I love visiting gardens, but it’s not often that a garden completely exceeds all your expectations. However, the field of tomatoes at Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire really took my breath away and I’m now yearning for a larger, sunnier garden (preferably walled) to try out a fair few of the 630 varieties that were on offer. Yes, six hundred and thirty!
I can’t say that I counted them all, but there were row upon row of beautifully trained (and labelled) fruits in all shapes, sizes and colours and although I try to avoid dumping loads of gratuitous photos, I’m going to have to share a fair few pics of cultivars that caught my eye. Above is the mini light bulb shaped Beam’s Yellow Pear. Not quite as tasty as its natty looks suggest, but I’d be very happy for it to grace my salad bowl any summery day for its form alone.
Yellow tomatoes kept on catching my eye as we gently wandered around the garden. Banana Legs was firm and delicious and available from Nicky’s Seeds, (who stock around 150 varieties of tomatoes). Definitely a good UK seed supplier to start with if you’re looking to try out a few different tomato varieties.
Striped Black Zebra was good and tasty, as were many of the larger ‘black’ varieties. Without a greenhouse, it can be a bit of a gamble as to whether the larger black varieties will ripen in the UK, but one of the cooks recommended Ananas Noir, a big meaty brute of a fruit, and of the varieties we tasted, this was the most delicious. Also on next year’s list.
Loved the look of Veronique,
Berkshire Polish (An heirloom from Poland, grown for at least for one generation in Berkshire County, Massachusett-according to Tatiana’s Tomato Base in the US),
Cream Sausage and
the heavenly aubergine coloured Tomato Osu. Some months later (and now in 2014), I have seen a similarly gorgeous ‘black’ tomatoes for sale called ‘Indigo Rose’ from Plant World Seeds. Ten seeds will set you back £2.85 or free with a catalogue and 2 x first class stamps or try Blue Bayou from Chilterns Seeds at £3.00 a pack.
Sadly, the cooler rather overcast day meant that smaller visitor numbers didn’t warrant opening the Tomato Bar (NB Visit next time on a warm sunny day!),
but the lovely Pascale allowed us snip off a few tomatoes for our own mini tasting session. What a treat! If you’re holidaying or passing through the Loire in summer and tomatoes and dahlias are your thing, this garden should not be missed!
P.S. You can also stay in rooms and apartments at the Chateau!