A fine farm for florists and regal roses

Today I'm taking you to another part of the Chateau de Chenonceau estate, and a part you might not have heard of before, the farm. Yes I wasn't expecting to find one here either, and it was a lovely discovery. Especially as it was so pretty. And so French. We approached past the duck pond who, as you'd expect living so close to such a grand chateau also had some rather plush duck accommodation.

The 16th century farm buildings at chateau de chenonceau
Could this farm at Chateau de Chenonceau look any more French

The farm is a group of 16th century buildings and includes Catherine de' Medici's stables. One of the buildings houses a floral workshop where two florists work all year round creating the stunning flower arrangements which I've already shared. And it provides easy access to the vegetable and flower gardens nearby. But before we go there, just look at this honeysuckle I spotted. It's huge, and was lovely and fragrant when we visited, but growing in a way - like a cordon - that I'd not seen before.

honeysuckle at chateau de chenonceau grown as a cordon and in a way i've not seen before

Moving through one of the farm's arches, I got my first glimpse of the productive part of the garden. And I wasn't surprised at how orderly it was. I loved the grass between the crops - which is a similar approach I have in my allotment, it's just that in my allotment the grass is almost knee high!

My first glimpse of the orderly flower and vegetable garden at chateau de chenonceau

The cordoned fruit trees were in fruit too. And I promise when I took the picture below I was still on the right side of the path.

looking down on the miniature fruit trees bordering the vegetable and flower beds at chateau de chenonceau

There's twelve square plots each of them edged with apple trees and Queen Elizabeth rosebushes, hence the regal roses reference in the title. And lots of alliteration throughout this post. The whole space covers more than a hectare and like many of the potagers we visited is pretty as well as functional. 

Throughout the garden there was added interest, with wicker ornaments and metal wells. The sunflowers were growing tall and strong. And straight. Take a look at how thick their stems are. 

An archway with flowers growing over it at chateau de chenonceau
strong sunflowers growing straight, tall and in a line in the flower garden at chateau de chenonceau
the garden at chateau de chenonceau was interspersed with some intriguing items like this well head

And we were there when the peonies were out. They are still a June favourite of mine and were part of my wedding bouquet too. I always wonder at how they stay upright with their heavy blooms, and it seems they don't always. I think if I were a peony I'd be like this too.

the peonies in the flower garden at chateau de chenonceau struggled to stay upright

Actually if I was a peony I'd be more like these fuschia ones!

it seems the cerise peonies at chateau de chenonceau were heavier than the lighter coloured counterparts

What struck me about the roses - apart from the sheer volume of bushes in flower - was the supports they were growing up and against. Most were growing against quite humble wire fencing. But how it transformed it.

the regal roses growing in the flower garden at chateau de chenonceau
And white lilies also grown in abundance in the flower garden at chateau de chenonceau

In other parts of the garden there were bushes of lilies growing like I've never seen before. But if you've a house the size of Chenonceau to keep in fresh flower arrangements then it makes sense. These also look like they've got their own irrigation system too.

The heritage greenhouses are also hosts to roses, these ones were the palest of peach which complemented the stonework so well.

climbing roses on a wall at chateau de chenonceau making a pretty entrance to the working greenhouses


Close to the greenhouses I spotted an extra pot similar to those around the wall in Diane de Poitiers gardenalthough here it was planted with some spare santolini, rather than geraniums. Well, I assume it was spare. I guess using as much as they do in the formal gardens, it's always worth having some spare. 

some spare santolini at chateau de chenonceau no doubt for emergency use in the formal gardens

And it's a plant that is going on my plant list. I've been stalking it for a while so next year, is the year. Remind me if I forget!

Before I go, a puzzle. In the squash bed there were several of these wicker baskets on a stick (that's my name for them) and I've no idea what they're for. We've considered all sorts, but each of our suggestions seem just a little too odd, but maybe our ideas aren't quite as far fetched as we think. 

and a puzzle too, what are these wicker baskets amongst the squash plants in the vegetable garden at chateau de chenonceau for

If you know why the ten gardeners, who keep the gardens at Chenonceau so well kept, have "planted" these wicker baskets, please leave me a comment and let me know. And if you don't know for sure what they're for, I'd love to hear some of your wacky suggestions too.

Soon we'll be back on the bikes and back on the Loire a Velo cycle path heading towards Tours, which was the last stop - and biggest town - on our trip. I've mixed feelings about Tours. I love a big town, but had been enjoying the smaller countryfied towns and villages. I was pleased to get to Tours as I was keen to visit Villandry, but equally being in Tours and visiting Villandry meant our trip would soon be over, and that was less pleasing. But all that's for another day, until then let me know about those wicker baskets on sticks!

Love this #70: A quilted vegetable patch or three

Yes a quilted vegetable patch, in fact three. I saw these back in April when I went along to a crafting show at the Excel. I'd booked a slot at a learn to crochet session which ended up being cancelled and as I'd had to buy a ticket to the show I went along anyway.

Although I managed to leave the show with some crafting goodies, it was a small show and I probably wouldn't go again. The highlight for me was the quilts on display, today I'm sharing three of those, and the detail on them is exquisite.

1. The vegetable patch

This quilt by Megan Barley is inspired by a friend's allotment. The vegetables are instantly recognisable aren't they and the quilting on the background adds texture to the "earth".

A quilted vegetable plot

It's very clever and very creative, but there was more to come.

2. Growing Green

This quilt by Lesley Brankin held my attention for such a long time and even when I was writing this post my eyes continued to explore its detail. Carrots, beetroot and parsnips are all allotment staples and I love the seed packets, which were transfer printed. I'm also a fan of companion planting and making above ground look as pretty as below ground is productive. Sadly not something I'm achieving on my allotment right now, but give it time. And measure that time in years and I might be part of the way there!

Beetroot, carrots and parsnips on a quilt

I wanted to show you the detail on this quilt, so here's a couple of close-ups of the beetroot and of the flowers and butterfly.  And yes, there's embroidery and beads on there too.

A closer look at the beetroot and the seed packet
And there's companion planting flowers too

3. The allotment

Margaret McCrory's quilt has quite a story. Its inspiration was her daughter's allotment and the connection she had with her grandmother's garden, and she wrote about this on fabric, painted over it and then cut it up to use on the quilt. There's photos of flowers, fruit and vegetable memories too.  And I'm pretty sure I can see a shed, which as you know I don't have on my plot.

A quilted allotment plot - and it's got a shed!

And since I wrote that poem things have got worse as our makeshift bench storage has started to fall apart and needs some TLC. But that's for another day, today I'm just admiring and in awe of the skill on display in these quilts.  

Aren't they unique works of art?

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