Jo's Review of 2015
In May 2015 a group of us from the Bowles Society went on a trip to the South of France retracing the steps taken by Mr Bowles when he joined his brother, Henry and his new wife, Florence, on what was to become known as ''The Triangular Honeymoon''. Photo 1, The Happy Travellers.
We stayed in Nice and visited five beautiful Mediterranean Gardens. We travelled to each one by coach so were able to enjoy the dramatic coastline of the Cote D'Azur too. Photo 2, The Nice Coastline. Photo 3, The Marina. Photo 4, The War Memorial, which is 32 metres high and cut into the cliff. Photo 5, View of Castle Hill from the coast road.
The first garden we visited was the Villa Ephrussi Rothschild garden in St Jean Cap Ferrat. It was constructed between 1905 and 1912 for Baroness Beatrice de Rothschild (1864-1934). On her death the property was donated to the Academie des Beaux Arts and the house is a showcase of the way she lived. The garden is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the 'Notable Gardens of France'. The garden is set out in 9 different areas, each with a different theme, Florentine, Spanish, French, Japanese, Exotic, Provencal, a rose garden, a stone garden and a garden de Sevres. Photo 6, The garden at Villa Ephrussi. Photo 7, Rose Garden. Photo 8, View of House from the garden. Photo 9, view through Rose Arbour.
The following morning we visited was the Jardin Exotique, a cactus garden in Monaco. This is a cliff top garden situated 100m above sea level over looking the Principality. An outdoor collection of 1000 cacti and succulents from semi-arid environments are planted across the top and down the side of the cliff. Photo 10, View of the garden from the road which shows the steep side of the cliff the garden is built on. Photos 11,12, 13 and 14, the Cactus Garden. Photo 15, The Principality of Monaco.
In the afternoon we visited Serre de la Madone in Menton. In the 1920's Lawrence Johnson (1871-1958) created a beautiful garden in a steep valley for his extensive collection of tender plants, blending plants from around the world in settings of terraces, pools and pergolas. Photo 16, The house set on the terrace, note the amazing Bird of Paradise plants either side of the path. Photo 17, Statue of Madone. Photo 18, Protea. Photo 19, Pergola with wisteria.
On day three, 14th May 2015, we visited La Mortola in Ventimiglia, Italy. Thomas Hanbury (1832-1907) found the terraced promontory in 1867 and with his brother, Daniel, created a garden with plants from all over the world. They are grouped together in themes and are linked by avenues, terraces, pools and statues down to the seashore. He originally purchased 10 acres then over the following years purchased more land to increase the garden to 49 acres. There were at one time 40 gardeners working there. We celebrated Mr Bowles 150th birthday with a picnic lunch on the terrace over looking the fabulous coastline and Mediterranean sea courtesy of Carolyn Hanbury. Photo 20, The coastline (imagine it's 1867 and you see this bit of coast and think 'mmm, perfect place for a house and garden'!). Photo 21, View back towards the house from the beach. Photos, 22, 23 and 24, The garden. Photo 25, Terrace with a view.
In the afternoon we drove a short distance to Boccanegra, Ventimiglia, Italy. This garden was purchased in 1906 by Ellen Wilmott (1858-1934) for tender plants. In 1923, being in great debt, she sold it to another English gardener, John Tremayne. For the past 30 years it has been the home of Ursula Salgetti Drioli who was our host and guide for our visit. Photo 26, The House at Boccanegra. Photos 27 and 28, The garden. Photo 29, Steps and a very fragile wooden balustrade. Photo 30, Another terrace with a view.
I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of these fabulous gardens. It seems a sacrilege to reduce each garden to a mere 5 photos but like all holiday photo collections they have to be edited to manageable portions!
My grateful thanks to Andrew Turvey for organising this trip of a lifetime. It was extraordinary and one I'm sure none of us will ever forget.