The Bois des Moutiers is located in Varengeville-sur-Mer, Haute-Normandie, France. This estate of 30 acres (0.12 km2) is well known for the rare plant varieties that were introduced and naturalized among local flora. The house and gardens, both dating from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, are a first-class example, unique in France, of the work of the famous English partnership of architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.
A large park overlooking the sea and formal gardens surrounding a manor house, where the original owner's descendants still live, make up the Bois des Moutiers. The estate is listed as a historical monument and a Remarkable Garden of France.
In 1898 he entrusted Edwin Lutyens, with the enlargement and renovation of his residence and Gertrude Jekyll, a celebrated English garden designer, with the landscape architecture. These two artists acted as one to create a unified work, the building and the gardens working in symbiosis.
TEdwin Lutyens was commissioned to extend and re-model the existing building, he did so in an Arts-and-Craft style. This style is characterized by the recognition and importance on the materials, to create unique, relatively plain works, and above all by a reminder that craft deserves to be considered as a work of art. Consistent with this, the buildings of the Bois des Moutiers are conceived as a full-fledged work where every detail of wrought iron and woodwork has been taken care of during their creation. Unfortunately, occupying German troops removed all the iron door handles (by Morris & Co) during World War II.
The gardens, seven in all, are enclosed areas (chambres verts – "green rooms" of plants) surrounding the house on the south and east sides. Gertrude Jekyll, their creator, mixed colours and scents together in order to design a unique atmosphere in each of them. The layout of the gardens relates closely to the rooms within the house; for example, the two stone seats set in niches in a yew hedge at the end of the White Garden mirror the arrangement of two small closets and a large mullioned window at the opposite end of the music room.
The acidic soil and maritime climate are favourable for introducing species such as Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas from China. Behind the house, beyond a wide lawn, Guillaume Mallet designed and planted a vast area, which stretches down to the sea cliffs, with a maze of winding paths through a dense woodland of native and exotic trees, sheltering an understorey of rhododendrons and azaleas, hydrangeas, Japanese maples, camellias and magnolias.
The estate that had been badly damaged during the war. In 1970, the Mallet family opened their property to the public. The Bois des Moutiers became the first private garden in France that could be visited by the public. Very soon, it was considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens of France and was listed as a historical monument in 1975 before being awarded the status of a "Remarkable Garden of France". Since its opening, two million people have visited this park.
Visitor numbers have declined in the last few years and maintaining the estate has become increasingly difficult to manage. It is uncertain that Bois des Moutiers will be open to the public in the future.