Jardin de Lavande sampler: block one
Over the next eight weeks I'll be introducing my new Petit-Four sampler patterns - the Jardin de Lavande blocks - prior to their release in July. Over the past eight months Andrea from the Willow Cottage Quilt Company and I have been posting parcels of scrumptious Tilda fabrics to our Block of the Month participants and taking them on a virtual horticultural tour of France, introducing them to gardens old and new as they created their garden-inspired sampler.
So grab your valise and let our journey to the lavender fields begin...
This week we are going to tumble back in time to the end of the fifteenth century to visit our first French garden at Chateau Gaillard in Amboise, a few miles west of Tours in the Loire valley.
The young king Charles VIII, whilst campaigning in Italy, rather envied the exquisite renaissance palaces of the Italian dukes. He returned from Naples with a good deal of looted furniture and artwork, an entourage of Italian craftsman and a Benedictine monk, Dom Pacello da Mercogliano, who had an exceptional gift for making gardens.
Dom Pacello laid out a 'paradise on earth' for his royal patron, creating formal terraces, flower beds and lawns, criss-crossed by gravel paths and animated by fountains. He also introduced potted orange trees to France, growing them in half-barrels that could be over-wintered inside. Dom Pacello went on to serve two more Kings and was gifted the Chateau by Francis I in exchange for a bouquet of orange blossom each spring. Not a bad bargain.
Mary Queen of Scots spent much of her childhood at the Chateau Gaillard - which must have made Scottish summers somewhat disappointing - and Dom Pacello's contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci, also spent his final few years at the French court in Amboise, which is why the Mona Lisa now hangs in the Louvre.
Next week we are staying in the Loire valley to gather inspiration from a French monastic garden...