Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Country, Tis of Thee


My country, tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing: Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrim's pride, From every mountain side Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee, Land of the noble free, Thy name I love: I love thy rocks and rills, Thy woods and templed hills; My heart with rapture thrills, Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze, And ring from all the trees, Sweet freedom's song: Let mortal tongues awake; Let all that breathe partake; Let rocks their silence break, Thy sound prolong.
Our father's God, to Thee, author of liberty, To thee we sing: Long may our land be bright With freedom's holy light; Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King!

The words to the song, My Country Tis of Thee gives me chill bumps thinking of how blessed we are in this nation. As we celebrate our freedoms and count our blessings here we are celebrating and decorating our tables with red, white and blue! Our bloghop sponsor Chloe Crabtree named her blog, Celebrate and Decorate which is very appropriate for her. She is always decorating and celebrating and inspiring us.
 A list of all the bloggers participating in the hop and the schedule is at the end of this post.  Thank you Chloe for starting these tablescape blog hops two years ago. I have been inspired by all the tablescapers and have enjoyed their creativity so much. 

My table started outside but the humidity brought me inside for sweet tea and  watermelon. Both are staples for the south for summer celebrations.

How will you be celebrating the Fourth of July?
Two Fourth of July tablescapes from the archives can be viewed here.

My centerpieces were inspired by this arrangement I saw when I visited Château Chenonceau in the Loire Valley in France in May.

The U. S. and France have the same colors in their flags.
Did you notice I had two centerpieces? Which one do you like best? 
Table Resources:
Blue and White Pottery-Horchow
White Chargers-Ikea
Rattan Chargers- Pier 1
Cutlery-Williams Sonoma
Blue Stemware-Estate Sale
Napkins- Cynthia Rowley/T.J. Maxx
Blue&White transferware pitcher- Antique mall
Blue& White Planter- Bought years ago
Flowers-  Red Alstroemeria and white hyrangeas from Publix and dark blue hydrangeas from my garden
Links are provided below to view all the talented tablescapers patriotic tablescapes. It is always fun to see how creative and unique each tablescape is. 
Happy Fourth of July to each of you. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

Home is Where the Boat Is
Red Cottage Chronicles
Belle Bleu Interiors
A Casa di Bianca

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gardens in France

Welcome to my post,  Gardens in France ~ Left to right are Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, and Château de Villandry

In early May, my husband and I visited the Loire Valley in France. We toured five beautiful chateaus with gorgeous gardens. Château Chenonceau (pictured above) was the first château we toured and was definitely my favorite. I will be blogging about the amazing interiors in a later post but today I am concentrating on the gardens.

 Château Chenonceau was approached through an allee of old plane trees.   The walk to the grounds of the château was pleasant, with a nice breeze. As we left the shade of the trees, the view of the château and the immense and beautiful grounds did not disappoint. A matching pair of huge stone statuaries greeted us and led past a long row of impressive topiary planters on both sides of the road.  

Here is a close up of the huge statuaries that greeted us at the end of the allee. 

The keep on the left is called the Marques Tower and was restored in Renaissance style by Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briconnet in the 16th century. With the intention of building a chateau on this site, they demolished the fortified castle and mill belonging to the Marques family and left standing just the keep: the Marques tower. Also still standing now, besides the tower is the well, decorated with a chimera and eagle, emblem of the Marques family. I wish I had taken a close up of the well but we were encouraged to keep moving and I could see the huge château beckoning us.

Now pass the entrance and the tower  I want you to get an overall view of how amazing Château Chenonceau is.

The unique architecture of the chateau built across the River Cher is very impressive. This picture was posted at the entrance and I am glad I took a picture of it of because I couldn't photograph the view from the other side of the river. 

Château Chenonceau was built in the 16th century  and is one of the most visited chateau in France. Boats can pass through the arches and were used to deliver food and drink directly to the kitchen. Earlier chateaus were built for defensive purposes, but Chenonceau was the first great pleasure palace. In 1515, Thomas Bohier, revenue collector for King Francis I, began the construction of Château Chenonceau. Unfinished at the time of his death, construction of the chateau was completed by Bohier's wife and son. In 1535, however, King Francis I took the estate in payment of debts. In 1547, King Henry II, son of Francis I, gave the chateau to his "favorite" lady, Diane de Poitiers.( It was nicknamed the "chateau of the ladies" because it housed many famous women over the centuries.) 
Diane de Poitiers extended the structure by a bridge across the Cher and created gardens which were among some of the most spectacular and modern at that time. By building the famous bridge on the River Cher, she made the architecture of Chenonceau unique in the world.

Diane's Garden has two perpendicular and two diagonal paths that border eight lawned triangles decorated with delicate scrolls of santolina. The garden is bordered by raised terraces that protect the garden when water levels rise in the river Cher. They are decorated with gorgeous urns that were most elaborate.

I zoomed out to get a closer look at the urns.  There are a great many urns that go around three sides of the garden.
This is a Google Earth screenshot in which you can see the exquisite detailing on the urns.

This is another Google Earth photo. The estate is huge and this gives you a little perspective. 
This picture is on the other side of the Marques Tower and on the left you can see a glimpse of Catherine's garden. 
Moi in Catherine's Garden loving every minute. Catherine's Garden was finished in 1568. The garden had flowers, fruits and vegetables like melons and artichokes which at the time were considered exotic.

Looking out from the wall, you can see the river.

Chenonceau is an amazing architectual feat.
This is Catherine's Garden made from a balcony of the chateau. Remember the "ladies of the chateau" I mentioned. When King Henry died (pierced in a jousting tournament in Paris) Queen Catherine de 'Medici removed Diane de Poiters, from Chenonceau to Château Chaumont. Catherine added the three story structure across Diane's bridge.

Château Chenonceau was so enjoyable for me. I can't wait to show you the inside of the chateau. Every room had fresh flower arrangements in gorgeous containers.

I couldn't resist showing you one of the beautiful fresh floral arrangements. I found out later there was a flower and vegetable garden on the property that I would have loved to have seen. A team of about ten gardeners grows a hundred or so different varieties of flowers for cutting  and 400 rose bushes needed for the interior floral decoration of the chateau. My picture was hurriedly snapped because it was hard not to have people in front of the arrangements.

If you are not following Living With Thanksgiving on Instagram please join me. This photo is another of the fresh arrangements at Chenonceau. I posted this arrangement on my Instagram account a while back. It was my inspiration for a centerpiece I will be using for the Red, White and Blue Patriotic Tablescape bloghop this week, June 25-29. My tablescape will be Wednesday. You can check the schedule here for viewing other posts. There are quite a few of Pam's Gardens Galore regular readers as well as herself participating.

 We were told roaring log fires are burning in the winter in all the fireplaces. It was truly beautiful and so exciting. I can only imagine how beautiful it is at Christmas. To see amazing antiques, gorgeous tapestries and try to absorb all the history I was overwhelmed with all the details and such beauty.  
After a lunch at Caves Duhard in Amboise our next stop was the largest chateau in the Loire Valley, Château Chambord. We were with a small group of six and our guide that narrated our chateau tours.

The estate of Chambord is a national game reserve as large as the town of Paris. 

It was a long walk up to the huge château. Château Chambord has 440 rooms and and fireplace for very day of the year. Its four floors are each separated by 46 stairs giving it very high ceilings. Only 80 of the rooms are open for the public but that was plenty. 
Mike and I going into Château Chambord.

We were greeted by this medieval couple.
 On the ground floor the double helix staircase never fails to draw attention. It is believed Leonardo da Vinci took part in the conception of the project. The double spiral staircase is a highlight. It consists of two separate flights of stairs, twin helices proceeding upwards around a hollow newel post. It two persons choose to use different flights, they will see each other through numerous loopholes as they ascend without ever meeting.
Views from numerous terraces give splendid views of Chambord's Gardens.

Isn't it fabulous?

Because of time we viewed the gardens from above. We toured five chateaus in two days. The others not included in this post are: Château D'Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Minière and Châteaus de Langeais. 
Our next stop was the spectacular gardens of Villandry. I would recommend touring Château De Villandry in the morning when it is not so warm. By the time we got to Villandry after two other chateau tours that morning it was very warm. As you can see, the gardens cover a very large area.  I'm zooming in from the belvedere of the chateau which gives superb views over the gardens.
Video of the Gardens at Villiandry
I could do an extensive post on Villandry alone having a 47 page guidebook with details of each garden. Narrative written here are from that guidebook.
A few interesting facts about the care and maintence of the garden are that they employ 9 gardeners full time and there are two apprentices. Before the war, there were about fifteen gardeners. Machines are now used to save time, compared to the old methods, for watering and for pruning the boxwoods. Weeding is done entirely by hand with paring knives and hoes. Watering is automatic; it is controlled by computer to reduce the quanity of water to the strict minimum. Regular hoeing in the flowerbeds also limits the need for watering. Pruning the 1,050 lime trees are done with hydraulic pruning shears and a lifting platform. It takes 2 months and 4 men to prune the lime trees. Pruning the boxwood by electric shears takes 3 weeks for 4 men for the small boxwood in the vegetable garden and 6 weeks for the large boxwoods in the ornamental gardens. Pruning is done in June for the love gardens and the crosses and in October for the music garden. 
To brighten up the vegetable garden, several species of spring flowers are planted in the borders surrounding each of the nine squares: blue and yellow pansies in alternation, orange wallflowers and white forget-me-nots;these are planted out in the previous autumn(biennial plants). 
In summer the squares are edged with annuals such as red begonias, verbena venosa, helichrysum, bidens and gaillardia. To fill the kitchen garden, needed are a total of 20,000 flower plants and 30,000 vegetables in spring and 21,000 in summer, which means each year, with the two planting schemes, 71,00 plants in all.
Since 2009, in the vegetable garden chemical fertilization has been eliminated and replaced with organic fertilization methods.

Notice the urn on the left side of this picture. I made this photo in early May before the rose topiaries opened and I took it from above. You will be in for a treat if you open the following link to a instagram picture of the gorgeous urn with the roses blooming and also view the photographers full Instagram feed.
Chateau Villandry by Georgianna Lane. It is such a beautiful picture. If you do not have an instagram account you may not be able to open the link but I was able to get a photo in the next frame.

 This is the gorgeous photograph from Georgianna Lane. I was able to get a screen shot. I wrote and asked permission to use her photo but haven't heard from her yet.  If you do not follow her Instagram feed you are missing a treat. Georgianna is a talented photographer and her book Paris in Bloom (available on Amazon) is an exceptional book that I have enjoyed. She knew when to visit Chateau de Villandry when the rose topiaries were blooming. After doing an instagram search of Villandry Gardens this photo is by far the very best I saw. It took my breath away! Aren't the two shades of pink roses perfect! And that urn!

I have so much more to share on Gardens in France but this has gotten lengthy. On other France trips, we visited a hilltop garden in Dordogne~ Les Jardins de Marqueyassac, Jardins de Versailles, Monet's Garden, Jardin du Luxembourg,  and Jardin des Tuileries

Thank you, Pam for hosting your lovely Garden Party.

Reference resources include Chateau guidebooks and Rick Steves, Europe.

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