Visiting the gardens
The 12-acre gardens are a listed monument since 1977. Set on the slope of the Mont Rude overlooking the Loire, they’re organised in successive terraces:
- overlooking the Domaine, an English-style Arboretum
- a French garden supported by its original shale retaining walls
- below it, a Promenade and a Meadow with geometrical plots
The botanical collections have been enriched since 2016, with 550 species growing in the gardens today.
It is elegantly paved with sandstone and, looking South, the facade of the outbuilding is festooned with climbing Pierre de Ronsart roses, with rhododendrons and hydrangeas thriving at their feet.
Looking West, Chinese and Japanese wisterias cover the Manoir’s facade.
Looking North, the facade of the Manoir and its Tuscan loggia are kept clear.
Looking East, a mixed border is leaning back against the perimeter wall; Blue and magenta have been chosen for the dominant colours during the planting in Autumn 2016.
At the Western corner, stairs lead to the Arboretum
Open to visits since 2017, it offers a stroll through a series of clearings encircled by mature trees.
Thanks to its position on the slope of the Mont Rude, overlooking the Loire valley, you can make out the river and several neighbouring church towers.
Just after the stairs, under the huge Himalayan cedars, you can also make out the towers of the cathedral of Angers (looking North-West), the vineyards (looking East), and the river forest hiding the Loire.
The first clearing is delimited with katsuras and its remarkable flavours in Autumn. Along the clearing, you can also discover a tulip tree, a dwarf strawberry tree, a Persian Parrotia, and an American sweetgum.
A second clearing opens towards the Loire Valley and offers views of the river and the church tower of La Daguenière on the riverbank opposite. A golden locust tree lights up the meadow in a spectacular way. Bunches of cedars, ash and birch trees encircle it.
A third clearing showcases a mature Amour River maple tree. Along its borders, you can observe nice specimens of plane, mulberry and Cappadoccian maple trees.
At the end of the Arboretum, go around the tennis court to get to the Promenade
It leads to the North facade of the Manoir, along the period retaining walls of the French garden, and offers views over the natural and geometrical meadows, with the Angers golf course as background.
The walk is clocked with alternating cones of yew tree and bowls of box tree looking like an elegant balustrade.
Hydrangeas and rhododendrons massively planted in the past are now mature. New, rare species have been recently added to enrich the garden in a few years’ time.
At your right midway through the Promenade, pass the wooden door and walk up the gravel alley to access the French garden
The French garden
Drawn on a rectangular terrace set as a balcony over the Loire valley, it is made of four rectangular lawns with yew trees at their corners and separated by gravel alleys.
The central alley leads to the Western perimeter wall, planted with climbing roses.
Looking South, a hornbeam hedge hides the slope.
Looking North, cubes of yew tree separate the lawn from the large pergola.
It is planted with ten different grape varieties and provides a generous harvest from September to November.
Between the cubes, groups of perennial flowers alternate with places to sit and look over the geometrical meadow.
Retrace your steps to continue the Promenade
The end of the Promenade and the Great meadow
The path takes you to the huge round-leave box tree, said to be four hundred years old. Standing 27 feet tall and with a 6-foot trunk, it is expected to be listed as a “Remarkable tree” in 2018.
The Promenade continues to the topiary garden, planted as a green setting of the North facade of the Manoir.
Accompanied by several fruit trees, two blue cedars soften the geometric impression and provide an elegant transition to the Great meadow.
The meadow is delimited by a 1-kilometer hornbeam hedge, a line of lime trees filling the garden in June with their fragrance, and two majestic rows of poplar trees.
It is divided into two parts:
- in the foreground, a natural meadow, cut once a year, is criss-crossed by close-cropped lawn paths leading to the chicken coop;
- the background is made of islands of natural grass, planted with young and rare trees, whose colour should be spectacular within a few years.
Wander along the close-cropped lawn lines if you are curious; otherwise, going between the laurel hedge and the Manoir, under the échauguette, the walk ends where it started in the Courtyard
Schedules and rates
In 2018, the gardens of the Manoir de la Groye are open to the public Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, May to September, from 10 to 12.30am and 2.30 to 6pm.
The tour is unguided and the entrance is 3€ per visitor (free for under-12s).
Guided tours by the landscape architect owner are possible any day for groups of 15 or more (5€ per person, 90′ duration).