Friday, July 4, 2008

Enchanting vegetation

The day after my arrival in Brittany, Christine took me to a magnificent 42-acre botanic garden near Tréguier named Kerdalo, created during the final decades of the 20th century by a Russian nobleman, Peter Wolkonsy [1907-1997].

Peter became a specialist in dendrology, the science of trees, and his domain can be considered, first and foremost, as a celebration of great trees of many kinds.

A tiny stream enters the upper edge of the property, and its waters have been channeled into a series of pools of differing shapes and sizes.

The largest pool is in fact a small lake surrounded by giant tropical plants, masses of hydrangeas, reeds and rushes.

In the middle of the domain, a square array of splendid flower beds corresponds to what might be described as a "clergyman's garden".

Often, the pools are bordered by fountains and fanciful constructions.

On one edge of this tiny square pool covered in greenery, there's an Italian grotto whose walls are adorned by frescoes.

In certain places, there's an air of giantism, with roses climbing into the branches of huge trees.

When Peter Wolkonsy discovered the property, around 1965, the splendid residence was little more than an old farm house.

The far end of the domain slopes down into a magnificent estuary, with Tréguier across the waters.

Since the death of Peter, the domain has been evolving under the guidance of his daughter Isabelle and her English husband Timothy Vaughan, who's an expert horticulturist.

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