A friend and I recently took ourselves off to a garden I have wanted to visit for along time - Le Jardin des Plantes in Caen also now know as the Jardin Botanique de Caen ... and what a delight of a plant day we were in for. We were a touch worried that we would wilt in the heat that was forecast but we need not have worried as there are so many shady paths we could wander along as well as umpteen benches for us to rest on and admire the plants.
A botanical garden is described as:
"une institution qui rassemble des collections documentées de végétaux vivants à des fins de recherche scientifique, de conservation et d'éducation".
"an institution which gathers collections of documented living plants for the purposes scientific research, conservation and education"
This botanical garden fits this brief perfectly. It has been developed in the 5ha of an old quarry and today is home to over 8,000 plant species, some of which are exceedingly rare. Don't worry if your plant ID skills are not up to scratch as many of the plants are clearly labelled with larger panels for some of the rarer specimens ... although these small information panels are only in French. It is linked to Caen University for scientific work and runs various activities (Current ones include a bat evening and scarecrow making) to get people interested in the world of plants and how important they are.
Within the 5ha there are many different types of garden as well as art features and children's play areas. These garden include:
- A Normandy garden of local plants
- Themed gardens such as pants used in medicine, cooking etc
- A parkland area complete with a Giant Sequoia that has a lightening conductor as it is so tall
- A greenhouse of exotic plants
- An orangerie
- Les Rocailles - plants of peat bogs and mountains
Without further words then I give you just some of the many photos I took. They are in no particular order but which I hope give you a feel of this wonderful garden.
(clicking on the images will make them bigger)
|Late summer herbaceous border|
|Echinacea in the medicinal garden|
|Another herbaceous border|
|Rainbow art installation|
|A centre for botanic study|
|Information panel for the very rare Wollemi Pine|
|Hydrangeas and summer annuals|
|Can you tell I like hydrangeas?!|
|Help needed here - does anyone know what this plant is?|
Le Jardin des Plantes is open every day except Christmas Day and New Year's Day, opening at 8am week days and 10am weekends and bank holidays. Closing times vary with the seasons and more details can be found on their website. It is free to enter, dogs are welcome on leads and there are plenty of places to picnic but be aware there are no refreshments available. The toilets were clean and also free. There is no car park although there are spaces near the main entrance reserved for these with disabilities and we found ample free parking on local side roads (do remember, though, that in France you must park in the same direction as the traffic flow or risk a 17€ fine).