There are magic moments on every tour and on the recent trip to France one of those moments came at Les Jardins de Sardy, a romantic garden east of Bordeaux. With an invitation to admire its scented trees and shrubs, the garden’s owner drew us into a gravel courtyard and then, with a spicy fragrance lingering on the air, led us to a shady overlook to tell the story of his Irish mother’s 1950s restoration, including efforts to grow English flowers before she capitulated to the allure and drought-tolerance of Mediterranean plants.
Before us in blinding sunlight, the mirror-like surface of an Italian pool reflected the 18th century stone house with its pale shutters and upright cypress trees. Eager to get closer, the group surged forward as our host guided us to the water’s edge and noted its resemblance to the garden at Alhambra, minus one important detail. Suddenly, inexplicitly, the pool sprang to life with jets of water reaching for the sky and falling back in graceful arcs, breaking the reflections of house and garden into thousands of brilliant diamonds.