Last week I visited a wonderful gardener who had invited me to view her collection of topiary. She had been cultivating and nurturing it for 16 years. Through the gate and down a rustic path, there, nonchalantly scattered about in her field, amongst giant gums and grazed by sheep (who won’t touch buxus as it’s toxic to stock), were box topiaries in artful groupings like little families or gatherings of friends. They were absolutely charming in this unexpected and natural setting. Mary had clipped them in various shapes over the years as her children grew up but now felt it was time to let them go to another home. “You can’t sell them”, I protested. “They’re like family members! You will miss them if they go.” But no, the artist now in her seventies was tired of the annual pruning and maintenance and wanted to move onto other things. So I am planning to adopt them all, one by one, large and small, and bring them to The Potting Shed for all to enjoy – and to take away to new homes to be admired and loved. The visit emphasised how such a simple process of planting a shrub or tree and adding creativity, can produce such an outstanding result. I’ve featured the Marqueyssac gardens (above and below) in an earlier post, but think it’s worth revisiting appropos this story. Years ago we travelled through the Dordogne region in France but were in those days, unaware of the marvellous gardens of Marqueyssac. What a shame to have been so close but to have missed seeing this spectacle. Next trip we will certainly be adding it to our list.
Above and below: The remarkable gardens surrounding the Château de Marqueyssac in Vézac,France. Classified as a remarkable garden by the French Ministry of Culture, it was built in the 17th century by Bertrand Vernet, counsellor to the king. The original garden was created by a pupil of André Le Nôtre, and featured gardens, terraces, and a kitchen garden surrounding the chateau. A grand promenade one hundred metres long was added at the end of the 18th century. Beginning in 1866, the new owner, Julien de Cerval, who was inspired by Italian gardens, built rustic structures, redesigned the parterres, laid out five kilometres of walks, and planted pines and cypress trees.