Les Jardins du Manoir de la Bonnerie
Yesterday (May 5th 2012) we went to the opening day for the gardens at Bonnerie Manor House and were lucky enough to have a day of sunshine. April had given us hokey-cokey weather of rain and sun – in one minute, out the next, in, out, in, out, shake it all about, so it was nice to get some settled sunshine at last!
We first went to the gardens of the Manoir de la Bonnerie in 2009, not long after they first opened to the public. It is only 25km (15 miles) from us, 30-odd minutes drive through the scenic forest of Perseigne via Fresnay-sur-Chedouet to Essay.
It immediately became a firm favourite which we visit every year, and as they have started doing season tickets we bought one each for 2012. We also took the cahance on this visit to buy a few plants from the new nursery area and gift shop.
The garden has been in existence for only a little over 10 years but the owner, Mme Sabine Dunais, has made enormous strides in a short space of time and will doubtless soon achieve her aim of gaining the label “Jardin Remarquable”. The garden is an eclectic mix of French, Italian and English landscape and country garden styles, plus a walled vegetable and fruit garden with a rose promenade. Trees, shrubs, bamboos and ground cover plants form the backbone of the garden planting, with an emphasis on strong foliage forms.
The gardens are in the grounds of a beautifully restored 15th century manor house on the hillside looking over the town of Essay – it is a lovely location and the town itself is well worth a wander, too. The chapel of the Dukes of Alençon is a short walk from the Manoir de la Bonnerie.
Special events, gardening courses, craft fairs etc. are also held in the gardens – here is a selection from the 2012 season which do not require advance booking and are accessible to non-French speakers:
- 3 June 2012 Choral concert at 16h00 by the “Fiat Cantus” ensemble from Paris
- 13 June – 4 July 2012 Japanes porcelain exhibition and painting techniques
- 25 August to 16 September 2012 17th century still life paintings exhibition
- 16th December 11am to 7pm classic cars in collaboration with the automobile club of Chartres
- 24th – 25th November Christmas Fayre and Market
Open 5 May to 16 September 2012, Saturday – Monday from 14h30 to 18h30. Normally you’re free to wander but on some Sundays there are guided visits by the owner.
Entry fee 6€ (guided visits on Sunday 8€)
Jardins du Manoir de la Bonnerie website: www.lesjardinsdumanoirdelabonnerie.com
Access to the Gardens of the Manoir de la Bonnerie
If you like gardens, check out the other gardens near us on our website Gardens of Lower Normandy and Upper Pays de la Loire.