Since 1992, every year from April to November Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire becomes an international garden festival showcasing the skill and creativity of landscape designers, architects, and artists inspiring its 150,000 annual visitors. Furthering the concept of garden as art begun by Le Vau at Vaux le Vicomte and the 400 year old legacy of Le Notre, Chaumont prides itself on the successful interaction of the past and the future, tradition and technology and the resulting pleasure at the hand of labor.
During the past 22 seasons approximately 580 gardens have been installed on the Jacques Wirtz designed grounds. Garden 'rooms' with walls of high hornbeam separate each exhibition garden creating a sense of anticipation and discovery. Each garden interprets the theme selected for the year and the resulting executions range in style from an avant-garde spin on a classic to an utterly mad high maintenance plot. On my first visit to Chaumont in 1997, I delightedly found water to be the theme. Fifteen gardens ranging from a mini hanging gardens of Babylon to the ethereal "Willows in the Mist" it was a visit that altered my thinking about gardens. Letting the imagination go, is, more often than not, easier said than done, as moving trees and hedges is far more labor intensive and costly than rearranging the furniture in your living room. Exploring the opportunities in the landscape, moving the earth, selecting material, and creating a story is the challenge faced every year at Chaumont.
The theme of the 2014 garden festival, "Gardens of the Deadly Sins," awaited those who ventured to this UNESCO world heritage site once the home of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Lust, avarice, gluttony and greed played out through plants and trees will make you scratch your head, puzzle the best of gardeners and at the same time delight all.
A garden makes complete sense as a medium for interpreting temptation, after all, isn't that where it all began?
For a visual tour of Chaumont view the C'est Inspire.
For further reading on Chaumont, and other botanically themed destinations in Paris and beyond read Charlotte's post on the NYTimes blog here...
Through November 2, 2014.
International Garden Festival: Gardens of the Deadly Sins
Domaine Régional de Chaumont-sur-Loire