The gardens of Kerdalo, Brittany

Kerdalo Gardens, Trédarzec, Côtes D’Armor region of Brittany
Kerdalo Gardens, Trédarzec, Côtes D’Armor region of Brittany

 

It is surprising to think that the enchanting gardens of Kerdalo began life as recently as the 1960s. Russian Prince Peter Wolkonsky, whose family fled to France just before the 1917 revolution, had long sought a suitable site on which to create his dream garden. He was already in his sixties when he discovered the site, which he acquired in 1965. He selected it primarily for its mild climate, acidic soil and natural valley sweeping all the way down to the River Jaudy. Finding himself in what was then a dilapidated old farmhouse on 44 acres of land, he lost no time getting to work.

Today, his impressive legacy is enthusiastically continued by his daughter Isabelle, a talented gardener in her own right who trained at Wisley, together with her British husband Timothy Vaughan, a renowned landscape architect.

The gardens of Kerdalo are located just outside the pretty Breton town of Trédarzec in the Côtes D’Armor region. The mild climate is quite similar to that of Southern Britain.

A Stroll through Kerdalo Gardens
Accessed through a stone archway covered in pink camellia flowers, the main house faces onto a rectangular lawn, decorated simply with a sun dial at its centre. An eye-catching cobbled path in alternating geometric designs encompasses the lawn. A border sits between the path and the house leaving ample space for the beautiful array of climbers, shrubs and perennials which soften the stone and add colour, depth and elegance.

A stone archway entices the visitor through to the main house, lawns and formal gardens
A stone archway entices the visitor through to the main house, lawns and formal gardens
The lawn at Kerdalo Gardens
The lawn at Kerdalo Gardens overlooks the formal garden.
Detail from the very attractive cobbled pathway
Detail from the very attractive cobbled pathway around the lawn.
The beautiful formal garden at Kerdalo as viewed from the lawn
The beautiful formal garden at Kerdalo as viewed from the lawn

 

The lawn overlooks the beautiful, tranquil formal garden known as the Jardin des Quatre Carrés (garden of the four squares). This is presumably because of the 4 geometrically placed topiary squares – each with two layers of hedging and topped with a topiary dome. The pathways to the side are checkered squares made up alternatively of grass and cobbles. Particularly striking are the many shades and textures of the evergreen foliage.

topiary squares in the formal garden
Close up of the one of the topiary squares in the formal garden
A border between the path and the house leaves ample space for climbers, shrubs and perennials
A border between the path and the house leaves ample space for climbers, shrubs and perennials

 

Behind the main house to the right is the upper valley of Kerdalo. An enticing path and steps lead to a canal that helps to water the formal gardens and is home to a wooden pagoda. Flowering cherry and magnolia trees among others create a vibrant backdrop.

Where do the steps lead? The path to the canal is irresistible!
Where do the steps lead? The path to the canal is irresistible!
The canal room complete with pagoda and decorative trees
The canal room complete with pagoda and decorative trees

 

The path behind the house to the left leads to the terraces, by far the hottest part of the garden. Here we find a beautiful showcase of multi-coloured foliage and hardy tropicals.

The terraces at Kerdalo have a tropical feel
The terraces at Kerdalo have a tropical feel
Multi-coloured foliage creates an eye-catching show
Multi-coloured foliage creates an eye-catching show on the sun drenched terraces

 

Moving away from the house, a meandering pathway leads down through the valley past the lake and under a canopy of hydrangeas, camellias, rhododendrons and giant Pieris plants (of which Pieris Forest Flame is the dominant variety). There are also many Japanese Acers along the way and around the lake, creating a tranquility worthy of a Japanese garden.

Giant Pieris Forest Flame
Giant Pieris Forest Flame flank the pathway to the lake
The lake at Kerdalo Gardens
The lake at Kerdalo Gardens
Gunnera Manicata enjoy the moist ground from the natural springs
Gunnera Manicata enjoy the moist ground from the natural springs
Japenese inspired garden at Kerdalo
We like to think of this as a little Japanese garden in the centre of Kerdalo

 

And on to the lower valley with its striking Gunnera Manicata – they just love the moist ground from the natural springs and happily populate the path to the grotto with its striking water feature. At the end of the path, the mouth of the river is reached with its spectacular views of Trédarzec town.

View of Trédarzec town from the bottom of the valley at Kerdalo Gardens
View of Trédarzec town from the bottom of the valley at Kerdalo Gardens

 

More on Kerdalo on the official website