Gardens Near and Far episode 12 – Serre de la Madone: The discreet and elegant gardens of the Madonna’s Greenhouse are in the image of their creator, Major Johnston, an Englishman who was passionate about botany. A few kilometres away, Baroness Beatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild had her gardens landscaped into a place dedicated to worldly pleasures. These two gardens are now open to the public.
In the early 20th century, those among Europe’s largest fortunes took advantage of the mild climate from Nice to Menton to create magnificent gardens. Landscape architect Jean-Philippe Teyssier takes us on a discovery of the most beautiful gardens in France and the world. The gardeners, landscapers, horticulturalists, architects, historians and estate managers he meets unveil the art of gardening. They show us how gardens have been designed, planted and maintained over the centuries. The exceptional gardens Jean-Philippe Teyssier visits make up a myriad of passions, journeys, colors and shapes.
Gardens Near and Far episode 12 – Serre de la Madone
The Jardin Serre de la Madone (6 hectares), often known as the Serre de la Madone (Hill of the Madonna), is a garden in France notable for its design and rare plantings. It is located at 74, Route de Gorbio, Menton, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France. It is open to the public (every day except Monday) during the warm months of the year. In 2008, it was being restored to its former condition.
The garden was created in 1924–1939 by Lawrence Johnston, who had earlier created in Britain the celebrated Hidcote Manor Garden (1907). It lies on a hillside in the Gorbio valley, with a farmhouse to which Johnston added two large wings. Johnston traveled the world collecting plants, and Serre de la Madone offered an excellent site for plants from subtropical regions. Over the years he created a series of terraces among old olive trees, planted and tended by twelve gardeners.
After Johnston’s death in 1958 owners maintained it with varying degrees of respect for the original plantings. In 1999 the property was purchased by the non-profit Conservatoire du littoral, who began restoring it to Johnson’s design.