Château de Valmer - Wines & gardens Certificate of Excellence 2018

The gardens

Backed by a 60-hectare park, balustrades, statues, columns, stairs, fountains and a rare troglodytic chapel dating from 1524 follow one another on more than eight levels!

The conservatory vegetable garden of one hectare houses a checkerboard of colours and flavours, edible plants and flowers to enjoy during the summer months.

The Italian terraces follow the slope of the hillside with a unique view of the vineyard.

This succession of levels, ordered and punctuated by walls and balustrades with brick arches, irresistibly evokes the layout of Italian Renaissance villas.

Florentine fountain © Leonard de Serres Communes and vines seen from the terrace of the Florentine fountains © Léonard de Serres The portal seen from the terraces © Léonard de Serres Terrace of the Florentine fountains © Léonard de Serres

The High Terrace, dominating the moat by nearly fifteen meters, has a curious charm forming an interlacing of greenery centered on a column of carved stone topped by a vase that comes from the Château de Chanteloup. From there, the view embraces the entire tiered gardens, the Grand Canal, the Vouvray vineyard and the Brenne valley. On the opposite hillside, you can also admire the charming little Renaissance castle of La Côte.

The Terrace of the Florentine fountains brightens up in March with the fragrant flowering of the century-old tree peonies; then the wisteria, the Pierre de Ronsard roses and the abundance of annuals - pink and white tobacco, blue sage, dahlias, anemias, cleomes, impatience - take over. Two imposing Sophora japonica "Pendula" frame the view and make their branches cry down to the bottom of the moat, covering themselves with clusters of white flowers during the hot summers. They flourished during the summer of 2018, an event exceptional enough to be highlighted.

David from Léda's terrace © Léonard de Serres Terrace of the Anduze vases © Léonard de Serres Lagerstroemia Indica © Léonard de Serres Anduze vase © Léonard de Serres

Léda's Terrace has regained its 17th century drawing. Charming vegetal walls extend the architecture of Le Petit Valmer to the north. At the foot of the walls covered with Chasselas vines, xerophilic plants settle in: iris, gauras....

The Terrace of the Anduze vases, an intermediate level, is punctuated by large yew buttresses between which the pink thyrses of the Lagerstroemia indica "Summer Evening" bloom, fanned out. Santolines and rosemary enhance the Mediterranean atmosphere.

A double staircase with diverging climbs, built in the 18th century, offers a distant view of one of the park's axes and leads to the vegetable garden while sheltering a statue of Saint Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners.

Tour of the greenhouse, Valmer vegetable garden © Léonard de Serres View of Petit Valmer from the vegetable garden © Léonard de Serres Aerial view of the vegetable garden © Charly's Drone Aerial view of the vegetable garden © Charly's Drone

The conservatory vegetable garden shows a classic drawing from the 15th century: on one hectare, four squares, bordered by box trees, are themselves subdivided into four parcels; in the centre a circular basin. High walls surround the whole, flanked by two small corner towers used to store tools and formerly to house gardeners and the donkey. Two old greenhouses are used for sowing. A beautiful 17th century portal opens onto the valley.

Fruit trees, along with narcissus, are led in counter-bearings and espaliers along the walls: peach trees, nectarines, apricots, fig trees, nashis, apple trees and pears. The small fruit square offers currants, blackcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries, gooseberries, raspberries. Against the east wall, yew stalls serve as a setting for bright blue-flowering céanothes, daffodils and pink perennial geraniums.

In 2014, an ampelographic collection - Loire Valley grape varieties and table grapes - was established in Valmer. One square is dedicated to the white varieties bordered by yellow roses, The Poet's Wife (David Austin), of which Alix de Saint Venant is the godmother; another shows the red and rosé varieties highlighted by roses, Papa Meilland. A wide variety of edible flowers such as daylilies, nigelles or nasturtiums now keep the vegetables in the garden company. The collection of fruit trees highlights different species, from the less known such as nashis, to the unavoidable (figs, peaches...) but with a great variety ("Williams Rouge" pears, api apples...).

Cultivation practices aim to preserve and improve the quality of the soil, fauna and flora (homemade compost, mulch, green manure, etc.). The presence of perennial honeybeams on the edge of the squares provides shelter and food for useful predators of insect pests: ladybird, hedgehog, pollinators, etc.

Valmer's lion © Leonard de Serres
Vegetables from the garden © Léonard de Serres

The moat forms a separate garden, both cool and sunny, which can be admired as you cross the bridge. But you have to go down the curious 15th century spiral staircase included in the large yew cut from the Léda Terrace to discover and breathe in the plants that thrive there. The shaded wall, surrounded by high yew buttresses, houses a collection of Hydrangeas: among the climbers are Schizophragma hydrangeoides with elliptical pinkish-white flowers, Pileostegia viburnoides and Decumaria sinensis, rare persistent ones with white honey flowers and among the shrubs Hydrangea quercifolia "Snow Queen", Hydrangea arborescens "Annabelle', Hydrangea aspera subsp. sargentiana with huge velvety leaves.

On the sun side, the fragrant bloom of Osmanthus x burkwoodii blooms in March, followed by the tricolour leaves - green, white, pink - of Actinidia kolomikta, which covers nearly thirty square metres. The Indian choisyas and lilacs go well with the pink valerians that are omnipresent in the gaps in the walls.