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  • Ellen Mary

The gardens of the Dordogne

I ventured away from lovely Norfolk for a week to the Dordogne in France for some time out to relax and rest my green fingers. My husband and I drove down to the middle of no where through lush green rolling hills and castles built into caves. A great deal of medieval architecture to see and a clearly a very special place. I hadn't expected to stumble upon quite a few stunning gardens and the tiny villages really were a flowery surprise!

The soil in the region is perfect for roses because they adorned walls and gardens everywhere we ventured. We could smell them in the air, it was fabulous. Salvias were a hit as well, lots of ‘Hot Lips’ about.

In the small town of Limeuil whilst admiring the view across hills we found a stunning garden with a breathtaking view over to the Dordogne river. The Gardens of Limeuil were full of surprises, old beautiful trees, insects walks, a bee hive, water garden area, educational boards for children and lots of stunning planting. Irises where just coming to an end but the roses were in bloom and medicinal garden was really informative with boards explaining how clothes were dyed from plants back in medieval times and the kind of plants and vegetables grown many years ago.

We later ventured out to the Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac, the most visited garden in Perigord. Perfectly clipped and pruned box hedging was quite a sight and its hard to describe without seeing it but I would say it was formally informal and regularly irregular!! From the soft, romantic boxwoods to the more rugged woodland walks towards the Belvedere Platform, there was plenty to take in. The platform is 192 metres above ground level with panoramic views of the valley. Definitely not to be missed.

Not to mention and probably my favourite stumble was in the town La Roque Gageac. We decided to climb up the steep pathways to a wine shop (when in France) and when we left I noticed some of the plants along the cobbled street had name tags, how thoughtful of the locals to educate. But it became apparent the town has created its own microclimate and we suddenly left medieval France and walked through the tropics. It was a total surprise! La Roque Gageac hangs on a South facing cliff and its fertile soil is home to a walkway of stunning tropical planting. Banana plants along with palm trees, bamboos by cacti and mostly labelled. Incredible!

So, whilst my hands did get a rest from gardening, my mind was continuously stimulated with ideas for planting plans. A lush green region of France to visit.

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