When Jonathan Wright of Chanticleer was visiting the beautiful Great Dixter House & Garden in England, he received an insider tip that Kerdalo—in the Brittany region of France—is a must-see destination. Jonathan made a mental note and, months later, made it a point to visit the renowned garden when he and PHS president Drew Becher journeyed to France.
Kerdalo was the passion project of Prince Peter Wolkonsky, who started the garden in 1965 and passed away in 1997. Now his daughter, Princess Isabelle, ensures that the legacy continues. As Drew described it, the garden tour begins at a spring, and guests then follow the water’s path into distinct “outdoor rooms” that ultimately lead to a tidal bay. Water is a key component of Kerdalo, as the 30-acre property also features a lake, ponds, and grottos.
Drew remarked that the garden offers both rustic, authentic landscapes as well as more formal gardens closer to the onsite estate house. “We only had about two hours to spend there, but I could have stayed for 20,” Drew said.
As enjoyable as the outing was, it only got better when Drew and Jonathan were chatting in the Kerdalo gift shop and were approached by an elegantly dressed woman who took note of their American accents. “It was Princess Isabelle; I couldn’t believe it,” Drew said. “When I introduced myself and my role with PHS, it was gratifying to hear that she was familiar with the Flower Show.”
Displaying the generosity that’s typical of gardeners, the princess insisted that Drew, Jonathan, and their travelling companions follow her a few miles down the road to her private home gardens. Not wanting to pass up a serendipitous moment, the group jumped at the chance.
“These gardens are a showroom of Isabelle’s tastes and talents. She and her husband, Timothy Vaughan, are disciplined, dedicated horticulturists,” Drew said.
In awe of all he saw, Drew gently suggested bringing a group of PHS members to the garden—an idea the princess received with enthusiasm. She even offered to host a lunch, which is a rare opportunity. Marking up Drew’s guide map with a big blue pen, the princess circled other gardens in the area that she considers exceptional. Her personal favorites include Jardin Georges Delaselle, Domaine de Trevarez, and Jardins du Chateau de la Ballue.
Look for details to develop about a PHS trip to the gardens of Brittany, likely in 2014.