April 04, 2016


Michael Devine Ltd. strives to create beautiful products that are unique and always handmade. Using the best artisans in both the USA and France, every yard of fabric or piece of china is carefully crafted and made to order.

The Magic of Chatonniere

Chateau de Chatonniere
A few years ago I had the pleasure of visiting many of the famous gardens of the Loire Valley in France. I think this is to a gardener what going to the Super Bowl is to a football fan: the ultimate experience. Of all the gardens and all the chateaux we visited during this trip, it is one of the lesser known ones that continues to inspire me today. 

The Garden of Abundance is a stunning potager that is laid out after the shape of a rose leaf.
Each boxwood bordered section is filled with different vegetables that change through the season. 

This marvel of gardening imagination lies off the beaten path in the Vallee de L'indre. The property has been in the family since 1955, it was in the '80s that under the guidance of its owner Beatrice de Andia that these thirteen different gardens took shape. The former director of the l'Action artistique de la Ville de Paris chose a literary theme for each of the different spaces.

Above a detail of the simple bed borders. 

Eighty squares alternate with herbs and grass in the Science Garden. This checkerboard effect is achieved with 2"x4"'s planted in the ground. This is a technique we borrowed and have used in our own garden. It was easy to install and is very low maintenance.  



The Garden of Romance made from willow.
One of the most intriguing  gardens on the property is the Garden of Romance. It is composed of thirty rooms crafted from woven willow. Multi colored roses climb over it and to create a very poetic garden walk. The rooms are complete with windows in them which offer select views of the garden.

Details of the woven willow walls. 
There is nothing done in a small way in this garden. An entire hillside has been planted with multi colored cosmos. Each year the garden plants 130 pounds of cosmos, bachelor buttons and poppies. It is the work of 6 gardeners to maintain the property. 

Paradise, a hillside blanketed in cosmos. 

The 19th century greenhouse stands in the background (left photo) 
The garden of the senses was breath taking with it array of delphiniums, bachelor buttons, cosmos and roses mix with numerous other plants and flowers. It is next to the chateau's dovecote and has a beautiful fountain in the center. 


Standard roses stand at attention in the exuberant garden of the senses.
The property is ringed by forests which create a perfect background for the gardens. Strolling through this series of gardens with each one more spectacular than the last was unforgettable. Turn a corner and there you are, unexpectedly in a breathtaking forest carpeted in white and pink cyclamen.  

Two acres of cyclamen blanket the forest floor. 
Since we were there in the fall the dahlias were out in force. Now, if you want to see dahilas the place to go is La Bourdaisiere, owned by the Prince Jardinier, but that will have to wait for another day.

White dahlias standing happily at attention.