Garden Inspiration: French Garden in the Dordogne

This Garden Inspiration was written by guest blogger and gardener, Rob Harrison, who lives in France.

Karen and I moved to Le Banquet, Les Eyzies near Sarlat in Spring '04. We fell in love with the Dordogne following a Summer holiday the previous year.

Le Banquet is a beautiful ensemble of old farm cottages which we operate as self-catering gites during the Summer season.

Situated in some four and a half acres of the Vezere Valley, the most stunning garden of all is the areas outstanding natural beauty.

Faced with both more time and land than I had previously been used to, I have become hugely interested in gardening and never miss an opportunity to 'get outside'and 'do a bit'. I don't have any particular style, I just like to try things each year, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't-- but, that's gardening I guess, always work in progress.

One aspect of the garden that remains unchanged is the roses. Each year from about mid-June through most of July they are the star of the show. They simply look stunning blooming against the sand and limestone buildings typical of this area. I had over 50 at the last count.

At the start of spring my cold frames are over filled with as many annuals as I can sensibly sow to plant around the grounds. This year I grew Cleome, Amaranthus, the beautiful Nicotiana Sylvestris, Calendula and many others, too many in reality but who can resist the seed catalogues.

In the courtyard area I have some large Italian terracotta pots planted with clipped box and numerous pots filled with Perlagoniums (this is France after all) plus around the terraces, I like to grow things like Verbena, Ageratum and patio Roses again in terracotta pots.

As you follow the path down from the courtyard toward the river which runs through the estate you come to a small stone herb planter from which the guests can help themselves.

This year I planted a hot border close to the old tobacco drying barn. Filled with Canna 'Phasion', Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff, Verbena Bonariensis and Ricinus, by August it had really developed into haven of lush, abundant growth filled with sumptuous colour.

Away from the buildings, there are large areas of lawn puntuated with fruit and walnut trees that offer pretty views of the Valley.

Photos provided by Rob Harrison, Le Banquet.

Also visit Rob's blog Our French Garden in the Beautiful Dordogne



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