The visit to Courson was a wonderful day out but the International Camellia Society had arranged further trips for the following day and I was invited.
First stop was a tour of the Arboretum Vilmorin, courtesy of a personal invitation from Mme. Natalie de Vilmorin, whose family owns the property. The four hectare arboretum is located on the site of a former hunting lodge of Louis XIV, acquired by Philippe-André de Vilmorin in 1815. He transformed the grounds into a collection of trees and shrubs acquired by plant hunters from around the world. The arboretum contains nearly 2,300 identified species, many rare and large.
Although flowers were few and far between, to be able to walk amongst so many rarities with such a knowledgable host was a special treat.
We were invited to come again in the spring, an invitation I, for one, will be taking up.
Our second stop, after a meal in the Boulogne-Billancourt suburb, was to the Jardins Albert-Kahn. These were created between 1900 and 1913 by Albert Kahn, a banker and keen amateur horticulturist. There are several styles of garden, ranging from the Japanese garden and village, the undoubted star of the site, to formal French and English gardens. Amazing too, were the garden of blue Cedars and the recreation of forest habitats.
It is so easy to lose yourself in this fantastic garden and so difficult to believe you are in the centre of France’s largest city. Kahn is also famous for his photograph collections, recording the lives of ordinary people from around the world. He sent out photographers to bring back this record and they are regularly exhibited to today’s visitors.
As before, flowers were hard to find and another visit in the spring is a must for next year.