There is a wall around Monet's garden. When I saw the wild extravagance of it, I wondered if they were afraid it would escape if not restrained. Perhaps unfettered poppies, cornflowers, and roses would run amuck, polluting the landscape of Giverny with fragile blossoms of pink and purple silk and sky blue taffeta. Perhaps the fragrance would so intoxicate the residents that they would forget their work......and their problems.
When I was a very newly married 21 year old, I bought my first "painting" of Monet's garden. It cost me ten dollars. That cheap poster still hangs in our house. And I have never lost the infatuation with the garden, or with the painter who rendered it so marvelously that all I had to do was stand in front of it...and I was there.
Stepping into the real garden was like stepping inside a painting. At every turn I was confronted with a landscape already wondrously familiar. And yet...here the painting breathed. Blossoms nodded, bees hovered, grasses and stems swished and shushed. And the scent!! Oh that I might convey to you the deliciousness and complexity of it. Sometimes sweet candy, sometimes earth and musk, sometimes citrus and sunshine, and sometimes so recklessly wild and bewildering that it defied category. I could only breathe and sigh and give thanks for being in that place in that moment.
The lily pond completely mesmerizes, altering with every few steps. Frames made of arching grasses and blossoms floating on invisible stems, or willow fronds playfully dancing in the breeze, continually give you fresh perspective. Sometimes the water appears murky and dark. Next moment, it is blue sky with white clouds. And ever and always, in their midst, islands and continents of waterlilies.
I think I get that. As I sometimes floated and sometimes stumbled through Monet's gardens, ravenously trying to drink so deeply that some part of the garden would go with me, my heart was so full it ached. And even now, I am compelled to share it...to give some piece of this extraordinary joy to you. Monet did it with his paint box. I attempt to do it with my words. I certainly do not believe I have done it. I wonder if he did.
The title of the post is drawn from another Monet quote. The garden became his obsession. He once said, "Everything I have earned has gone into these gardens." But almost in the same breath he also said, referring to the gardens, "I am in raptures!" ("Je suis dans les ravissements!") I feel this captures my sentiments as well as anything.
If you care to see more photographs from the garden you may visit the photo album.