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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More on Kerdalo on the official website…