Joachim Carvallo, Spanish-born doctor and medical researcher, was not enamoured by the garden he saw at Villandry in 1908. He sniffily described it as ”landscaped in the English style” - which we can safely assume was not intended as a compliment.
Medicine was all but forgotten as Joachim spent the rest of his life restoring the chateau and recreating its Renaissance kitchen gardens with old plans, written descriptions and archaeological clues as his guides. Thankfully, he had the good sense to marry an American heiress - an invaluable asset for any early 20th century Grand Designs project.
As far as edible gardening goes, the beds and borders of Villandry you can see today are as far from a ‘make-do-and-mend’ allotment space as it’s possible to imagine. And the high standards are not just aesthetic. In 2009 Henri Carvallo, Joachim’s grandson and the current owner, took the anything-but-small decision
to become organic. Combine the ‘no chemicals’ rule with miles of gravel paths and you will have an inkling of the dedication shown by the gardening team. This is not veg growing for the faint-hearted.