CHÂTEAU DE VULLIERENS
by Vivian Holding
I finally made it to the Iris Gardens near Morges a year after hearing about it through a friend. “Why did it take so long to get there?”
The answer: The Jardin des Iris opens for only six weeks a year during the Iris flowering season and appalling weather kept me away last year. This year the garden will be open from 6th May until the 18th June 2017 and for three days from the 22nd-24th September 2017.
This year we were determined to go and fortunately we were blessed with beautiful weather on the day of our visit. We loved it!
Located a short drive from Morges (approximately a 40 min drive from Geneva), around 50,000 flowers and well over 400 varieties create the most magical mosaic of colours in both the gardens and the open field they are planted in.
History of the Gardens
The private gardens of the Château de Vullierens have been open to visitors for the Iris season since 1955. The first five varieties of Irises were planted in 1950 by Doreen Bovet, an American from San Francisco who was passionate about the flowers. She set out to transform a field into the unique garden it has become. Over time she forged links with famous iris hybriders and imported American specimens still unknown in Europe and acclimatised them to this region.
What makes these flowers so special?
Irises can be planted in any type of soil – whether it be dry or moist, can flower in full sun or part shade, are hardy and resistant to disease, are drought tolerant and flower abundantly in a large variety of colours and sizes.
What is there to see at the gardens?
There are several different areas of the gardens to discover, from the Secret Garden, Dorianne’s Garden, Daria’s Garden, The Chatelain’s Garden, Muni’s Garden, the Iris Field as well as the Enchanted Woodland. Irises are obviously the stars of the show, but there are also many other flowers to see – peonies, roses, alliums, tulips and clematis.
The newly created Sculpture Trail has several large and impressive structures such as the Corten Steel works from three separate artists – Beverly Pepper, Werner Pokorny and British born Gillian White, Mireille Fulpius’ land art labyrinth, the monumental burnt wood sculptures by Christian Lapie and the incredible Bing Bang metal sphere that has been exhibited in the garden since 2011 – measuring 3.5 metres in diameter, this giant windchime by the Swiss artist Etienne Krähenbühl, is demonstrated by him every Sunday.
Café des Jardins
On offer are a large selection of dishes from grilled brochettes and fish, quiches and salads, as well as desserts (including local strawberries from Vullierens). We chose a caesar salad and a quiche and salad – which we enjoyed whilst sitting on their veranda on the grass admiring the oversized table and chair sculpture nearby. On Sunday and bank holidays, the Café des Jardins serve brunch at CHF55 per adult. Reservations are necessary by telephone 078 637 9807 or email café@jardindesiris.ch. A food truck is also there at the weekend to cope with the demand.
Sale of Irises
Irises are for sale on their shop’s website and delivery is possible to both Swiss addresses, as well as other European addresses.
If you want to visit the gardens this year, you’ll have to hurry as it will close on Sunday 18th June 2017, otherwise like me, you’ll be forced to wait another year. Alternatively, visit during the three days in September (22nd-24th) when late flowering irises appear, their impressive rose collection is in bloom and the trees start to change colour.