Temperatures dropped drastically in the last few days and we are heading towards winter in a straight line. While the autumn colours in the garden are starting to fade and rain is falling plenty out of the sky, I will travel back in time. In September we, almost by accident, visited the gardens of Bois des Moutiers on our way back from Normandy to Belgium. The gardens are closed for winter now, but you can put this garden already on your list for next spring.
This beautiful estate is located in a lush valley that snakes down towards the cliffs and the beach. When Guillaume Mallet bought this wild valley in 1897 he immediately saw the potential. He hired the, now famous, young architect Edwyn Luytens to redesign the existing house on the site in real Arts & Crafts style. Luytens brought along the world renowned English garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to do the gardens in harmony with the house. The estate had its fair share of tough times, but survived occupation of Nazi troops and rough financial times. The Mallet family opened the domain in 1975 to the public and is still taking great care of the gardens and park.
The domain can be roughly seen as two inseparable parts, the more formal rooms and the lush park, both different in atmosphere but nevertheless connected with each other. Around the house you have some different garden rooms, designed by Gertrude Jekyll, of which the layout relates to the rooms in the house. These rooms are interconnected with the typical brick paths and a long pergola. You start your journey in the white garden…the most secluded of the gardens and when going further the rooms will become bigger and more open. Although the garden is on top of the beautiful chalk cliffs, the soil is quite acidic and this is perfect for the large collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangea. Also nice to mention is the collection of magnolias near the house. The fact that this protected valley has some kind of a micro climate makes that even more exotic plants can thrive here.
It was a very pleasant stroll through this 12 hectare park. From the terrace near the house, surrounded by different kind of Hydrangeas you have a stunning view on the forest and the sea in the back. From there some winding paths take you in the lush forest along small creeks and a wide collection of trees . Take your time to explore this beautiful place. Once you our out again you can go further down the road and right in front of an old church turn into a little path that will bring you to the beach at the foot of the magnificent cliffs.
Bois des Moutiers : Route de l’Eglise – 76119 Varengeville sur Mer, France
Opening Hours : From 15 March to 15 November : Every day from 10h00 to 20h00 (Note the ticket office is only open from 10h00 to 12h00 and from 14h00 to 18h00 )