Sunday, 6 June 2010


Today is being a lovely day. It is much cooler and damp with the threat of drizzle. This morning we went fairly early - before the tourists - to a local market and wandered along noting the ever increasing tourist tat and glad to see the all year rounders. Had a chat to the jam man. He is an Israeli who makes endless varieties of jams and chutneys. He used to give us a little pot and we used to buy occasionally but we have now all agreed that we really don't eat jam and chutney much but have a chat instead. He was bemoaning the fact that the french are so conservative about their eating and were very difficult to persuade to try things. He was hoping for more tourists who were wanting something french!

We then went to a local garden which was open at a cheaper rate this weekend to have a look. Parked at the bottom of a cliff where two large rivers meet and wandered slowly up the tiny village street to the chateau at the top where the garden is. A stunning village, immaculately kept probably by second home owners. On the way up it turned from nearly drizzle to rain for a few minutes so we popped in to a restaurant which was setting up and sheltered. Menu looked good and it has a lovely terrace under a vine - one to note for later.

We got to the garden at the top to discover a car park - wouldn't you know it. Went past the shut ticket kiosk into the shop and paid our money - after reminding the guy that it was supposed to be cheaper this weekend. He was about to start a guided tour so if we would care to wait a minute to see if anyone else turned up............ Nobody did so he started off.

It was a garden originally laid out by a french doctor to a sultan of Morocco on his retirement about 150 years ago. He wanted to make it as Moroccan as possible so he built himself a house in a Moroccan style and surrounded himself with plants. Unfortunately over the years it has been neglected and then bought 12 years ago by the commune and is now an educational garden in the french style. BUT the original trees are stunning. Huge palm trees, magnolia grandiflora and the star of the show is a giant sequoia straight from California! It is enormous and amazing. We were told when we visited them in California that they relied upon the fogs rolling in from the Pacific - obviously the damp air rising up the cliff from the two rivers will do.

The rest of the garden is a lesson for the french to try and get them to compost, mulch, leave wild flowers and show them what they might grow locally. Very unimaginative. There was a good water feature with interesting planting round a pool but since I could recognise everything it really isn't that innovative. There was another bit of a potager with plants to use as dye with labels with which bit you use and what colour and apparently the school kids come and look and then have a go at dying.

Given how useless gardens are usually in france it was lovely and much improved by a cool damp day and nobody else there. Ten out of ten for effort but the planting could have been sooooo much better.


  1. I think the problem is that communes can get grants for gardens with an educational slant...and bang goes all the interest in the actual plants...

  2. Now that explains a lot. They have renovated a water mill in the valley and put in a water garden which was also open yesterday but we didn't get to. And you can see from the road that it is full of labels and explanations :-)

  3. That's a shame! Still, I guess it's good that there is a garden there that you can meander around...

    C x

  4. rosie, wish you'd say the names of the villages you are writing about...I'm tempted to scout them out sometime. xx

  5. This one is Limeuil where Dordogne and Vezere meet

  6. I almost could have guessed that, I've stayed in that area often...and eaten at a little pizza restaurant on the banks there.