In the beginning of the 1990s, Pierre Delmon, the mayor of Terrasson-Lavilledieu, decided to get involved in tourism development. This garden lover proposed to create a contemporary garden by organising an international competition on the theme of "The World's Gardens". The American landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson and the architect Ian Ritchie were the winners of this contest.
It was their idea to create a circuit of 13 landscapes over more than 6 hectares that would tell the story of man and his gardens through the centuries. These make reference to the invariable elements of humanity's gardens: water, air, earth and plants. Here, contemporary and traditional materials blend: concrete, steel, glass and St Yrieix stone. The water gardens, the rose garden, the golden thread and the sacred woods are some of the most popular attractions.
Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1996. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the gardens' maturity on 15 June 2009, the garden received a rose created by the rose breeder Fabien Ducher, "Clotilde Courau", which was inaugurated in the presence of the princess.
The gardens were designed in such a way as to cultivate a close relationship with the historic district of the town, where the public park team maintains classical gardens of historic inspiration. The beauty of these areas has earned it two flowers in the regional "Villages in Bloom" ranking. Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire also holds two very important labels: "Remarkable Gardens" and "20th Century Heritage" (bringing to the fore contemporary gardens and heritage).
Les Jardins de l'Imaginaire welcomes some 40,000 visitors from April to October each year.