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all photographs © Peter Evans
peter-evans-photographer.com

 
 
The Lot-et-Garonne and Claude Monet
 

Monet - water-lilies - Les NymphaesMonet is famous for his prolific paintings of nymphaea, or water-lilies; the picture on the left, for example, "Les Nymphaes", was painted in 1914 and now hangs in the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

In fact, it could be said that Monet developed an obsession with nymphaea. He once said, "It took me time to understand my nymphaea; I planted them for pleasure without dreaming of painting them. Suddenly I felt there were fairies in my pond. I took up my brushes and palette and, since then, it has been almost my sole model."

Whilst most people with an interest in art are aware of the above, few are aware that Monet's love for these plants was started by a botanical garden here in the Lot-et-Garonne.

 

Situated just a few kilometres from Téoulès Cottage and close to the confluence of the rivers Baise, Lot and Garonne, Les Ets Botaniques Latour-Marliac was founded in 1875 by Joseph Latour-Marliac (statue below) who created the first hardy hybrid nymphaea in multiple colours. When these incredible hybrids were exhibited in Paris in 1889 they caught the attention of Claude Monet who immediately began placing orders for them for his garden at Giverny.

Thus began the obsession that occupied the rest of the artist's life. Several of the original hand-written invoices addressed to Monet at Giverny, can be seen on display at the gardens (together with a letter from Monsieur Latour-Marliac chasing Monet for payment!)

 
Latour-Marliac statue - copyright Peter Evans
 
Lotus and bee - copyright Peter Evans
 
Monet water-lilies - copyright Peter Evans

Now, over 135 years later, Les Ets Botaniques Latour-Marliac is still trading and exports its plants worldwide. It also houses the French National Collection of Nymphaea which includes 200 hardy and tropical water-lily varieties.

Les Ets Botaniques Latour-Marliac is set in beautiful grounds with a lake, secluded walks, a waterfall and numerous exotic flowers and plants in addition to the dozens of  water-lily beds. There is also a pleasant shaded terrace and a cafe serving drinks, snacks and lunches.

In 1904, whilst on his way to Spain, Monet came here to the Lot-et-Garonne to see for himself the source of his inspiration. Now, you can see it too!

Les Ets Botaniques Latour-Marliac are situated just over ten miles from Blanchou Cottage, at Temple-sur-Lot, and if you have any interest in painting (or just the incredible beauty of nature) then these gardens are well worth a visit - as you can see from these photographs.

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Latour-Marliac view to Temple - copyright Peter Evans
 
Latour-Marliac water-lilies - copyright Peter Evans Latour-Marliac water-lilies - copyright Peter Evans
 
Latour-Marliac frog in Victoria pad - copyright Peter Evans
 
Latour-Marliac water-lilies - copyright Peter Evans
 

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