More than 600 varieties of tomatoes are grown in the vegetable garden of the renaissance style Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire Valley, by Prince Louis Albert de Broglie, whose passion for gardening has earned him to be nicknamed as the gardener Prince. Born into nobility with a lineage of reputed statesmen and academics which include Louis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond, 7th duc de Broglie who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1929, Louis Albert began his fabulous journey into the world of gardening in the early 1990’s. Owner of this remarkable property, who is also known to have saved Deyrolle, Paris historic and prestigious science institution from financial bankruptcy, he has recreated 70 of the old educational boards which can be seen along the walks in the park. Micro-farming using permaculture as means for a sustainable agriculture is another of his on going project. Inspired from Ferme du Bec Hellouin in Normandy, the experimental small scale farm lies just behind the gardens of the castle where some of its products are sold at the property. It is all about tomatoes and La Bourdaisière collection of ancient and rare varieties is now recognized by the National Conservatory (CCVS) as one of the most prestigious collection of tomatoes in France. Walking through the conservatory is a true delight. The vegetable garden is laid out in an asymmetric manner with an artfully bound wooden rustic sticks placed on beds along grassy path interweaving with companion plants alongside dark red leafy tall upright amaranth plants and an amalgamation of aromatic herbs, flowers as well as medicinal plants. Brought together to form a perfect symbiosis with the natural environment, these randomly planted herbs and flowers between tomato plants are not only a pleasant sight, but they also act as source of attracting bees and a natural repellent against insects and other undesirable elements that may harm the tomato plants. Delectable tomatoes enhanced with superb colours come in all shapes, oval, elongated, red, green, yellow, violet, with inventive names such as Banana legs, Delice d’or, Big rainbow, Kaki coing, Rouge d’Irak, Gardener’s delight, Principe Borghese, Green Zebra, Grinta amongst others … They all come into bloom with the annual festive weekend that takes place in September. My visit to the festival is certainly one of the most enjoyable especially when you get to discuss with the gardener Prince himself who speaks with great enthusiasm on gardening and his projects.
Head for the marvelous tomato bar located within the conservatory and relax in the garden while trying out their fresh vegetables juices.
For sure tomatoes are daily picked from the vegetable garden, and here it is juicy yummy tomatoes being “harvested” for the day …
By noon time to unwind at the invitation of the Prince for a wonderful lunch in the midst of his vegetable garden. A real treat with a meal served on an attractively decorated table and a selection of tomato dishes … of course !
And their delicious organic tomato jam … a must try !
The day is not over yet and I am still enjoying the garden view while sipping more fresh juices in the midst of an idyllic dahlia garden. The idea of a dahlia garden came from Martine de Roquefeuil, a dahlia expert and the property director. Created in 2009, the contemporary garden was redesigned by Louis Benech the renown landscape architect. Today it boasts for its collection of over 5000 bulbs with more than 200 varieties in shapes and colours. One dahlia variety named La Bourdaisière was specially created for the garden by Ernest Turc, a reputed plant nursery from Angers. Walk up the small “tumulus” mound to get a picturesque overall view of the gardens and the vineyards.
Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire Valley home to the annual tomato festival.
Château de la Bourdaisière
25 rue de La Bourdaisière
37270 Montlouis sur Loire France
Telephone +33(0)2 47 45 16 31