Princely Potagers at the Huntington

May 6, 2013

Versailles-Kitchen_GardenThe history and aesthetics of the kitchen garden in France, beginning with the Sun King’s celebrated potager in Versailles, are explored in this lecture by Eric Haskell, director of the Clark Humanities Museum at Scripps College.

What we locals, commoners, and average folk might call a “kitchen garden” would be scoffed off the premises in comparison to the likes of Versailles. Another chateau to be included in the lecture “Princely Potagers” at the Huntington, was Villandry, built on the banks of the Loire during the Rennaissance—home to neither king or queen, but to a minister of finance, Monsieur Jean Le Breton.

The grand gardens on the premises include a kitchen garden, where head gardner Laurent Portuguez strives to live up to his motto, “Observe to anticipate and anticipate to avoid using chemical treatments.” To that extent, Portuguez (who came on board in 2009) and his team have stopped using pesticides, use natural fungicides, organic fertilization, weed the whole sit “traditionally with tools such as wheel-mounted hoes and harrows…and some very patient gardeners!” (source:

Kitchen Garden, Chateau Villandry; photo by blieusong

Kitchen Garden, Chateau Villandry; photo by blieusong

France’s symbol of “absolute monarchy” is, of course, the Palace of Versailles, home to the royal family from 1682-1789. The gardens cover a mere 800 hectares—over 1,976 acres!!!

Versailles "modest" kitchen garden

Versailles “modest” kitchen garden

Princely Potagers: French Kitchen Gardens from Versailles to Villandry
Tuesday, May 28th, 7:30
Free, but reservations needed; reserve online here or call 800.838.3006
Huntington Botanical Center, Ahmanson Room, 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino 91108

Chateau Villandry: Photo courtesy of

Chateau Villandry; photo courtesy of





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