Gardens of Normandy – part 1

Normandy is a region in France known to many from D-Day, the white cliffs of Étretat and apple cider or Calvados, but it also offers magnificent parks and gardens to discover. On our recent photo tour we focused on a handful of gardens and parks in Lower Normandy.

Just before crossing the river Seine on the Normandy bridge to Lower Normandy we visited the Hanging Gardens (Les Jardins Suspendus) in Le Havre. This new garden is located in the 19th century Fort of Sainte-Adresse. The buildings, turned into “hanging gardens” are dedicated to nature and the environment. The place also shelters an arboretum and the municipal greenhouses. The large greenhouses in the central courtyard of the fortress are displaying rare and unusual plants from across the globe. At the experimental garden various compositions of flowers beds are being tried out. New varieties are being planted together throughout the seasons. The lessons learned from these experiments are going to be used for gardens and flower beds all over the city.

Coming from Le Havre one enters the Pays d’Auge area in the Calvados department with its typical Normandy landscape. Named after the area the Gardens of the Pays d’Auge (Jardins du Pays d’Auge) in Cambremer offer a number of different theme gardens around a 17th century farm on a 7 acre site. The garden was designed by landscape architect Chantal Lejard-Gasson as an ‘evolutionary’ garden in 1994. The visitor can follow a marked path to discover the 28 theme gardens and attractions of the garden.

The next stop took us to the Botanical Garden at the Saint Gabriel’s Priory (Jardins du prieure Saint-Gabriel) in Saint-Gabriel-Brecy west of Caen. Founded in 1058 by the Fécamp Benedictine monks, it now houses a horticulture and landscape gardening school with a public garden. The garden has a beautiful courtyard, some theme gardens (which could be better maintained) and an orchard with apple and pear trees.

At the north of the Cotentin Peninsula close to Cherbourg-Octeville we visited the Park Of Nacqueville (Parc du Chateau de Nacqueville), created in the 1830s as English landscape garden surrounding the 16th century Nacqueville castle. Highlights of this garden include giant gunneras, a plant native to southeastern Brazil and two large sequoias, which are 170 years old. Because of its soft maritime climate and its peaty acid soil the garden is well suited for a large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas.

continue reading: Gardens of Normandy – part 2

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