My vacation last month was a big splurge – a trip to Paris and Oxford, in belated celebration of a significant birthday. I treated myself to a week in the City of Lights with my two sons, then took the Eurostar to London (senior discount: half price! I guess there are some advantages to getting older) where a friend who lives in Oxford whisked me away to stay with her for a week.
August may not be the best time of year to visit Paris, but I had no complaints. And although I didn’t go to photograph gardens, my new Nikon 24-120mm f/4 lens proved to be a reliable walk-around friend and I brought back a boatload of photos. Today, some scenes from the garden of the Hotel Biron, home to the Rodin Museum.
From the garden in front of the Rodin, you can enjoy not only roses and tightly pruned yews but also a stunning view of the Invalides.
As it exists today, this garden looks nothing like it did originally. (Rodin’s secretary – the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who discovered the site – described it as having “an abandoned garden, where rabbits can be seen . . . jumping through the trellises like in an old tapestry.” Add that to the fact that other artists such as Jean Cocteau, Isadora Duncan, and Henri Matisse were already occupying the premises, and one can understand the allure of moving in.) The rose garden in front of Rodin’s masterpiece, The Gates of Hell, was initially planted in the 1920’s, shortly after the building became the museum of Rodin’s works that it is today.
Paths flanked by sculpted yews, softened by roses, lead visitors to Rodin
A garden dedicated primarily to sculpture has to have its planting scheme and components chosen carefully. Most of the Hotel Biron’s grounds – as is true of many other public garden spaces I saw in Paris – are dominated by lawn areas and large yews carefully sculpted into conical shapes. The roses soften an otherwise very formal feel to the garden.
I was impressed with how many roses in bloom I saw in the garden, despite the lateness of the summer. There was even one named “Rodin,” created by the famous hybridizing firm Meilland. It originates from the Knock-Out rose; seven hundred of the Rodin roses were planted on the southern terrace of the Hotel. The color has been described as a “Tyrian purple,” but I thought it more pink in hue.
Speaking of the southern side of the Museum, it is a “knockout” by itself. A long central axis of lawn is flanked by two parterres (designed by landscape architect Jacques Sigard in 1993) with “thematic circuits.”
The rear garden area of the Hotel Biron
Hydrangea paniculata shrubs were at peak bloom in the parterres.
Panicle hydrangeas and other shrubs edge the parterres.
At the end of the rear garden is a large pond with Rodin’s sculpture Ugolino devouring his children (a cheery thought).
A view of the Hotel Biron from the rear of the garden, with one of Rodin
The grounds are meticulously maintained.
A groundskeeper at the museum prunes roses in one of the beds on a hot August day. Note the horse chestnut tree in the foreground, with leaves affected by a bacterium that has spread to many of these trees in France and Europe in general.
For more information on the garden of the Hotel Biron, click here. If you are in Paris and interested in visiting, the Museum is located in the 7th arrondissement, near the Invalides, on the rue de Varenne.
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This post marks the 100th “episode” of Garden Shoots! I’m grateful to everyone who has visited, whether regularly or only once.
Thanks to the demands of my fall design and planting schedule in the “real world,” Garden Shoot posts will appear on a every-other-week basis for the remainder of this year.