Latour-Marliac waterlily garden, Lot-et-Garonne visitors guide
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The Latour Marliac garden is a stunning waterlily garden and nursery that has been in operation since 1875. Joseph Bory Latour Marliac developed a method of crossing a white waterlily, that was the only hardy waterlily of the time, with tropical and wild waterlilies from elsewhere in the world and creating a range of hardy waterlilies in a wide range of colours.
Latour Marliac exhibited his new colourful waterlilies at the Universal Exhibition of 1889, when the Eiffel Tower also was revealed for the first time, and became something of a sensation. He won first prize in his category and his waterlilies attracted the eye of Claude Monet who ordered a large quantity for his garden at Giverny.
Explore the Latour-Marliac garden
When you enter the Latour Marliac garden and nursery the first thing you see are the dozens of long horizontal nursery ponds each filled with different colours and varieties of waterlilies. There are eighty ponds in total and these are used to grow and store the 300 different varieties of waterlily that are available for sale. The ponds are beautiful with the jewel colours of the waterlily flowers, and noisy with the sound of the resident frogs!
Latour Marliac has one of the largest collections of water lilies (Nymphaeaceae) in the world. Flowering times for the hardy and tropical water lilies ranges from May to October with the peak being June, July and August.
Along the side of the waterlily ponds are the lotus ponds. With their beautiful flowers of white and many shades of pink and their sculptural seedheads these are lovely to see. Their main flowering time is July and August.
At the far end of the gardens is the restaurant and toilets and in front of these are the original lily ponds laid out by Bory Latour Marliac in 1870. They are laid out in shapes reflecting the Art Nouveau movement of the time. In these ponds you can admire the National Collection of Nymphaea (water lilies).
Amongst the nearly 300 varieties are examples of every variety created by Latour Marliac as well as more recent varieties in beautiful blue and violet colours that are the result of crosses between hardy and tropical varieties.
The pots around the edges of the ponds were used to propogate the water lilies. Apparently if you put a rhizome in a pot of water in full sun it will quickly push out new shoots that can be planted to create new plants.
Near to the entrance building there is a greenhouse which contains the giant water lily with giant leaves and huge flowers of 50cm diameter which change colour. These are known as the Victoria and only appear in the night.
There is another larger greenhouse full of tropical waterlilies and the temperature in here is up to 45°.
When you have finished admiring the waterlilies there is a very pleasant garden set out around a small lake which is of course full of waterlilies and has a Japanese bridge evocative of that of Giverny. Around the edges hibiscus flower and shrubs and trees all add to the beautiful setting. A walk around the gardens and around the water lily pond is a pleasure and offers many views over the gardens as a whole.
A long rose arch which is also covered in wisteria and passion flowers, a bamboo garden, a shady garden and a gloriette are also in the garden. At Latour-Marliac there is also a restaurant at the edge of the more ornamental older water lily ponds and this is a great location to sit for lunch. The food is good too but you often need to book to be sure of a place! The Café Marliacea is open from 1 May to 30 September from 12.00-15.00.
Claude Monet and Latour-Marliac
As soon as his lake at Giverny (now one of the most famous French gardens) was finished Claude Monet ordered a large number of colourful waterlilies from Latour Marliac and made these famous in his waterlily paintings. At this time Monet's lake was home to an almost exclusive collection of colourful waterlilies and Monet guarded these for himself allowing only family members an a few close friends to visit his water garden.
Eight of his huge waterlily paintings are on permanent display at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris and the rest of his waterlily paintings are displayed around the world. Monet devoted much of the last thirty years of his life to his waterlily series and there are around 250 paintings in total.
There is a small museum at Latour Marliac gardens where you can see some of the correspondance that took place between Latour Marliac and Monet including an order for a large number of the waterlilies for Giverny.
Places to visit nearby
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Ets Latour-Marliac: remarkable garden
- Eglise de Sainte Livrade (Sainte-Livrade-sur-Lot): religious monument (6 km)
- Pujols: most beautiful village (13 km)
- Grottes de Fontirou: site of natural beauty (15 km)
- Agen cathédrale St Caprais (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (21 km)
- Eglise Notre Dame (Frespech): religious monument (25 km)
- Monflanquin: most beautiful village (25 km)
- Walibi Aquitaine: theme park (26 km)
- Eglise de Sainte Marie (Aubiac): religious monument (27 km)
- Prieuré de Sainte Marie (Moirax): religious monument (27 km)
- Eglise de Saint Martin (Layrac): religious monument (29 km)
- Nerac: secteur sauvegarde (31 km)
The French version of this page is at Latour-Marliac waterlily garden (Francais)