so well.

  23. Wow, something like this can be only found in France. It looks awesome. :)

  24. What an amazing post! Thank you for allowing us to see what you have seen~

  25. What a spectacular garden--and post! I wish I was in that garden right now...

    Also--your poster is fantastic! Ordering one in just a bit. Thanks so much for sharing!

  26. That is truly putting the "Art" in gardening. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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