A garden show revisited in Loire Atlantique
On the 20th September, we decided to revisit a garden show held annually in a small town called Saffré. This is about a 20 minute drive south from us in the direction of Nantes. The show is held in the grounds of an old chateau which although is too far gone for complete restoration (just too expensive, I think), the town did restore the roof, made the building safe and is using the grounds as a park for the local inhabitants. The whole project only started in 2000 but already the place has the feel of always being there as a public garden. Most of the work was and continues to be, done by volunteers with great emphasis on children’s participation and ecology.
The garden festival is held over 2 days, has a few plant vendors, children’s shows every few hours, talks and lectures about gardening and ecology (in French of course), a bar and food outlet, and concerts with live bands on the Saturday night.
This year they also had a forge set up with displays of blacksmithing. There were 2 blacksmiths demonstrating their craft, one an expert in tool making and the other an all rounder but with a penchant for decorative ironwork. He told us that his last three pieces were based on Scottish Celtic knot designs which he had researched at the British museum in London. The designs looked deceptively simple but taking into account that you are working with a heavy metal bar around 4 meteres long, working out the sequence of overs and unders takes some doing. In this case he explained that the work took him and his assistant 2 days but was 3 months in the planning. He also undertakes a lot of restoration work locally, in Nantes and Paris. We were very impressed with his album of previous work and wished we had the kind of cash it takes to commission a piece from him.
The show also had a local bakery using organic flour selling delicious breads and pastries, a book stall and a display of gates and fencing made from – guess what? Old pallets! Well, Ian shot off back to his car for the photos I’d taken of his chicken coop and play house and spent a happy time sharing pallet thoughts with the people on the stall. They were well impressed.
It was a lovely return visit and we’ll probably go again next year but we had to finish this day out with our usual crépe/galette feast at Guenrouet. Read more about the wonderful places within spitting distance from our gites on our area page.