When I got home from France, my garden welcomed me with some pleasant sights. But it was dry while we were gone, and not all the trees are fully in leaf even now.
It all looks skimpy. I still have in mind the lushness of Paris in full spring leafiness and especially Monet's garden exploding with color. Everything here seems diminished in comparison.
The streets of Paris and every little town in Normandy were lined with horse chestnuts, or what I call buckeye trees, in full bloom. The Seine riverbanks were too, all up and down the river, and they were massive.
We spent days on the Normandy coast at St. Malo and Mont Saint Michel, and of course the D-Day beaches, then more days cruising up and down the Seine river to Paris and Rouen and Vernon and St. Andelys. The medieval towns and cathedrals were awesome, but it was the flowering buckeye trees on the way that captivated me just as much.
Crabapples and laburnum, or golden chain trees, were also in bloom, like these in Monet's garden.
All over Normandy, where apple cider and calvados are king and queen, the apple orchards were in bloom.
Did you know that Normandy is named for the Vikings who invaded in the 9th century? They were the "north men" or Nor-men who settled this part of Europe. Now you know.
My own garden is nice, and I was so glad to see it after a long flight home. But in no way can it compare to the intensity of Giverny. It's the way Monet's space is so densely layered, crammed, stuffed and eye-poppingly rich that I can't get out of my head. It is, of course, an Impressionist painting made with plants.
There isn't much actual design -- the layout is not a feature, it's the use of plant colors that is so amazing. Such as clear purple in the abundant wisteria at the waterlily pond.
There really is no other plant so exotically lush when in bloom. The gardeners must work to keep this rampant monster vine in check and looking so delicate and perfect for the space. They must prune it hard and often.
Even the silver gray mauve of the pond itself has a complex, rich color.
Bright tones abounded all over. What I can't wrap my head around is that it is all concurrent -- roses and tulips and azaleas and forget-me-nots and foxgloves and irises and camassias were all out in full bloom at the same time.
How does that even happen? I have most of these plants in my garden and each is nice in its brief time of flowering, but is gone by before the next opens. None of those are ever remotely in bloom at the same time.
But they all are in Giverny.
Of course, Monet had seven full time gardeners, and apparently he ran them ragged. It is speculated that he was bipolar, and his gardeners took the brunt of his stormy whims to create his artistic vision in plants.
I will never have the benign damp climate, the painterly eye, or the funds and energy to come close to what these gardens look like. I don't live where spring comes early and opens lush.
And I will never have the seven full time French gardeners it takes to make a garden like Monet's.
Ah, c'est la vie.