Les Jardins Tranquilles
(Nr Brantome, Dordogne)
These gardens, Les Jardins Tranquilles, nestling alongside the River Dronne, have a most serene ambience. It helped that when we visited, late in the afternoon, we were quite alone to explore the many pathways and secret spaces. It also helped that from most parts of the garden you can here the strains of Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky played from several carefully hidden speakers.
The gardens used to be called ‘Les Jardins d’Au-delà’ which actually means ‘The gardens beyond’ as in ‘beyond the river’. I really like that name as it has quite spiritual connotations.
This is not so much a flower garden, although there are flowers of course, but more a collection of the most wonderful shrubs and trees, statues and water features, incorporated seamlessly into the wonderful design.
It is enough to just stand looking up the sweeping lawn or to sit on the little island, drinking up the peace and tranquility, but there is much more to this garden.
One of the first areas you will see is the Italian Garden with its playing fountains and private seats, all enclosed by well kept hedges.
The whole area is kept under the watchful eye of a young maiden.
In the hedge behind the statue is a window leading you tantalisingly to the next garden.
This is a bit of fun, but showing some degree of skill in topiary
Moving on we come to one of my favourite parts – the Japanese garden. As you enter you hear the plops of frogs disappearing under the water lilies. They have more patience than we do, though as no matter how long you sit, they never seem to reappear.
If you can tear yourself away from the peaceful, oriental atmosphere you will find yet more things to explore.
You soon find yourself standing at the bottom of the large sweeping lawn.
Before walking up the lawn towards the house we are invited to cross a lovely wooden bridge to a small island in the river.
Leaving the island by a second bridge,
leading to a beautiful pot.
At the bottom of the garden we stop to admire an collection of different oak trees.
Then it is time to stroll up the long lawn towards the house.
flower beds filled with Autumn colour,
and a well-placed clump of feathery pampas grass.
Through the pampas you can see another beautiful statue.
Up at the top of the lawn is another wonderful surprise – a great piece of topiary that looks very like a Japanese cloud tree.
Don’t you just want to bounce on those padded seats?
To the right of the house there is a wild wooded area with a wonderful cotinus at the entrance. If you are lucky you will see a peacock strutting around the corner.
This wonderful garden was designed and created over many years by a Jean-Pierre Textier in the 1990s, but the property changed hands a few years ago. It is now owned and cherished by a British couple, Melody and Robert Stanton; they informed me that Jean-Pierre still calls by every now and then for an inspection visit!
Melody and Robert do a lot of the gardening work in the ten acre property themselves, but they draw the line at pruning the many box hedges that adorn the property – there would not be enough hours in the day! They are helped by a couple of part time gardeners as and when required.
We were lucky enough to meet Melody and Robert and really enjoyed talking to them and hearing about their garden. They were lovely people and I would have liked to talk to them a lot longer, but they had a plenty of work to do; sweeping leaves, feeding the peacocks, geese and other birds and cutting the acres of grass.
We didn’t manage to explore all the corners of the garden or to take as many photographs as we would have liked, but that just means we will have to visit again. We are told that July is the best month, although “every season is magnificent in its own way”. If you want to visit the garden you need to check out the opening hours as the garden is not open all year, but I certainly recommend that you do.