Sunday 26 August 2012

French garden inspiration

... (or more reasons to visit the Dordogne)
In the middle of the Périgord Noir, high up above the Dordogne valley on 500 acres of protected forestry, are the Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac 

Imagine – this manor and its gardens have been in the same family for 500 years, spanning 22 generations. 

An original castle built in the Middle Ages was burnt down in the course of wars that ravaged the Dordogne, and the present Manor house (above and below) was built in the 17th century from its ruins ... 

including a chapel (below right) across the courtyard from the house, all built from golden Périgord stone ...

The gardens have developed through stages since the 18th century, following successive garden-fashion trends, in Italian and later English styles. But the present gardens are the creation of Gilles Sermadiras, the father of the current descendant, who recreated them entirely 40 years ago. 

Every tree he planted then was only 20 cm high, but his vision was clear – a formal garden, combining Classical and Romantic styles, planted mainly with yew, cypress and box

There are gardens within gardens here – French, Italian Renaissance, English Romantic, a 'white garden', a potager and a meadow garden. There is topiary everywhere and lots of water features.

Arched windows clipped into hedges frame views of the countryside (above, top right) in the formal Italian garden

The Jardins d'Eyrignac are recognised as one of les plus beaux de France and are one of the top visited gardens in France. They’ve even inspired French fabric designer Pierre Frey to create a fabric called Les Jardins d’Eyrignac! You can see the Chinese pagoda, the Italian gardens and the manor house on the swatch ...
                                            Photo source:
Not far away, but very different from the formal, structured gardens of Eyrignac, are the Jardins de Cadiot, near Souillac ...

This is all the amazing work of Anne-Marie and Bernard Decottignies, who spent 30 years creating these gardens from what was two hectares of rock, sand and weed ...

It's also laid out as a series of garden 'rooms', but more creatively, with not only an English and a Tuscan garden, but also a wild rose garden, a jardin de poésie, a verger, a forest garden and a labyrinth

I loved the looser, slightly wilder feel and warm colours, very typical of the French southern countryside


  1. On the flip side of this we have typical Houston neighborhoods, built 50-60-70 years ago or more, homes being torn down and replaced with giant new mansions. In one way it is sad to see the history go, but we all understand the value of close-in land. Of course, we never had anything like you have to begin with. This is just inspirational, Karen. Beautiful post !!

  2. More stunning photographs Karen! I have rarely visited my small garden this summer - if only I had a gardener! I prefer the second series of photographs of the less formal gardens. I think I could relax and perhaps dare to have picnic behind the walled garden whereas in the more formal gardens I think I would have to dress up and behave!

    I love the old garden gate but I wonder if it was deliberately placed there for effect. Bella B!

  3. Thank you, Karen, for the continuation of this Dordogne tour. Each of these gardens is quite spectacular in its own way. Your photography is superb, as always.

    The topiary is so witty, and must take lots of upkeep. Seeing the garden-inspired fabric was another treat. It looks as if the Frey designers got it absolutely right!

    And that second garden is so inviting. It's remarkable that it could have been created by a few folks...with the help of Mother Nature, of course. I imagine that birds and bees must be plentiful in the midst of this environment.


  4. You do go to the best places on the planet.
    I'd like to walk in your shoes...
    Heavenly gardens indeed!


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