As our family was on a little holiday in the Gard region, we couldn’t miss a visit to the botanical garden “La Bambouseraie en Cévennes” near Anduze. As soon as we arrived, we were immersed in a peaceful world of giant, exotic trees and plants. A completely different scenery from the garrigues and palm trees we are used to in the South of France.
When entering the garden, you walk through a wholly covered bamboo lane. Near the end of the lane, just before the farmhouse, you will find some of the oldest sequoias in France. These two enormous oaks were planted in 1860 by the founder of La Bambouseraie himself: Eugène Mazel. A spice merchant and passionate botanist originally from the Cévennes, his dream was to create a garden never before seen in France. So he did. Mazel had the chance to buy a piece of land in his native village. And the valley of Générargues benefits from a tropical microclimate. The perfect place to plant his imported bamboo and other exotic plants. In 1856, Mazel opened his garden.
Solid like steel
La Bambouseraie now covers 34 hectares in total, of which 15 hectares are open to the public. We let the path guide us through the garden. Soon enough, we walked into a Laotian village. This is where you can learn about how humans use bamboo. Although bamboo is a grass – and not a tree – the hollow stem is solid like steel. And therefore the perfect material to build houses. Something the Laotians have understood for a long time. We could also see the start of a banana tree blossom. Absolutely beautiful!
Next stop was the labyrinth made of, you guessed it, bamboo. Time to play! Our brood spent quite some time in the maze made of bamboo hedges. Never knew you could grow hedges out of bamboo. But you can! La Bambouseraie uses a Japanese bamboo variety. One advantage of using bamboo is that your hedge grows rapidly and the foliage is dense and won’t fall off in autumn.
The best was saved for last. In 2000, the year of the Chinese dragon, the Dragon Valley was created, using strict Japanese garden and Feng shui rules. This was my favourite part of the garden. I have to say the weather was gorgeous, which made it even more beautiful. The centre of the Dragon Valley is the river Gardon, shaped into a mythical dragon. Along the banks of the river, you will find Japanese maple trees and dwarf bamboo. The autumn colours added up to a magical view. A true moment of zen!
Through the bamboo forest, with heights between 15 and 25 meters, and the Chinese palm path, we walked back to the exit. Although I hardly have green fingers, I still enjoyed visiting La Bambouseraie. In the end, we made a short stop at the “Bamboutique”. Where I happened to find the perfect bamboo baskets in black and white! An excellent memory for back home.