Monet’s gardens

Talking about Emily Dickinson’s love of flower gardens led me down the garden path to remember another story about a famous artist who’s known for his paintings, but not especially for the passion that drove him: his gardens.

I’m talking about Monet.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) is one of the great French Impressionists. In 1883, he moved to a property along the Seine in the French countryside called Giverny. While he was already an established artist, painting both landscapes and portraits …

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, (right section), with Gustave Courbet, Frédéric Bazille and Camille Doncieux, first wife of the artist

Woman in a Garden, 1867, Hermitage, St. Petersburg

the property at Giverny inspired him to undertake a huge landscaping project, including lily ponds that would become the subjects of his most famous paintings.

“With the help of his family and six gardeners,” reports NPR, “Monet planted, nurtured and composed his garden—a world of flowers made up of yellow, pink and red roses arrayed on the ground and draping over metal arches; patches of bright red geraniums; pale purple lavender; deep purple pansies; irises; impatiens; peonies and more.” He composed his paintings by first planting exactly what he wanted to capture on canvas.

Claude Monet, Irises In Monet’s Garden, 1900

For the next 20 years, Monet painted his gardens. He focused mainly on the water lilies, painting 250 canvases of them, some of which were multiple panels, each as wide as 14 feet.

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, c. 1915

Claude Monet, The Water Lilies – Setting Sun, 1920–1926

Today, Monet’s property at Giverny operates as a living museum, where you can experience the beauty of both Monet’s passions yearly from the end of March until November 1st. Find out more at

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    We visited Monet’s garden during our last trip to France and it is as beautiful as one might imagine. This trip, we saw other parts of the French landscape that inspired Monet and many others. It is thrilling to stand in the same place as the painter did and try and see what he saw. In Paris, the L’Orangerie museum has the huge Monet Lilly pond painting that fills the entire wall space. If you can’t get to Giverny, it is the next best thing!

  2. Dear Winnie ARE YOU STILL IN FRANCE? DID YOU GET TO GIVERNY? If you did get there we farmgirls are awaiting anxiously your photos! Well , all your french photos actually.
    High on my ” bucket list ” is to visit Giverny. I have wanted to go there all my life, ever since my Aunt Mignon ( Mignon ,which was her real name, means darling in French) who lived in France for several years told me about how wonderful it is. She said it was like he just left the house for a stroll. She adored his colors he used in his home and replicated them in her own quite innovative house she designed and built in the 50’s. At the time Monet’s brilliant blue and yellow were unknown as decorating colors here in the USA. I loved how she used all the influences of her life in France in her home.
    Yes , someday I shall go to Giverny.

  3. Cindi says:

    I had no idea these were paintings of his own gardens! Now they have a very different feel and meaning for me. Isn’t that funny ~ how knowing a bit about the background can completely change ones perspective. Now I need to go look at some Monet.

  4. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Yes, we did go to Giverny and it is absolutely beautiful!! If you get to France, you must visit the La Musee d’L’Orangerie where Monet did the huge paintings of his garden that cover the walls. It was his last big project and completed, per his instruction, after his death as a gift to France. He said he did not want to be here I case there was criticism. In the main room, there are seasons of his garden painted as murals going all around the entire room. Today on the flight from Paris, I got to watch this wonderful story of Monet on my TV. He was so important to the movement and a leader for many other painters.

    Lisa, if you will email me with your email,address, I will ask Warren to make a copy of his Monet painting collection on a disc so you can see it. He has many of Monet’s collection from museums all over the US and from Europe.

  5. Debbie says:

    When it comes to flower gardens and art no one inspires more than Monet. Every winter I check out books from the library that have been written about his gardens and art for a grand visual escape. I adore his gardens and his paintings.
    If any of you ever make it to Boston you can see some of his original art at the Museum of Fine Arts!

  6. jeannine Nye says:

    this is truly a wonderful garden and the colours are quite mind blowing.. however did you know why he decided to concentrate on this garden making it so beautiful and inspiring to paint? When he first moved into the village, the garden was large but not beautiful at all. He wandered around the countryside and at first was painting haystacks. The farmers soon saw that this could be a way to make money and charged him for the views he was painting.. then they shared the haystacks and moved them about the village all of them intent on charging him** After a while, he got to find out, and then dedicated the rest of his days, growing his wonderful garden and decorating his home, and finding inspiration just outside his back door!!! I think that is wonderfully funny, that he didn’t let the old farmers take him for a ride anymore and he still found fame in a big way with his glorious paintings**!!!

  7. Leisa Joan says:

    This struck me as I was in Paris almost 10 years ago, and had to talk my 2 sisters into the train ride to Giverny. It did not disappoint. Then a few weeks ago, at a local auction, i found a book on Monet’s garden in the book lots, and had to have it. I think I just found inspiration for a part of my back yard garden!!

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