France · Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac
“The gardens of Marqueyssac are an enchanting swirl of box hedges set high above the Dordogne river.”
The Château and Gardens Of Marqueyssac, conceived some 300 years ago by one of the followers of André le Nôtre – the mastermind behind the Versailles gardens, this dreamy expanse of topiary art includes 150000 hand-pruned boxwoods crisscrossed by a network of shaded walking paths that allow for wandering and exploration.
The gardens were built in 17th century. They are one of France’s listed ‘Jardins Remarquable’ and are the most visited in the Perigord area. Bertrand Vernet de Marqueyssac, who was a counselor to Louis XIV, built the château. However, the famous gardens of carved boxwood trees was planted by Julien de Cervel in 1860s.
The Marqueyssac gardens are on a hill overlooking the Dordogne River, with splendid views. The primary planting is boxwood hedging, with cypress and wild cyclamen. The walking path in these gorgeous gardens stretches for 5 kilometers. The box is more sculpted than clipped, with the organic shapes harmonizing with the landscape. The clipping is done, by hand, with only 4 gardeners and the planting dates from the 19th century.
When entering the gardens the surrounding garden is a sort of crazy formal French style garden. Laid out in traditional French style as far as lots of clipped box goes this has been given a dramatic twist by clipping the box hedges into a mass of swirls, whorls and rounds giving the areas a dynamism not often seen in this type of gardening.
Wander a bit further from the chateau and you will see the long promenade added to the gardens at the end of the 18th century. This is bordered with immaculately manacured clipped rosemary and santoline. Wandering a bit further and the garden becomes a pleasant stroll along the wooded cliff top with lots of box planted in the woods.
For a truly magical experience, go visit on a summer Thursday evening, when the gardens are lit by thousands of candles, creating a romantic, almost surreal atmosphere.