Gardens of Normandy with Jimi Blake

Gardens of Normandy with Jimi Blake

Wed 28th Aug to Sat 31st Aug

 Tour highlights:

  •  Monet’s garden at Giverny – we will take a guided tour of these iconic gardens, the flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side of the road.
  • We will wander through Jardin Plume with its undulating edge which contain the billows of exuberant plants
  • Jardin de Valerianes, is the quintessential Normandy country garden: a sumptuous collection of trees, hydrangeas and perennials
  • Bois des Moutiers is a architectural and horticulture fusion born from the collaboration of owner Guillaume Mallet and the partnership of Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.
  • Jardin Le Vasterival sets standards that all gardeners should aim for but few will attain.
  • Staying in the beautiful city of Rouen

Day 1 – 28th August 2019

Leaving Dublin mid-afternoon, we will be met by our coach at Charles de Gaulle airport.  He will then take us to our hotels in the center of Rouen.  You will have a opportunity to explore this lovely city.

Day 2– 29h August 2019

Our coach will collect us at 9.30am and we will travel up the coast to St Marguerite sur Mer in the morning, where we will find Jardin Le Vasterival, home to the late Norwegian Princess Greta Sturdza.  For more than 50 years (1955-2009), Princess Greta transformed 30 acres of wild thicket into magical undergrowth where the shapes, colours and scents of the 9000 species and varieties blend in perpetual change.  Following her death in 2009, her loyal team together with Princess Irene Sturdza work diligently to keep this unique garden thriving and open all year. Protected by the lie of the land, the garden benefits from a micro-climate which has allowed one of the finest plant collections in France to be put together. We shall find woodland walks, long valleys, streams, bogs and hillside borders of glorious foliage plants. This garden offers us a myriad of choice between secret paths leading to dense, jungle-like plantings and long, serene vistas across open glades. The Princess’s planted for the changing seasons, and those who visit the garden year-round comment on how the garden in always in bloom. We will be met by one of the team who will guide us around this inspiring garden. Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor in their book, The Gardens of Europe, say: “Few gardens elicit superlatives as easily as Le Vasterival. It sets standards that all gardeners should aim at but few will attain”.

Following lunch, we will travel on to Bois Des Moutiers.  In 1897, Guillaume Mallet became the owner of this large estate overlooking the sea. He acquired the site while it was still wild and in 1898, he entrusted Edwin Lutyens, a young British architect, with the enlargement and renovation of his residence and Gertrude Jekyll, a celebrated English garden designer, with the garden arrangement. These two artists acted as one to create a unified work: “the house has been designed to look at the gardens and the gardens have been designed to be looked at from the house”.

The gardens, seven in all, are enclosed areas (chambres verts – “green rooms” of plants) surrounding the house on the south and east sides.  Gertrude Jekyll, mixed colours and scents together in order to design a unique atmosphere in each of them. The acidic soil and maritime climate are favourable for introducing species such as Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas from China. Behind the house, beyond a wide lawn, Guillaume Mallet designed and planted a vast area, which stretches down to the sea cliffs.

Our coach will collect us and return us to our accommodation in Rouen.  Later in the evening

Jimi would be delighted if you would join us for our group dinner.

Day 3 – 30th August 2019

Our coach will collect us and take us to out first garden of the day in the village of Giverny.  Once the home of the great impressionist painter Claude Monet, this private garden and museum takes you back in time to the late 19th century. A hidden gem in the Normandy countryside, opened to the public in 1980, it reveals the inspiration behind some of the most well-known artwork of the impressionist movement.  This is a garden in two parts, Le Clos Normand is the flower garden close to the house and the iconic Water Lily Garden with its famous Water lily bridge.  Loved by gardeners everywhere, we will witness this place of colour, light, and water for ourselves.

After lunch we will journey onto Jardin Plume.  Designed by the owners Patrick and Sylvie Quibell and influenced by more recent movements involving perennials and grasses, this former orchard is nevertheless firmly rooted in French garden tradition, including plenty of neat clipping and evergreen hedges.  Le Plume Jardin combines the strong linear structural elements of French formality with naturalistic planting schemes of billowing perennials and swaying grasses. The overall combination is truly superb and certainly explains why this garden is loved by gardeners worldwide.

Day 4 – 31st August 2019

Our coach will collect us and take us on a scenic drive to Les Jardins Agapanthe. Monsieur Alexandre Thomas trained as a landscape designer and has created this unusual garden in just over an acre. You will be drawn immediately into a lush and green labyrinth and moves from dark tunnels through light enclosures to open terraces and back again. Topiary is everywhere. From a flat field, Alexandre created rises and hollows, introduced flowing and still water and fountains; It is easy to get lost in this paradise. In the adjoining Nursery you will find many of his plants for sale.

We will stop for a light lunch at a nearby cafe to Jardins Agapanthe before heading to the final garden, Jardin de Valerianes. This 3-acre garden tucked away in the heart of the countryside, is the life’s work of Marylin and Michel Tissait. The garden showcases its owners’ creativity and its success comes from their expert use of perspective, colours and transparency. They are a most remarkable couple: not only have they planted and looked after this astonishing garden with no outside help since 1982 but have also built their house and barns entirely themselves. Their design is more formal around the house with a pond (collecting rainwater for irrigation) and wide herbaceous and shrub borders linked by a pergola, steps and paths. Michel is a professional gardener at Rouen Hospital. They were one of the first winners of the highly coveted Soci Nationale d’Horticulture de France – Prix Bompland in 1996.

We will then travel back to Charles de Gaulle for our Journey home.

Tour Itinerary


Booking Information


Tour Price is: €475 per person

 Tour price includes:

·         Comfortable coach transport. 

·         Admission to all gardens. 

·         Friendly and knowledgeable professional tour coordinator. 

·         Botanical expertise of Jimi Blake 

·         Evening Meal on the 29th August, 2019

Tour price excludes:

·         Airfare and Accommodation – You will book your own flights and accommodation but only after we send you an email confirming that our reservation minimum has been met and the tour will proceed. 

·         Travel insurance. (See below) 

·         Lunches. Budget £10 per lunch minimum. 

·         Evening meal on the 29th and 30th August

Payment schedule:

A non-refundable deposit of €235 is due when you book your tour. 

Final payment, in full, is due by March 28th, 2019.



Travel insurance is required in case you have health emergencies or other unforeseen issues arise. We recommend AA Travel Insurance and you can get a quote online at Click here for Travel Insurance. There are many providers, so you may identify other travel insurance providers on your own. Before departure, you will be required to provide evidence that you have obtained travel insurance. 



It’s easy to book your garden tour, just let us know by return email and we will hold your place.  Later we will ask you to fill out our online booking form and at that stage you can pay the deposit by direct debit.                               

Your trip reservation will be confirmed by email upon receipt of the completed Reservation Form and trip deposit/full payment.  Payment in full must be received by March 28th, 2019.  

For questions or help completing your reservation, please contact Orlaith Murphy.

Phone: 087 6453042 or Email:  


As a small tour company Jimi Blake Tours offers tailored tours for keen gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Each tour is guaranteed to proceed as soon as the minimum of 20 reservations has been met. In the event that our reservation minimum is not met by March 28th, 2019, we reserve the right to cancel the tour. Deposits/payments will be refunded in full if the tour is cancelled.  

Please DO NOT make your airline reservations until we have guaranteed (by email) that the tour will proceed.

If you would like to join us, then simply contact Jimi by email at or by phone on 087 285 6601 

To avoid disappointment, please book early. 

On booking, we will supply you with information on suggested accommodation


Click here to email us

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