Editing Monet’s Garden

Last May, while traveling in France, my sister and I went to Giverny to visit Monet’s Garden.  The line to enter was horrendous, and once we got past the ticket booth, we became part of the swarm of tourists overrunning his house and garden.  We must have heard a dozen different languages spoken, people from all over the globe had come to see for themselves the inspiration for Monet’s most famous paintings.

It was eye candy, a stunning profusion of color!   But instead of the rare and exotic flora I expected, all the flowers were, well, your regular garden variety.  Irises, roses, tulips, pansies, alyssum, forget-me-nots…nothing I don’t grow in my own garden.  Yet they were artfully arranged by height, texture, and color to maximize the effect.  And after all, they were in Monet’s Garden.

I wanted to capture at least the illusion of solitude and serenity, and to photograph the garden as I thought it must have been back in Monet’s day.  I waited for lulls in tourist traffic to get my shots.  But while waiting, I watched hoards of humanity shuffling by, and I caught glimpses of peoples’ lives that I found as moving as anything I saw in those historic gardens. Mothers and children, old couples holding hands, a little boy with eyes only for the baby chicks, an awkward teenaged boy who had eyes only for the teenaged chicks, and a family with four generations of women all sharing a park bench.

While we writers strive to capture a mood or feeling or effect, we should also observe the stories happening all around us.

The first  is like a very pretty still life, or a posed portrait of Mother Nature.  The other is a vibrant, sometimes messy picture of the world, brimming with humanity, and all the joy and heartbreak that life and love have to offer.

There is beauty in it all.


All images and words © NaomiBaltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Plants.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant


  1. Oh, Naomi, this is beautiful. It is just what I needed to set my perspective straight after feeling a little sad.

  2. Hi,
    What a wonderful experience to be able to walk through such very special gardens, and the photos are beautiful, a lovely memory to have.

  3. Dear Naomi,
    I visited these gardens with my grown daughters. And have seen the luminous Waterlillies in Paris at the Orangerie. Your words and observations gave a new dimension to my memories.

    1. Dear Sharon, I have received a handful of e-mail replies as well as blog comments, and it seems that Monet’s Garden is a very special place to a great many people. There is a cookbook of recipes that Monet favored–I think it might be time to have a Montet’s Kitchen party! Thank you so much for your comments. I can so easily picture you and Heather and Colleen smelling the roses along one of Monet’s garden paths. It makes his garden even more special to me!

  4. I enjoyed your post and photos. My husband and I visited on a rainy day. No lines…such a different experience. The gardens were all in pastels in the spring.

    1. Hi Karen, thank you for visiting my blog. It must have been lovely with all the spring blossoms. I look forward to exploring your back road journal. North of us in Victoria are the Butchart Gardens. It is wonderful to see how they change with the seasons. I would like to go to Monet’s garden in the fall sometime.

      1. It was lovely in the spring. I wish it had been a sunny day but then I think we would have experienced the crowds you spoke of. I have a couple of photos of his garden on one of my posts from last summer if you stop by.

  5. What a beautiful garden! I imagine that despite the number of tourists around, there is still a sense of quiet about the place. Your pictures and words add some glow to it, too. Really beautiful. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Tita. You can find those quiet moments, even when it is bustling with tourists. Since I am a people-watcher, I am always entertained. I really appreciate your visit.

  6. I tried to comment on your blog on Tuesday. But technology and I aren’t really friends. I even had a witty comment. Now all that I can think to say is that I simply love people watching.

    Great post nonetheless.

  7. We never made it to Monet’s gardens! But I got goosebumps while reading your observations about the juxtaposition of history and the present. Indeed, it is so important to stop and smell the roses- even those of the human variety. And, a Monet’s Kitchen Party sound divine! 😉

  8. Lovely post, Naomi. You’re right – sometimes finding a different treasure than the one you expected makes an experience so much richer. Your photos tell wonderful stories!
    Thanks for the reminder to open our eyes.

  9. I love the old fashioned flowers like the ones my mother grew in her gardens. The secret, as you said, is to layer and arranged the plantings to good effect. The species they chose for his garden do provide that Monet kind of effect if you blur the image ever so slightly! Your second photograph is a worthy tribute to the man. Your photography astounds me only slightly less than your skill as a wordsmith!

  10. Nice reminder to writers to look around at the richness and vibrancy of life. Sometimes it feels like we’re holed away, making word count and writing about what we should be living.

  11. Beautiful! One of the best parts of visiting places like this, beyond the obvious beauty surrounding you, is the opportunities for people-watching. You’ve captured some of the best of it.

    1. Thank you, Carol. You’re right–when I travel, people-watching is as interesting to me as anything else I see. I appreciate your visit, and taking the time to share your thoughts.

  12. Great shots. Especially the ones with the people in them living their stories out loud. 🙂 Thanks for sharing them with us.

  13. This was beautiful, both in images and in word. Thanks for sharing your experience. My favorite still shot is the one with the water; my favorite people shot is of the matronlly women feeding the babe.

  14. I was struck by your comment about Monet’s garden containing nothing you couldn’t find or grow in your own garden. And yes, it IS the garden which inspired Monet…which, in itself is magically inspirational….but what struck me more was how often we look outside our own lives for that magic, when it’s right there in front of us all along. We need only to see through new eyes….

    I also loved how your story shifted to accomodate the, at first unwanted and intrusive, hoards of people, to allow them to become part of the experience for you. Saying ‘yes’ and seeing the alchemy in front of you instead of forcing your experience to fit into a preconceived box. And your beautiful pictures allow us to sit under wonder dust for just a moment….thank you!


  15. hi Naomi, we have a big book with his paintings, visited some museums – but never visited his garden – would like to smell that, hear that, getting calm walking there …

    1. It was such a treat to go there, Frizz, although it was very crowded, and we did have to wait for our moments to snap certain photos. Most amazing was to see the water lilies, and the bridge that he had made so famous. I hope you can go there soon.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Jamie. I really love this one too–I have so many pleasant associations with being there. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. The people watching there was really as spectacular as the flowers.

    1. It was fascinating to go and recognize so many of the garden features from paintings. I loved looking inside his house too. My kitchen is also yellow and blue. Thanks so much for the visit, and for sharing your thoughts!

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