Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Saint Andre Gardens

Another French garden I liked was Abbaye Saint Andre Gardens in Avignon. Different from the Loire gardens, very south-of-France, very Provencal. Hot sun and dry gravel, hard shadowlines. It was scorching hot and cicadas were absolutely screaming while I was there.

The site began as a hermitage in the 6th century, and was an abbey and a fort and then at some point it was abandoned. A woman named Else Koeberle developed it as a garden from 1915 to 1950, and it’s been open to visitors since the 90’s. It has a lot of the elements that I unofficially consider typical of the residential French garden: A shade tree in a little island of planting, the trunk surrounded by a skirt of plants. A small table set on the shady side of the tree. Some detail of the architecture carried over to the parterre of the garden, in this case the arches of the fort. A rose or roses against the building. An overall plant palette of not-my-favorite-plants such as oleander. And then around the garden there’s all of the cool historic architecture and the views of the surrounding landscape.

Is the Cosmos meadow ingenuous or sophisticated, I don’t know.

The view of Avignon is a winner but it was too hot to be out of the shade

And there’s a military cemetery area with an altar that felt sort of like an outdoor crypt, blazing sun instead of the typical crypt gloom. It would be fun to see a plant lecture given here, someone standing at the altar, lecturing with a thick French accent about how great Oleander and Cosmos are.

A fun French garden.

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