Les Jardins du Manoir d’Eyrignac – 8 July 2014

by quincyhammond

Refining personal aesthetic often depends upon defining “dislikes” as much as “likes,” and even more importantly darkening the sometimes-thin line between the two. The gardens of Manoir D’Eryngiac check all my boxes–beautifully organized, strictly formal, primarily green, impressively sculptural and incredibly maintained. But I do not like it. And I feel terrible about it, as the intensity of my distaste is unqualified by real criticism and unwarranted by the quality of design or level of care. The best (or worst) I can say is that it is just too much. Too much pruning, too much detail, too much garden. My eyes and brain could not rest. One themed room after another. Allee over allee. Pattern upon pattern. Visual overload resulting in mental malfunction.

Entrance to the garden marked by Italian-inspired paving, an arch and columns of yew. (Are all three elements really necessary to understand the concept of "Enter Here?")

Entrance to the garden marked by Italian-inspired paving, a hornbeam arch and columns of yew. (Are all three elements really necessary to understand the concept of “Enter Here?”)

The Hornbeam Allee, formed by buttress-shaped hornbeams wrapping around columns of yew. They are pruned by hand using forms and plumb lines 4-5 times per year. (Impressive, for sure, but is the extra detail--and effort--required to carry the eye such a distance?)

The Hornbeam Allee, formed by buttress-shaped hornbeams wrapping around columns of yew. They are pruned by hand using forms and plumb lines 4-5 times per year. (Impressive, for sure, but is the extra detail–and effort–required to carry the eye for a distance?)

A detail view of the swoop of the hornbeams

A detail view of the swoop of the hornbeams

At the opposite end of the axis along the Hornbeam Allee is the Pagoda Garden, one of the few areas I almost-liked for its simplicity of materials.

At the opposite end of the axis along the Hornbeam Allee is the Pagoda Garden. (One of the few areas I almost-liked for its simplicity of materials–boxwood hedge, sand path, trees overhead.)

Bright red benches sit at the diagonal cross-arms of the Pagoda Garden. (A nicely selected and located detail, linking the design of the bench to that of the garden.)

Bright red benches sit at the diagonal cross-arms of the Pagoda Garden. (A nicely selected and located detail, linking the design of the bench to that of the garden.)

The Green Chamber of hornbeams with an arch that reflects the Entry arch opposite, intricate paving that reiterates the curve of the arches and topiary in pots flanking the path (because the path between the two arches is not enough to signify "this is the way to walk?")

The Green Chamber of hornbeams with an arch that reflects the Entry arch opposite, intricate paving that reiterates the curve of the arches and topiary in pots flanking the path. (Simply a path between the two arches is not enough to signify “this is the way to walk?”)

A window carved within the Green Chamber allows a view to the surrounding countryside.

A window carved within the Green Chamber allows a view to the surrounding countryside. (Whereas the hornbeam windows at Chateau de Losse were one detail that heightened the overall sense of intrigue, the impact here is less–the view outside not so interesting, and so many other elements within.)

More Italian-inspired paving within the Green Chamber with a petunia-filled planter in the center. (There is almost never a good reason to add petunias.)

More Italian-inspired paving within the Green Chamber with a petunia-filled planter in the center. (There is almost never a good reason to add petunias.)

The Vase Allee with yew hedges, cypress trees and yew topiaries in pots (again, are all three elements really necessary?)

The Vase Allee with yew hedges, cypress trees and yew topiaries in pots. (Again, are all three elements really necessary?)

The Manor House, with a raked-sand yard. (Ah, finally, only one color to absorb.)

The Manor House, with a raked-sand yard. (Ah, finally, only one color to absorb.)

Across from the Manor House is a fountain. And stairs. And topiary. And Dovecote. And Chapel. (So much for the eye resting.)

Across from the Manor House is a fountain. And stairs. And topiary. And Dovecote. And Chapel. (So much for the eye resting.)

The second floor of the Manor House looks onto the Jardin Francaise. (The typical boxwood pattern has been embellished with additional topiary, loops and scrolls, making it the Frenchest of the French gardens, I suppose.)

The second floor of the Manor House looks onto the Jardin Francaise. (The typical boxwood pattern has been embellished with additional topiary, loops and scrolls, making it the Frenchest of the French gardens, I suppose.)

The Miroir--reflecting pool--outside the Manor House courtyard. (I count nine types of visual elements here. And various multiples of the nine types. I am not that good at math, but this is too much for one garden.)

The Miroir–reflecting pool–outside the Manor House courtyard. (I count nine types of visual elements here. And various multiples of the nine types. I am not that good at math, but this is too much for one garden.)

The Flower Garden is hidden from view. (Thank God.)

The Flower Garden is hidden from view. (Thank God.)

The Potager has two types of paths and dozens of different types of vegetables. (Hope somebody is hungry.)

The Potager has two types of paths and dozens of different types of vegetables. (Hope somebody is hungry.)

An allee of hanging spruces separates the Potager and the Flower Garden. (Because hedges would be too simple?)

An allee of hanging spruces separates the Potager and the Flower Garden. (Because hedges would be too simple?)

The Topiary Farm (Please, no more topiary.)

The Topiary Farm (Please, no more topiary.)

The White Garden consists of elaborate boxwood hedges; white roses, petunias and gaurs; five fountains; ivy swags; and an Asian-style pergola. (Speechless.)

The White Garden consists of elaborate boxwood hedges; white roses, petunias and gauras; five fountains; climbing rose swags; and two Asian-style pergolas. (Speechless.)

The final element of the tour is the Pavilion of Rest. (Apparently, I am not the only one who was tired.)

The final element of the tour is the Pavilion of Rest. (Apparently, I am not the only one who was tired after visiting this garden.)

 

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