South West France is one of the best regions in the country for garden lovers. There are a large number of gardens to visit in the region where sunny weather mixed with the humidity along the rivers Dordogne, Lot and Garonne has led to a number of gardens being developed.
Les Jardins du Chateau de Hautefort
At the foot of the castle, overlooking the village this garden consists of symmetrically shaped parterres on the terraces. Topiaries decorate the parterres and some of these are clipped to represent the domes of the castle. More parterres filled with flowers including some beautiful purple roses surround the castle. Behind the castle there is a park with some superb viewpoints over the valley below.
Les Jardins du Chateau de Hautefort are a classified historic monument. The gardens are also one of France's classified "Remarkable Jardins".
Jardins de Sardy
The gardens are classified as one of France's "Remarkable Gardens". This garden merges a fantastic formal pond very much in an Italian style with cylindrical cypress trees dotted around. You enter onto a gravel courtyard surrounded by stone buildings in a typical Dordogne style with beautiful planting and a path leads past a sloping garden down to a flat area with a huge formal pond, this is very much the highlight. Take a cup of tea or coffee on the terrace of the lovely farmhouse when you have finished your visit, and you can even buy a bottle of wine from the Sardy vineyards.
Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac
This is certainly one of the best gardens in the Dordogne, indeed they are listed as a National Historic Monument and is the most visited garden in the Perigord.
The garden contains box hedges clipped into amazing swirling patterns. It is these shapes in vivid green with occasional pine trees and the backdrop of the valley of the Dordogne that is really quite magical. All in all there are 150,000 hand pruned box plants aged over one hundred years old in the gardens.
Following this amazing site you will find areas filled with rosemary and santoline ushering you along to more than 6kms of walks leading towards the ‘belvedere’ which is 192m high, offers spectacular views over the Dordogne river below.
The whole park is great for kids with dedicated play areas with swings and such like. There is also a picnic area and a tea-room/restaurant (also with great views) making this a great place to spend a few hours.
From July to the end of August the gardens are open every Thursday evening and lit by candlelight and other light sources, to highlight the beauty of the cliffs and the park. In different areas of the park musicians play. A truly magical evening.
This garden is almost entirely made up of topiaries, with huge hedges cut into intricate geometric patterns and pots full of clipped box. There are five main parts to the garden, the Plant Sculptures Kingdom, the Box Labyrinth, the Manor and French garden, Capucine's gardens and the White Garden and Flower Meadow.
Les Jardins du Chateau de Losse
This garden has a very 'French' feel. The low garden in front of the stables is comprised of square hedges of rosemary filled with balls of lavender which when in season smell heavenly. A pathway to the round tower delivers clipped hedging containing scented roses and catmints.
Other parts of the garden near the river have high hornbeam hedging with long flower borders edged with a low box hedge, traditional to French formal gardening. However whilst formal in inspiration the use of the roses and catmint to fill the beautifully shaped and trimmed box hedging gives it a more informal air.
Les Jardins de Colette & her giant maze
This garden is a tribute to the famous novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. A magnificent contemporary floral park of around five hectares it consists of six themed gardens representing the regions of France that shaped the life and works of the novelist. From the garden of her childhood in Burgundy to the French-style garden of the Palais-Royal, through the wild garden of Franche-Comté, the seaside garden in Brittany, the verdant garden of Corrèze and the sensory garden of Provence, lovers of flowers and other plants are invited on a genuine voyage around France.
The giant maze of 5,000 m² dotted with puzzles and extra large games add to the fun of this magical place.
Jardins de l'Imaginaire
The town of Terrasson decided they wanted to create a garden on the slopes above their town and launched an international competition to find a designer. The competition winners were the French-American designer Kathryn Gustafson and her partner Philippe Marchand and the gardens were created in the 1990s. They cover 6 hectares and took 4 years to create.
Les Jardins de l'Imaginaire was classified as 'Jardins Remarquable' by the French Ministry for Culture in 2004. They have also been labelled as an important '20th century heritage site' by the French Ministry for Culture for its modern architecture displayed in its greenhouse and hard landscaping.
The garden contains 13 different areas including: a long tunnel covered in wisteria, clematis, jasmine and other climbers; a contemporary rose garden which includes 1600 roses plus 360 climbing roses; a wonderful fountain walk which follows a water trail down cascades; a topiary garden - essential in a French garden; and an award winning greenhouse designed by British architect Ian Ritchie.
Jardin Panoramique de Limeuil
The gardens are entered by a medieval chateau, behind which is a pleasant tea garden offering refreshments. The garden begins with an area laid out in the manner of a medieval garden and filled with aromatic plants and herbs and then opens out into a park with trees, some more than a hundred years old.
The garden path then takes you to a view point over the confluence of the rivers Dordogne and Vezere. Lovely stone arched bridges meet to form a long L-shaped bridge across the rivers and makes for a very picturesque view. From here you can also see down over the roofs of the village of Limeuil, classed as one of the most beautiful villages of France. There is a nice water garden with a pond surrounded by some pretty mediterranean style planting.