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Monet's Gardens: On Canvas And In The Dirt

We’ll get lost in water lilies, wisteria and a fine riot of flowers, Monet-style.

The Artist's Garden at Giverny (Claude Monet)

The Artist’s Garden at Giverny (Claude Monet)

No one had ever painted flowers quite like Claude Monet, the great impressionist. His water lilies. His wisteria. His nasturtium. His roses and delphinium. In arches and cascades. Fiery and serene. Shimmering. Dreamy. But not from dreams. Monet was a gardener. A gardener extraordinaire. He painted his own gardens. His water garden. His Grande Allee.

And ever since, art lovers and gardeners have flocked to his canvases. Dreamed of his gardens at Giverny. Dreamed of recreating their own Monet magic.

This hour, On Point: the fine riot of flowers of Claude Monet.

-Tom Ashbrook


Paul Tucker, professor of Art, University of Massachusetts-Boston. He has curated Monet exhibits across the world, and is curator of the New York Botanical Garden’s current exhibit titled “Monet’s Garden.”

Derek Fell, writer, photographer, gardener and landscape designer. He’s the author of The Magic of Monet’s Garden: His Planting Plans and Color Harmonies and The Impressionist Garden. You can find a gallery of Fell’s photos here.


Here are some paintings by Claude Monet as well as photos from our guest Derek Fell. You can find a gallery of photos from our On Point listeners here.

From Tom’s Reading List

For some notes on how to plant your own Monet-inspired garden, see these notes from Derek Fell.

The New York Times  “The gardens he created during the course of 40 years at Giverny, his country home midway between Paris and Rouen, rank as one of the great artistic projects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

The New York Times “The market for Claude Monet’s paintings faltered in the 1880s but came back the following decade, when he started producing series like the haystacks and the Rouen Cathedral facades. He began to make a lot of money, enough to finance his own private utopia in Giverny in northern France, where he devoted himself to flower gardening with as much industry and creativity as he did to painting.”


“Pinsonette” by  L’accordéon de France

“Reine de musette” by Les as de Nogent

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Awrennb

    My sweet garden is so thirsty this summer. I am excited about this conversation, because I enjoy wild growing semi organized color patches of flowers that show me surprises. the flowers and plants have taken the place of our lawn and brings us great joy. I must water the poor beautiful flowers, but I feel badly using too much water in a time when we are worried about water and drought.  

  • Jennie

    Not too Monet, but sometimes the pond in my backyard looks like one of the paintings of the Seine.

  • Jaki Reis

    I have a friend who grows the garden from which he paints, in a similar style: http://www.eugenegregan.com/landscapes/

  • Jpx_bus

    what about the influence of the important british garden theorist Gertude Jeykill?

  • Marty

    This may be slightly off subject, but, as a flower and flower garden-loving amateur photographer, I would welcome any comments or tips about taking photographs of flowers and flower gardens from Derek Fell.
    Also, what does he think about the digital manipulations of photographs of flowers and gardens that attempt to make their photographs look like paintings?

  • J__o__h__n

    This is one of the most interesting shows you have aired. 

  • Peter Thoem

    Very interesting discussion.  Several years ago an English gardener whose garden was a spectacular riot of color and texture told me: “I’m very much into vertical gardening.”  That was an Aha! moment for me.  I try to use whatever I have like on old pear tree and a barn to take the interest and effect of my garden up above the viewer.  I like scrambles of clematis, climbing roses and morning glories. Here’s a couple of colour splashes.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The caller who’s a descendant of Twachtman, who had painted near Monet’s garden, rang a bell for me.  I have a poster reproduction of his that I always think reminds me of Cape Cod in its wilder aspects, with cattails.  I’ll put a link to some images.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Here’s a link for Twachtman: http://www.johnhtwachtman.com/works_intro.htm

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=608010908 Rob Fuoco

    hi tom .  i am rob camp fuoco  a painter and garden designer in ct.  just wanted to suggest to your american listeners who are interested in monet and color theme gardens to visit the hill-stead museum in farmington ct  to see a great collection of monet paintings and look at a magnificent beatrice farrand color theme garden.   also as a practical note for those listeners interested in creating color theme gardens   google my name , rob camp fuoco, to see examples of color theme gardens or go to my web group   http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group//theartistsgarden, to the ‘files’  section for hints on creating color theme gardens.    love your show!!!   

    • jefe68

       Wow, more self promotion. Some of you folks have no shame.

    • Michele

       Love the Hillstead.  It’s one of my favorite places.  I love the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival every summer.  BTW the museum itself has an amazing collection of impressionistic paintings.

  • Ellen Dibble

    This one of Twachtman says Beach at Squam, which might or might not relate to the New Hampshire lake site of On Golden Pond, but dated 1901. I actually prefer a number of American impressionists to Monet and Renoir and Cezanne and Van Gogh, and Twachtman is one. http://www.johnhtwachtman.com/images2/twachtman_beachatsquam_m.jpg

  • L Diane Johnson

    Thanks Tom, for taking my call today during the MONET segment!

    I was thrilled to share. But there is so much about painting the garden that I could not get in. I thought the segment was only about the plantings which is grand, yet many of your questions were not answered. 

    IF YOU EVER need someone who knows about what Monet’s palette, his strokes, style; and what artists are doing today regarding his garden please let me know. I have been interviewed much related to this.

    Whether a home gardener favoring home garden or pond on his tiny 5 acre plot; the fact that he backed-up the Ept river then asked permission to divert it; his technique vs. what is happening today. 

    In fact, Monet, was in morning upon his death at 86 (1926) that, “I could not get it all.”

    AND Cezanne had a studio just down the street from him at the historic Baudy Hotel. The studio is still there.

    Monet had many painters come to his door. All but one was turned away. He even told his daughters that they could never marry an American Impressionist.

    Monet’s vegetable garden was streets away from his home. And every Monday (now) is considered as “gardener’s day.” Is the day closed to the public to allow gardeners to come in to dead-head the flowers; replant, fertilize, prune and clean. 

    The most special thing I found is that Monet had a gardener in a boat using a net to gently skim all leaves/flowers off the pond to make it look like a “mirror” to reflect without interruption 

    Oh, so much. If I could participate as a guest speaker, I would be happy to. Not to tout me, rather, to open insights to and – from the listener.

    Not to mention, as a painter, hearing the water and dense birdsong while painting to this day!

    I can offer to listener artists the way to get into the garden to paint.

    Again, thanks so much,
    L. Diane Johnson PSA PAP-SE PAPOH OPA

    France site featuring my paintings:

    Just one of many pieces painted of Monets garden:

    • jefe68

      Hmmmm… I’m not sure what to make of this comment and the links. Seems to me a lot of self promotion going on here. I’m not sure this is the right venue for such a thing.

      By the way the American Impressionist, such as Paxton, Tarbell, Frank Benson, Childe Hassam, and Dennis Miller Bunker had much better drawing skills then a lot of the French Impressionist. One could say they surpassed a lot of the Impressionist of this era. Paxton was one of the best, very underrated painter.

      • Michele

         Re: Not sure what to make of this comment and links. 

        Unlike the repetitive, unremitting, political opinions that populate this site by the same daily players?

        • jefe68

          Don’t read them, or ignore them.
          I really don’t care what you think of me.
          I do find it a bit much when people use a forum such as this for their own personal gain.

          To post ones own artwork on a show about Monet is a bit much in my view.

          • ShowersCorneli

            Get a life man.

          • jefe68

            I have one and an opinion.

            Brett posted a link as well, the difference is his link was about something that was helpful to a community and good cause. Posting a link to your art is not the same thing.

  • George Waldref

    Only caught the tailend of this program- Monet is a great interest of mine.  When will a podcast of this program be available?  Thanks.

  • ShowersCorneli

    Here is a “painting” of my garden I did on my iPhone with Brushes.

    Patrice Showers Corneli

    • ShowersCorneli

      Oops! I don’t see the image Sorry!

  • rkean

    Hi Tom and All,
    This comment is primarily a suggestion for a future program but first, thanks so much for the focus on Monet- wonderful to think about horticulture and beautiful flowers this July Day. 

    I’d been feeling powerless thinking about the fact that today is the start of another pre-trial hearing for Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, Maryland, and there is nothing in the news about it. I’m not sure if you may have already covered Manning’s story but, if so, now would be a great time to revisit it. As you know Manning is the now 24 year old Army private/intelligence analyst who allegedly leaked the “Collateral Murder” video and documents relating to the US war in Iraq. 

    There are so many dramatic and critically important issues raised by Bradley Manning’s arrest, court martial, and subsequent treatment by the Army. Did you know that the slaughter of civilians, including journalists, is legal under the laws of armed conflict? This has been stated as the reason that neither Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch said anything in response to the “Collateral Murder” video which Manning allegedly leaked because he thought the public should know that civilians were being gunned down.

    Don’t we teach our children to speak up when they see injustice? Reportedly even the Army field manual tells soldiers to expose illegal orders. Bradley Manning saw something and he, apparently, said something. And for this he has been imprisoned for over 2 years and was put in solitary confinement for 9 months. Only public demonstrations by his supporters finally ended this inhumane treatment by the Army.

    Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a legal advisor to WikiLeaks and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on behalf of 46 news organizations have urged the Defense Department to end the secrecy that has been imposed on the court martial proceedings and conform to legal standards for an open and public trial. But so far this has not happened and the DOD seems to want to make this trial, and perhaps, Bradley Manning himself, go away. 

    If this trial, which concerns the alleged biggest leak of classified (actually much of it was non-classified, see Chase Madar’s excellent book) information in the history of our country goes underneath the public radar, what is this saying about the future of journalism and our democracy.

    On Point is known for the timeliness of your topic choices. Please consider a program on Bradley Manning and the need for information, openness, and whistleblowers in a democracy and the effect of war on human rights when killing civilians is defined as OK.

    Rosemary Kean

  • http://feedmedaily.blogspot.com/ Feed Me daily

    This show goes along with a lot of the themes On POint has been exploring lately. There have been discussions about technology alongside discussions of ‘loafering’ and relating to the tangible, creating in a new technological era. Are we destined to hover btwn the keypad and the andshake? What ‘gardens’ of inspiration are new subjects for art? Man, as a writer, I rely on nature for a refuge and my computer for communication. Thanks for the fodder, Tom!! My brain is going…

  • Michele

    A little off topic but there was a fascinating show on PBS last week called Fake or Fortune?  It was originally aired by the BBC and follows the trail to prove a painting was actually painted by Monet.  Most experts agreed but the Wildenstein Institute who holds sway over the entire Monet catalog refuses to authentice the painting touching on some of the more arcane and subjective aspects of the art world. 

    • Michele

       …refuses to authenticate…

  • Brett

    Monet suffered from cataracts as he aged; it’s evident in his paintings. 

    I’ve had cataracts in both eyes, as well as secondary cataracts. I’m fortunate to live now as opposed to Monet’s era, that’s for sure, as by now I would be blind. (I’ve also had shingles in my eyes, which caused peripheral vision loss, depth perception distortion, optic nerve damage, a visual sense of permanent halos around lights/star patterns, and a phenomenon that makes straight lines look crooked.) I learned a valuable lesson from my ordeal: we see with our minds as much as with our eyes. As I remember, the saving grace in being victim to fast-growing cataracts was that the external world became an Impressionistic painting all the time. Another unintended benefit from that chapter of my life was a particularly creative spurt that produced a number of good songs, poems, short stories and one novella. (I suppose this would be the space to insert a few self-promoting links, but, then, isn’t that just a tad bit tawdry?)

    I create gardens for a living; it’s like painting with shovel and trowel. The concepts of composition, using the spectrum of the color wheel, blending textures, being aware of light and shadow, and so on, are all elements of both gardening and painting.

  • Brett

    Okay, so, I guess I COULD do a little shameless self-promotion of a project with which I have been intimately involved for the last decade or so. We turned a decaying wasteland of broken bottles, used condoms, discarded drug paraphernalia and brazen criminal activity into a green space with reintroduced indigenous plants. The attempt to offer kids alternative activities to drugs, sex, and rock and roll I’d say has been the most challenging (and most rewarding).


    P.S.-Driving the team of horses was mostly for show, although we don’t use powered tillers, weed wackers, or powered hedge trimmers…and NO pesticides or herbicides!

    P.P.S-Compost! Oh, AND please send money, lots of money, and send often!

    P.P.S.-Did I mention the part about sending money? 

  • Deodonne

    When I was 16, I took my finals early and flew to France with my mother for the summer.  We back-packed around the country to the places where Monet painted including Giverny, Rouen, and Bel Isle. It was our impressionistic pilgrimage and it sparked a lifelong love of impressionism and travel.  Thank you for a wonderful show which took me back to that summer!

  • potter

    I just want to say thank you for this show focussing on Monet’s garden. Inspiring and a nice break from all else. Apparently Pisarro and Cezanne also had gardens; they were very different. 

  • Moorebjb

    “Monet’s gardens”  is for me one of On Point’s best programs – or any public radio programs – ever.  Thank you.

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