Meet The Gardener Who Keeps Monet’s Iconic Gardens Flourishing
If you ever get the chance to travel to Northern France, you must be sure to make a stop in the small village of Giverny. Famed impressionist painter Claude Monet lived and worked in Giverny from 1883 until his death in 1926. All these years later, Monet’s former home and gardens– where he produced his famous water lily series– are now the site of the Fondation Claude Monet museum.
When arriving on the grounds of the property, you’ll be met with the most charming sight – a pastel pink farmhouse with emerald green shutters and doors. You’ll also take in the lush garden beds, flowering tunnels, familiar ponds, and even that iconic footbridge. So, who is responsible for the upkeep of one of the art world’s most famous sites?
Enter Gilbert Vahé. As reported by Artsy, Vahé has tended these gardens for around 35 years. He even happens to live right next door, and his personal gardens are also a sight to behold. Although you’d never know it now, back in 1976, when Vahé first became acquainted with the gardens, they were in a state of disarray. It took four whole years to revitalize the gardens, slowly cutting away the overgrown foliage and restoring the gardens to what they would have looked like back in Monet’s painting days.
Along with a team of 10 full-time gardeners plus volunteers, Vahé works tirelessly to maintain the stunning array of gardens you’ll see today. The Fondation Claude Monet receives around 500,000 visitors each year who come from all over the world between late March and early November to immerse themselves in this little slice of history.
Without dedicated people like Vahé, precious sites like the Fondation Claude Monet may have been lost forever to history. Although Vahé took a brief few years away from the gardens to retire back in 2011, he simply couldn’t stay away, and has been back in his post since 2017. Every year, he instills his knowledge in his team of gardeners so that when he does decide to retire for good, they’ll be well equipped to keep this little slice of history flourishing.
h/t Casey Lesser/Artsy – thank you for sharing Gilbert Vahé’s important work!