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A Double Iris Baptism!

Iris 'Faïence de Gien'

Jean et Richard Cayeux, Louis Grandchamp des Raux
Jean et Richard Cayeux, Louis Grandchamp des Raux

As part of the celebrations to mark the 190th anniversary of the Faiencerie de Gien, a world famous faience chinaware factory in our neighbouring town of Gien, Richard Cayeux officially dedicated his new iris hybrid 'Faience de Gien' to the Faiencerie, in tribute to a local skill with an international reputation.

The baptism of this beautiful iris took place on 24th May in the gardens of the Cayeux family home, surrounded by the iris fields where Richard Cayeux does his hybridization work. Each year sees many of these new varieties winning international awards be it in Italy, Germany, Russia, France or of course England. This is in no small part due to a family 'savoir-faire' or know-how dating back more than a century, maintained and developed with real dedication by a single family!

Our irises have also inspired the artist Claire Basler who created for the occasion some superb decorations on several of the Faiencerie's one-off pieces, using the 'Barbotine' or clay slip technique, which were unveiled at the baptism. As well as this, during the whole flowering season we have been providing beautiful arrangements of irises in vases at the entrance to the Faiencerie. This wonderful celebration brought together the art of the table with that of the garden two worlds where flowers reign supreme due to their natural grace and beauty.

Iris 'Jacques Coeur'

Richard Cayeux, Pcess de la Tour d’Auvergne, Anna Gavalda
Richard Cayeux, Pcess de la Tour d’Auvergne, Anna Gavalda

It was in the superb setting of the gardens of nearby Château d'Ainay-le-Vieil that we celebrated the baptism of our iris 'Jacques Coeur' on the 3rd June. Numerous examples of 'Jacques Coeur' had been planted at the heart of the meditation garden last autumn and cultivated with great care by Princess de la Tour d’Auvergne, owner of the château. Over the past 30 years she has re-created and developed the Château d'Ainay park with a real passion. The visitor, strolling from chartreuse* to chartreuse between the canals, discovers at each step a different natural world, carefully planned to supply both surprises and great pleasure.

Jacques Coeur, Grand Treasurer to King Charles VII and former owner of the Château d'Ainay, inspired Richard Cayeux when he selected this gold and raspberry-red iris to be included in his new iris creations for 2010. The ruffles of its flower remind one of the pleated folds of a courtier’s costume of that period.

The iris 'Jacques Coeur' was officially celebrated by the members of the 'Route Historique de Jacques Coeur' organization, joined by a large number of local councilors and those in charge of tourism for this part of France, as well as by the iris's "godmother" the talented and sparkling novelist Anna Gavalda. Her speech, worthy of any of her writings, underlined quite rightly the unexpected joy of this moment when horticultural know-how and historical heritage came together to the great enjoyment of all who were there.

We all hope that 'Jacques Coeur' will find a place in collectors' gardens throughout the world, giving those who grow it the inspiration to come in spring to our beautiful region of France and discover the many treasures which the Route de Jacques Coeur has brought together!

* chartreuse: an area enclosed by 3m high hornbeam hedges that create a favourable microclimate for the growing of plants and the ripening of fruits.