Visit Jardins de l'Albarede
The Jardins de l'Albarede can be found on the edge of the lovely town of Domme in the Dordogne department of South West France. It is one of France's classified "Remarkable gardens".
Completely surrounded by tree covered hills this secluded garden feels a million miles from the beautiful but extremely busy nearby town of Domme. The garden is small but thoughtfully planted with much to see.
Explore the Jardins de l'Albarede
The garden has been built in an area with very poor soil and harsh weather conditions with hot dry summers and cold winters. With careful plant selection and the extensive use of mulching the owners have still created a beautiful garden with lots to see and inspire. They have used their research and experience to write a number of books about gardening and particularly about dealing with poor soil.
No pesticides or herbicides are used in the garden and no extra soil has been added, only compost made in the garden. Wildlife is encoured to form a natural ecosystem which ensures the plants remain healthy.
The garden now has over a thousand different varieties of hardy and local plants and has a very natural look which is beautifully offset by the wooded hills all around the garden.
A visit to the garden starts near to the swimming pool. Often a low point in countryside gardens here the herbacious border near the pool has been filled with flowers each time I have been. The seasonal planting keeping up interest through spring to the end of summer.
Paving at the side of the pool has been laid in a patchwork fashion with squares of aromatic and medicinal herbs interspersed with squares of local stone. As you walk through and brush past the herbs the air is filled with their perfume.
Leaving the pool area the garden opens out to a large lawn with a border down one size and a fantastic potager the other. The large border spreads out from the small guest cottage made of local stone which sits in the garden and has an 'English garden style'. It is filled with a range of perennials and especially those suited to hot dry conditions such as Lavender, Achillea, Artemisia and Perowskia. Biennials add colour and include Evening Primrose which adds a delicious scent in early evening and seeds and spreads itself throughout the garden.
On the other side the potager, or vegetable garden, mixes flowers and vegetables, including many ancient varieties and, especially in late spring/summer looks as pretty as a flower garden. The potager includes many varieties of tomatoes and a few varieties of amaranthe including' love lies bleeding' which adds both height and colour.
To combat the poor soil and dry conditions vegetables are selected for their tolerance and the extinsive use of mulch stops the ground from drying out. Flowers are added to encourage beneficial insects to the garden as well as to look pretty.
A wild flower meadow and an apple orchard are next in the garden and lead to the box-tree garden. The French love topiaries and this garden is no exception. There is an area going up a hill with a whole selection of imaginative topiaries. Sadly these have been attacked a bit by the dreaded box caterpillar but at the Jardins de l'Albarede they are not treating the box bushes but waiting to see how nature deals with the infestation.
Continue up to the top of the garden and from here you have some excellent views of the quiet valley in which the garden is situated.
Les Jardins de l'Albarede garden guide
The garden is open every morning (9-12h30) from early June to September. Visits cost 6 euros for adults and are free to under 12s.
The garden is situated in the Dordogne near Domme which is one of France's most beautiful villages.
Address: Les Jardins de l'Albarède, 24250 St Cybranet
Gardens to visit nearby
The Jardins de Cadiot is a large and attractive garden near to Vitrac.
Also near here at Carsac-Aillac are the Jardins d'Eau de Carsac which are water gardens with lots of water lilies and lotus flowers.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.