Wine and Wisteria Travel takes you to a few of my favourite organic gardens to visit in the Loire.

The French love their gardens and plants just as much as the British do. Nearly every village has a community garden. Towns and villages all have lots of colourful planting schemes, hanging baskets and pots. “France in Bloom” is popular and fiercely competitive.

I have often returned home from trips with masses of inspirational planting ideas.

The roundabouts are always planted up too with different themes, so much so one can barely see the traffic coming round.

The French are also very keen on growing their own vegetables particularly in rural areas where land is so cheap. Almost everyone has at least a small plot on which they grow their own.

Local markets in France are the best places for buying fresh produce that is ripe, flavoursome, delicious and organic. Grown in the village literally a few yards away usually, and picked fresh that morning for the market.


Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères
Arboretum des Grandes Bruyères
Organic garden to visit in the Loire

Situated in the Orleans forest the arboretum des Grandes Bruyères is a haven of peace and tranquility. No chemicals have ever been used here.

The atmosphere is one of serenity and relaxation surrounded by rare plants from both Asia and America.

There are five nationally recognised collections of

  • Magnolia
  • Cornus
  • Quercus
  • Firs
  • Cypress

In addition there is an 800 strong rose collection. Garden heaven for me and the scents are stupendous.

No wonder these gardens are officially classified ‘Jardin remarquable’ by the Ministry of Culture and the Committee of Parks and Gardens of France.

Work on clearing land to create this incredible garden started in 1972, work was done by hand in order to preserve the environment and the natural balance of the forest.

All chemical products, fertilisers or pesticides, are forbidden. This has of course resulted in significant populations of mammals, amphibians, birds and insects – making it the subject of regular scientific surveys.

Would that all gardens were treated as such. It just proves that we can garden perfectly well without the aid of any chemicals and in so doing enhance the health of the environment, wildlife and ourselves.

In 1979, it was classified as a voluntary nature reserve. The gates opened to the public for the first time in 1991 and in intervening years has grown into the stunning arboretum and plant collection that it is today with many awards, memberships and classifications. It is considered a site of special interest and as such is an absolute must to visit.

Visitors to this fabulous space can venture through 35 acres by way of a vast English garden, a lovely French garden, woodland gardens, a vegetable garden and an orchard, strolling through time and several countries.

Further information on opening times, entry fees and facilities.





Centre-Val de Loire



La Bourdaisière
La Bourdaisière

Calling all tomato lovers, situated on the banks of the Loire river this colourful and organic park and garden is where you will discover the National Tomato Conservatory, a unique collection of over 700 cultivars.

Visit the Bar à Tomates to sample flavoursome smoothies, juices, sorbets and many other delicious recipes.

There is also a contemporary garden named Dahliacolour with more than 400 varieties. More than 5000 breathtaking Dahlia in bloom through summer and autumn. Not to be missed if you’re a dahlia fan.

There is a shop and cafe. Dogs are allowed in the gardens accompanied by responsible owners.

You can make your visit even more special by staying at the magnificent Château de la Bourdaisière.


Further details on garden opening times, entry fees and facilities.



25 Rue de la Bourdaisère,




Château de Valmer
Château de Valmer Gardens

Italian Renaissance style hanging gardens in the heart of the Loire Valley.

Not only can you stroll through these charming gardens, visiting the kitchen garden, finding edible flowers and several national collections but you also get a free tasting of delicious Vouvray AOC wines that are produced at the Château… what’s not to like?

As well as the lovely gardens there is also a 17th century park and troglodytic chapel to explore.

This 60-hectare park features balustrades, statues, columns, stairs and fountains, ranging over eight terraces and levels.

The conservatory vegetable garden is home to myriad colours and flavours, edible plants and flowers enjoyed during the summer.

Cultivation practices preserve and improve the quality of the soil, fauna and flora (homemade compost, mulch, green manure.)

The gardens provide shelter and food for useful predators of insect pests: ladybird, hedgehogs and pollinators.

There are many picturesque areas for picnics too. What better way to enjoy such stunning surroundings than to indulge in delicious French picnic fayre accompanied by a chilled bottle of Vouvray wine.

Fresh bread, fruit, French cheeses and wine…my idea of heaven. What Should You Bring on a Picnic?

The gardens of Valmer are classified as “Remarkable Garden” by the Ministry of Culture and have been so since the labels creation in 2004.

They have also been awarded the Tripadvisor certificate of excellence.

Many of the beautiful features such as the gates, stone arches and stairways date from the 16th and 17th century. The gardens are well worth a visit just to see this wonderfully preserved architecture.

Italian terraces follow the slope of the hillside with a unique view of the vineyard.

The vineyard stretches around the terraced gardens in a horseshoe in a preserved ecosystem of forests and pastures. Part of the vineyard is planted in the historic enclosure of the walled park.

Vines at Château de Valmer planted on hillsides with clay-limestone soils overlooking the Brenne valley produce sparkling, dry, semi-dry and sweet white wines.

Why not indulge in an Open Cellar Weekend at Valmer? They are a unique opportunity to discover the exceptional century-old cellars and its wines.

Jean de Saint Venant, the owner,  personally conducts the tours. He embodies the 5th generation of enthusiasts who have worked the Valmer vineyards since the 19th century to produce exceptional wines.

There is a shop and cafe. Dogs are allowed in the gardens accompanied by responsible owners.

Further details on opening times, entry fees and facilities and information on Vouvray wines.






Park Floral de La Source.
Park Floral de La Source.

At the source of the river Loiret between the Loire valley and the Sologne hills lies the Parc Floral de la Source.

Here your senses are indulged with tropical birds, rose gardens, Iris, perennials as well as dahlias and fuchsias.

There is also a vegetable garden, hundreds of lovely ancient trees and a butterfly house.

This landscaped park of 35 hectares is another holder of the coveted “Remarkable Garden” award and rightly so. It’s Asian garden, tropical garden, masses of perennial plantings and extensive plant collection warrant the title. It is a beautiful place of relaxation.

The Parc Floral de la Source is a privileged site in which to take the time to wander and play and relax with a picnic.

Several gardens adorn the Parc Floral de la Source, Orléans, they offer so much diversity and interest.

The visitor can find alpine flora, aquatic flora, native flora and so much more

The flower gardens are free of any pesticide or herbicide.

Fertiliser is no longer used as excessively as it was 40 years ago, which means better quality gardens and more respect for the environment.

Floral Park Source Orléans-Loiret is in a process of restoration, preservation and good environmental practices. The flower park is aiming to change attitudes and voluntarily leaves wild spaces to encourage wildlife, insects and pollinators.

This allows for more development of  flora and fauna.

The goal of this beautifully maintained and cared for area is to promote organic farming and biodiversity.

You can find a shop, cafe, picnic areas, little train and mini golf and play areas. Dogs are welcome in the park accompanied by responsible owners.

Further information on opening times, entry fees and facilities.


Avenue du Parc Floral,





All of these gardens are partner gardens with the Royal Horticultural Society and therefore entry is free with your RHS Membership.

I hope I have given you a few choice gardens to visit whenever you may be in the Loire region of France.

They are all members of the Parks et Jardins of the Loire Valley and well worth your consideration for days out in France.

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