3-22-19 Gardens around Sarlot

After we completed our adventure in Avignon and Saint Remy, we needed a direction to go. Having received several recommendations from friends to visit the New Aquitaine region and more specifically to visit cave paintings, we headed for Sarlot in the Perigord area close to the Dordogne River.  Spring weather, however, changed our days in the Dordogne Region to garden adventures instead of caves as the Lascaux caves have been carefully reproduced for touring, but the actual caves are closed to protect them and the small tram that allows visitors to view the actual painted walls at Rouffignac does not start up until April we shifted gears and went to two different gardens. No regrets.

Proud as a peacock is a phrase from resident of Perigord, so Marqueyssac cock shows off for 3 hens

Marqueyssac gardens perched on sandstone cliffs above the fertile valley of the Dordogne overlooks

View of sandstone cliffs and Dordogne river

Beynac castle, Fayrac and Castelnaud and was abloom with fruit trees and green fields. Six kilometers of shaded walks are lined with 150,000 boxwood trees and rockeries.

Sensuous spring green
yes, it really is this manicured

The topiary art maintained by 5 gardeners by hand offers surrealistic mounds and mazes as well as “stone blocks” near the mansion.

Feels green enough for St.Patricks celebration , oh, and equinox.
David thought this was really strange a Jurassic dinosaur purchased by estate owner to give perspective of how old the valley is . This was recovered from Wyoming!
My boxwood we had in Alhambra was only 40 years old, so I guess I couldn’t have pruned it into marshmallows

The Holm oaks, often limned in moss and lichen, are dark foliaged, and are the reason this is called Perigord Noir.

Janeen was ready to water the garden!
Which of the 5 gardeners gets to prune this terrace? Dordogne views in the distance
Shape matters
Stone block “chaos” under remaining Holm oaks overlooking the mansion at Marqueyssac
stone block topiary which inspired the blocks of Marqueyssac

Returning to Sarlat, center of Perigord Noir, we dined on duck, foie gras, confit, grilled duck breast, and strolled past multiple shops with shelves lined with goose liver. One of the things David had wanted to do was visit a geese farm – alas we couldn’t find any that were open and had an English tour – darn.

When a second day of warm spring weather, blue skies and sunshine greeted us, David wound his way across the back roads of Perigord Noir to Eyrignac Gardens,

Information in English, surrounded by the six other visitors that arrived with us, which did not increase

privately owned estate for 22 generations. Bright green carpets of lawn are edged with gravel paths to let one wander the 200-hectare estate viewing 6 gardens.

one of walkways across lawn carpet, leading away from “resting” signature alley

The defining walkway of yew and hornbeam pruned into architectural shapes was in “recovery” mode.

Hornbeam and Yew arcade during a “rest” before spring budding
Hornbeam and Yew sculptures at height of excellence

It required a postcard to in vision.

French garden controlled by pruning

Formal French gardens are adorned with topiary, benches set in meditative alcoves, and 17th century water features.

Cypress topiary and water feature
collection of non native trees enclosed with boxwood bollards
Hedge around central daffodil filled fountain includes “windows” into the view of the spring green valley

Italian influence is also viewed down an arcade of terra cotta planters and overlooking this arcade, a small English “natural” garden that leads to the family chapel.

Janeen misses the camellias of southern California
former dog kennels with “typical” fieldstone shingle roof

The White Garden, newest of developments, is entered through a crimson Tori gate and graced with multiple fountains, including bronze frogs.

Garden joy for five decades
White Garden with bronze frog fountain and spring white blooms

Seasonal hyacinth, tulips and narcissus defined spring White. Red viewing benches overlook the topiary farmyard, espalier orchard in process, and four meadows: wildflowers, grape varietals, decorative grasses, and “roaming square” being planted.

Espalier apple blossoms in orchard garden
Farmyard squirrel with regional walnut in paws
Farmyard topiary guard dog on alert near White Garden

Both of these gardens were a joy to visit and we had them virtually ours to explore without anyone around. There “might” have been 3 other couples in the garden while we explored.

While we didn’t get to either of the historic caves, we certainly had a wonderful time staying in Sarlat and venturing out to the surrounding villages.

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