For those of us (all right, me) of certain imaginative persuasion, the phrase ‘meet me in the garden’ is redolent of any number of very bad crime films. It would be typically uttered sotto voce by Alan Tilvern or any other British B-feature “heavy” to one of his ultra-Brylcreemed confederates before Russell Napier sweep up in Scotland Yard’s finest Wolseley.

Such a vision demonstrates both the miss-spent youth of this writer and the fact that he is in dire need of a large café au lait.  The “Rendez-vous aux Jardins”  festival – https://rendezvousauxjardins.culture.gouv.fr/ -is a major event organised by the Ministry of Culture and Communication that takes place on the first weekend of June. From Friday the 7th to Sunday the  9th parks and gardens across France will be open to the public across France. The event also includes various concerts, exhibitions and talks. The theme for this year is “Animals in the garden” – from sheep to ladybirds.

Of course, there are strict criteria for those who wish to take part.  The Ministry stipulates that a garden must be well-maintained and that it is of particular interest, be it aesthetic, architectural, botanical, or historic. There should also be a host, be it the owner or the gardener, often conducting guided tours. As with any major show, ninety per cent of the effort is beneath the surface – but the results are almost always worth the hours, days and weeks of planning.

Will Chateau de Bois Giraud one day extend the invitation to meet in the garden? It is a serious undertaking, as this is a three-day celebration of horticulture and French heritage, but perhaps in the future, the grounds may be seen as worthy of being part of the festival. Meanwhile, there can be few more delightful ways of anticipating summer in the Loire Valley.