The Jardin des Plantes in Rouen (Seine-Maritime) is rich of more than 7 000 species, some of which are unique in the world. Small guided tour with the director of the site.
Of course, it is a place of essential walk for Rouen, but not only. The Jardin des Plantes , a natural harbor on the left bank, is also, and this is its initial mission, a place of scientific conservation . Since the XIX th century, 7,000 species are kept there, classified and studied. Some of them are unique in the world.
A museum of the living
“The Jardin des Plantes works like a museum,” says Julien Goossens, director of the garden. Our works are natural, but the logic is the same: we have our collections, publications, exhibitions, etc. ”
This museum of the living was created in 1830. “Previously, there existed on the site of the Champ de Mars a garden of the academy of sciences, embryo of botanical garden, explains Bénédicte Percheron, author of the natural sciences in Rouen in XIX th century. Museography, popularization and scientific networks. In 1830, lacking space, he was transferred left bank, in the park of Trianon, then a private park. It was far from the city, but had great potential, with the presence of greenhouses already. Initially it was not open to the public. ”
Today, in the 85,000 square meters of park, we find the “biscutelle Neustrie”. While this small plant does not look, but it is an endemic species, it is found only in Normandy.
Also at Norman chapter, the orchard is full of old varieties – between the XVI th and XIX th century – apples and pears in the region, “President Barabé”, “Pierre Corneille”, “Perier” … And he there is still the rose garden, which contains only Norman horticultural creations.
Wild orchids, garden treasures
Other species come from far away. They are still living testimony of naturalists discovered the XIX th century, which brought these living treasures of Asia or Latin America.
Among these exotic plants, there is the “treasure” of the Garden of Plants, as its director calls it: the 320 wild orchids, brought back from Borneo and Sumatra (Indonesia) , by a naturalist from the North.
“They were taken to the XIX th century, in primary forests that no longer exist today. These orchids are now found only in botanical gardens. “
Emerging from territories with a climate very different from Norman times, these orchids live in tropical greenhouses that reproduce their environment of origin, hot and humid, permanently.
Note that these greenhouses, like the central greenhouse, have been under renovation for 18 months. The new facilities will be ready for the Seeds of Garden Festival , May 18-19, 2019, the Green Hands event organised each spring in the Jardin des Plantes.
Palm trees also have to live with a sky (sometimes) cool and wet. Also, during the winter, they are stored in the orangery, with citrus fruits (including no less than 60 varieties of lemons). During the summer, the vacant orangery is the place of exhibitions and festivals.
The redwoods suffer
On the other hand, among the remarkable trees, the famous redwoods are in great suffering: “Due to the climatic disturbance, they are drying up, and are dying”, notes Julien Goossens.
A word about wildlife, which is not far behind, including a significant presence of birds. “They need total darkness at night and in the city, it’s the only place they can find it. The Jardin des Plantes is a dormitory for forty species of birds. ”
“In fact here it is a haven of biodiversity extremely rich”, summarizes Julien Goossens.