The Magic of Monet’s Garden

Author: Derek Fell

Publisher: David Bateman Ltd $49.99

While Monet is best known as one of the foremost Impressionist artists around the turn of last century, he was also a serious gardener and his Giverny garden, an hour northwest from Paris, has been restored and is open to the public. While traditionally French gardening was marked by formal design, parterres and mass bedding plants, Monet married formal design with billowing plantings achieved with flowers and colour.

In this lavish book (it is positively cheap for a well presented hardback full of 200 photographs), Derek Fell sets out to present the garden in all its glory and to decode the secrets of colour and plant management which Monet worked hard to achieve. As an Impressionist, Monet is renowned for his fascination with light and it is the incorporation of light and colour theory which sets this garden apart. You need to read the book to get to grips with shimmer and back lighting in the garden setting.

While the author’s interpretation of colour theory may not satisfy artists (after all, artists know black and white are not colours) and is at times a little attenuated, he does a very good job of presenting it for gardeners. It is pleasing to see a garden book which is strongly focussed on plants and colour and where the formal design elements of gardening are acknowledged but only as a background for the dynamic plantings.

This is not only an attractive book to have, it will give the keen gardener a good understanding of colour theory and planting combinations for those who like gardens full of plants and flowers and managed through different seasons.