There is not a more exotic garden in Europe than Val Rahmeh.
As you walk into the garden past the ancient palms you can be in no doubt of this.
It is now the Jardin Botanique Exotique of the French Museum of National History but still, particularly around the house, has the feeling of a fabulous private garden, which is how it came into being. Favoured with a microclimate that keeps it frost free, Daturas, Frangipani, and citrus fruit like Grapefruit thrive. The ochre walls of the house and the big retaining walls are hung with climbers, Bougainvillea in every colour, Pandorea and the beautiful mauve Thunbergia grandiflora. I tried to grow the Thunbergia in my French garden, but without success. The first time I saw this garden was when we were making a garden in Cap d’Antibes. There was an extraordinary tree blooming, its dark pink petals falling all over the ground, its tall trunk studded with thorns. On returning this time it wasn’t flowering, but I made a point of checking its name – Chorisia speciosa, the Silk Floss tree.