Hedges galore at Chateau de Villandry & Chenonceau in the Loire Valley
On a recent visit to France, I stopped at the famous gardens of the Chateau de Villandry and further down the Loire Valley at the Chateau de Chenoceux. The amazing gardens at Villandry have over 52 miles of hedging – mainly of Box, Yew and Hornbeam – including a Hornbeam maze. The potager (formal vegetable gardens) at Villandry are surrounded by dwarf hedges and the vegetables are grown in colour-co-ordinated blocks to dramatic effect. In other parts of the garden, the hedges provide a surround to the planting of different herbaceous perennials and shrubs such as Gaura and Perovskia. Even the newly-opened “Sun Garden” with its much less formal garden of shrubs and herbaceous perennials, still had miniature hedges lining the edges of the beds. In all, the gardens spread out across 12,500 square metres and are lined and surround by avenues of lime trees and formal hornbeam hedges.
At Chenonceau, the gardens were also stunning and included a maze of yew hedging consisting of over 2000 plants and covering more than a hectare. In the formal gardens, topiary Portugal Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) show how this hedging plant can be shaped and kept to any size. The kitchen and cut-flower gardens were also fabulous and with gladioli and Verbena bonariensis in abundance. Around the gardens were Laurel and Photinia hedges – showing that these hedging plants are not just useful in the UK but also across France.