Dordogne gem is always box fresh

Six full-time gardeners tend the trees and lawns at Eyrignac in order to maintain its neat and tidy look

Jane Hanks visits a Salignac-Eyvigues garden with 50,000 boxes trimmed and shaped to aesthetic perfection

Eyrignac et ses Jardins, at Salignac-Eyvigues, Dordogne, was one of the first gardens to open to the public, in 1987, at a time when there were very few to visit in France. It has now been open for 31 years and welcomes 81,000 visitors a year to its 10 hectares of garden which is best known for its topiary and Jardin à la Française.

There are 50,000 box, yew and hornbeams as well as cypresses and trained ivy, sculpted and tended to create a garden, dominated by shades of green, where everything down to the last detail, has been designed to create a carefully crafted aesthetic impact.

This is no surprise as the garden was designed by a man who knew very little about gardening, but a great deal about style. Gilles Sermadiras, who drew up the plans for the garden, founded the lifestyle magazine Maison et Jardin and was a pioneer of garden furniture.

He inherited Eyrignac, which had belonged to his family for 500 years. Its first garden in the 18th century was in the French formal style but this ...

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