06By Ann Evans


No trip to the Dordogne is complete without a visit to Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire in the historic town of Terrasson overlooking the Vèzère Valley. This is a very special garden that engages the senses. It’s not just looking and smelling, but sounds and textures are all part of the overall experience.


The six hectare with its 2,000 rose bushes, 20,000 perennials and 8,000 trees has been created to work with the natural elements of water, wind movement and perspectives. It feels sensitive and delicate, working with nature, not against it. There are no sharp edges, it flows and curves, just as the natural world does.


As you walk the sloping pathways through the varying landscapes, you’re aware of the sounds of flowing water. If if you look up you’ll see little bells in the trees that softly ring in the wind. And ribbons threaded through the branches so that you can see the wind gently moving the treetops.


As you walk through the Sacred Woods, people stop to touch the waves of boxwood, supposed to bring good luck. Walk alongside drystone walls, and trickling stream beneath a tunnel of hedges.

Look carefully at the sloping moss area, because it’s said that is where the elves and goblins sleep because it’s so very soft. And if you touch the ivy, it will make you tell the truth!


From the highest point in the garden you can look down over beautiful views of the ancient town which dates back to the 6th century. You can also look down on the roof of the ‘glasshouse’, where art exhibitions are staged. The roof is designed to look like water in the shape of a teardrop and on the grass are curved seats for people to sit.


As you walk down the hill you see the mist of water fountains through tall poplar trees. It’s said that the trees inspired the fountains, and this water garden represents the four rivers in Paradise, forming a cross. So we walk into paradise and it is so beautiful and peaceful. Each little waterfall makes a different echo, so that the sounds become like secret whisperings. And delightfully, you’ll see how the sunlight through the water creates rainbows on the pool surfaces.


The garden is the creation of Kathryn Gustafson, an American Landscape Architect who also created the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, London, and it truly is a garden that inspires the imagination.


For more information go to: http://www.jardins-imaginaire.com