On Monday I took myself off to Bayeux for the day. "Ah, to see the Tapestry" you may be thinking. Actually no, not this time. This time I wanted to see and photograph some of the less well known but equally interesting parts of this beautiful Normandy town ...and that included a trip to the Public Gardens. Click on Bayeux to read the blog I wrote about the other sites I saw.
The 2.6ha gardens are on the outskirts of the town and were opened in 1864 after the land was donated to the town for the purpose of creating a garden to teach horticulture. That initial remit changed slightly as it was realised that actually what the town needed more was an area for leisure. Today it serves both purposes. There are open spaces, benches and play areas for leisure and over 400 trees and many more plants for horticultural study. A self-guided botanical tour takes you around the garden and the numerous display panels in both English and French give lots of information about the plants and local area.
Despite the lateness in the year there were still plenty of flowers to be seen in the herbaceous borders. Some of these borders also contained interesting sculptures for added interest. My eye was also drawn to the canna in the right of the first picture and the banana plants in the second which serve nicely to indicate the generally mild climate of Bayeux as it is close to the sea. We would struggle to grow these in Lenault as we are further inland and at a higher altitude.
I particularly liked the way the gardeners had included some vegetables in their planting schemes and I was sorely tempted to pinch a bit of the purple curly kale and ruby chard for dinner (I did resist!)
There was also a small glasshouse housing a collection or arid succulents and cacti. I have to say these do not greatly interest me but I know some people love them so I have included them if this is you.
However, the star of the garden for me was a tree. You could quite easily miss this tree as at first glance it really does not appear to be anything special. In fact it looked rather dowdy with it's pendulous branches not displaying much autumn colour and it's rather lumpy shape. Don't be fooled, though, this tree really is VERY special.
It is a weeping beech tree. Walk along the path and step through the drooping branches ...
... and this is what you will discover ...
It was like stepping into a magnificent cavern.
It was like someone had turned the tree upside down and the branches were in fact it's roots.
It was so completely different to the outside view of the tree.
It was absolutely calm under its giant branches; a place to go to get away from the world for a while.
Tom, when he saw this photo, said it reminded him of Time.
For me it is possibly the best tree I have ever seen. In 2000 it was awarded the "arbre remarquable de France". All I can say is that if you are ever in Bayeux, by all means see the Tapestry but do also try and make time to visit the Public Gardens and see this truly amazing weeping Beech tree for yourself. I do not think you will be disappointed.
- The Bayeux Public Gardens are open every day (9am to 8pm April to September and 9am to 5pm October to March) although they will be closed in times of heavy rain, when it is snowing or when the ground is thawing after a frost.
- Dogs and bicycles are not allowed.
- They are free to enter and there is roadside parking at both entrances
- Address: 55 Route de Port en Bessin, 14400 BAYEUX (with a second entrance on Rue du Chemin Vert)
- Basic toilets on site but no refreshments.
- More details on the Normandy website, here.